As we put last year’s horror show in the rearview mirror and collectively look forward to a brighter, brighter future in 2021, good news is on the horizon. I’m not just talking about the vaccines, or the Restoration starting at the end of January, but something that may seem less important but has the potential to affect your mind just as deeply.
I am referring to the launch of a new innovative publication, Alexander, devoted to non-fiction, accessible through an app, and can be read, listened to or even watched on many devices.
I say “listened to or watched” because among the innovations of the app, each story is available in audio performances from actors such as Helena Bonham Carter, Richard E. Grant, Bill Nighy and Daisy Edgar-Jones, among others; and each story has a short video teaser, usually about three minutes long. These awesome shorts come from directors like Charlotte Wales and Derek Zheng and stars like Emma Coryn (Princess Diana in The Crown). Plus, Alexander’s proprietary technology is such that you can seamlessly switch between print and audio, say from home to car, or from the office to the gym, and the app won’t lose. not your place.
Alexander is the brainchild of film producer Cameron Lamb whom I contacted in Paris where he was quarantined when Alexander launched. Lamb told me that Alexander, whose name refers to the Great Library of the Ancient World in Alexandria, was born out of his passion for history.
“I really love the story,” Lamb said, adding that it was Alexander’s hope to elevate non-fiction stories and commission them from great writers around the world. As a result, he has established editorial scouts in the United States, Europe, Africa and Asia. He also admitted that being dyslexic, he always dreamed of being able to switch from print to audio and vice versa as possible in the app.
Among the stories now appearing on Alexander are JM Ledgard’s Duogong with an audio performance by David Tennant and a short film by Russ Murphy, about the search for the elusive dugong (a kind of manatee) in the waters of the Persian Gulf. Last Christmas by Odai Al Zoubi tells about the Christmas of a Syrian exile in Denmark and Sweden, read by Bill Nighy. There are also offerings from the past, such as revolutionary journalist Nellie Bly’s account of “Around the World in 72 Days” read by Daisy Edgar Jones, and “Memories of Emperor Napoleon on the Isle of St. Hélène “by Lucia Elizabeth Balcombe Abell loaned by Helena Bonham Carter. As Larry David might say, everything is “enough, good enough!”
A new story appears on Alexander every two weeks, commissioned by Lamb and accompanied by an audio version by a famous actor and a short film by a filmmaker. Alexander currently offers a two-week free trial followed by a subscription of $ 3.99 per month or $ 39.99 per year.
It is Lamb’s hope that the presentation of these stories, read so well by such well-known names, and the short films made by cutting-edge filmmakers, uplift the stories, making them come alive but also making them experience. read nice. According to Lamb, the response so far from actors, filmmakers and writers has been nothing short of enthusiastic.
Lamb calls Alexander his “thank you to the world, through the prism of beautiful, very poetic people”. This is perhaps the best way to describe the contributions to come in 2021, from international literary luminaries such as International Booker Prize winner Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, on identity, belonging and growing up in virtual worlds; Booker 2020 shortlisted Tsitsi Dangarembga on Zimbabwe, Black Lives Matter and David Livingstone’s body; Jeff VanderMeer, author of Nebula Laureate Annihilation, on Tallahassee rewilding and reweirding; Folio Prize / Carnegie Valeria Luiselli Medal on the Secret History of Government Violence Against Immigrant Women; Ceridwen Dovey, nominated for the NBF for 5 under 35, on the mad rush to low earth orbit; Colum McCann, selected by Booker in 2020 and winner of the National Book Award 2009, explains where we have come from, where we are going, from the point of view of Bethlehem, Palestine; and international bestselling and quantum physicist Carlo Rovelli on the hunt with the Hadza people of Tanzania.
In my conversation with Lamb, we touched on the fact that before the pandemic and the lockdown, life seemed so fast-paced that there was an emphasis on short content while, on the other hand, during the lockdown we all had less. traveled and had more time to enjoy going in depth. Lamb said that reading stories such as the ones that appear on Alexander “is really a nice way to go to many different parts. [of the world]. ”
Talking about Alexander with Lamb reminded me of EM Forster’s great saying in Howard’s End: “Only Connect! At the end of the day, says Lamb, “Understanding and communicating with each other is a really great way to move forward…” And a great way to start 2021!