Monday, September 21, 2009

The 3rd Annual A.J. Liebling Invitational Short Fiction Conference was held in Massachusetts on Saturday, September 19th. The Liebling is a one-day literary conference devoted to the works and ideas of two 20th-century New World authors - the journalist and gourmand Abbott Joseph Liebling (1904-1963) and the Argentinean writer/philosopher Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986.) It attracts independent scholars from all parts of the country.

I have the privilege of being the Permanent Secretary of the Conference. While the entire corpus of Liebling's and Borges' work form the foundation of the Conference, we pay particular attention to two short passages, as below.

It is a laborious madness and an impoverishing one, the composing of vast books- setting out in five hundred pages an idea that can be perfectly related orally in five minutes. The better way to go about it is to pretend these books already exist, and offer a summary, a commentary on them.
Jorge Luis Borges

In the light of what Proust wrote with so mild a stimulus, it is the world's loss that he did not have a better appetite. On a dozen Gardiner's Island oysters, a bowl of clam chowder, a peck of steamers, some bay scallops, three sauteed soft-shelled crabs, a few ears of fresh-picked corn, a thin swordfish steak of generous area, a pair of lobsters, and a Long Island duck, he might have written a masterpiece.
A.J. Liebling

The Conference opens with a set of short welcoming remarks, awards (if any), and a Review of Correspondence. The meta-Proustian menu is then undertaken by all participants. Portions consumed are at the discretion of the participant. During interludes in the Gustatory segment, conference papers, as suggested by Borges and subject to the optional promptings of the Permanent Secretary and other members of the Committee, are read. Readings are sometimes followed by short question and answer sessions, but disputation or argument is not looked on favorably.

The Committee this year was assisted by Chef Tony Mauro, wine consultant Bob Gifford, and photographer N. Daly.

Official suppliers to the Conference include Captain Marden's Seafood of Wellesley, MA, Volante Farms of Needham, MA, A.J. Russo Fruit and Produce of Watertown, MA, Owens Poultry Farm of Needham, MA, Cambridge Wine and Spirits of Cambridge, MA, and The Crab Place of Crisfield, MD.

The Conference was supported this year by the generous financial contributions of several donors who wish to remain anonymous. At the direction of the Standing Committee, a portion of the contributions will be used to offset the cost of a limited-edition publication of the Proceedings of the Conference.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I went to a lovely wedding today. On the way I saw a billboard advertising spaces in "Artisan Daycare."

Like Gepetto's workshop?