Monday, June 30, 2014

David Giffels and Scott Raab Read at Brews + Prose Second Anniversary

(Courtesy David Giffels)
To David Giffels, the Rust Belt is a promised land of grit and rust — a place where he unequivocally belongs.

On Tuesday, a pilgrimage to Ohio City and a brush-up on Giffels’ book, The Hard Way on Purpose, might inspire similar feelings in readers. Giffels, a University of Akron professor and former Akron Beacon Journal columnist, will read alongside Scott Raab, author of The Whore of Akron, writer-at-large for Esquire and occasional Cleveland Magazine contributor. The event, a second-anniversary celebration of the Brews + Prose reading series, will doubtless fill up fast.

We asked the Akron-born Giffels about LeBron, "ruin porn" photography and what to expect at the packed-house reading.

Q: What are you looking forward to about reading with Scott Raab?

A: We have this LeBron James connection, because I’ve written about it and he’s written about it in very, very different ways. I really want this to be a showdown. I think that’d be great if he was game to do that. Tuesday, who knows what could be happening with LeBron, so it could be kind of an electric kind of moment.

Q: Is the LeBron James as metaphor thing as important as it’s made out to be?

A: I’ve been constantly asking that question. I think it is. He represents such an interesting intersection, him being born just as the Rust Belt notion was beginning and to have been here, then through a weird twist of fate, to have stayed and begun his career here. All of that was at a point where Akron was at the lowest point of its sense of identity. Not that he would be our identity, but that he would represent a new identity, or part of a new identity. I think that’s fascinating.

Q: In your book, you talk about good and bad ruin porn. Does that concept glorify ruins in the wrong way?

A: The issue with ruin porn, especially in the specific Rust Belt ruin porn that I’m writing about, [is that] a lot of those photographs are being made by people who are exploiting it. They’re being made by people who aren’t from that place, who aren’t documenting something with any sort of social or civic or cultural intent so much as just to take fascination in the image itself. I think that’s shortsighted.

Where those images are useful is where the context is opened up, when they’re taken by people that understand it -- whether they’re from the place or they’ve taken the time to really understand it.

Brews + Prose, Market Garden Brewery, 1947 W. 25th St., Cleveland, July 1, 7 p.m.

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