Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Literary Salon

The Literary Salon went off better than I wildly dreamed, thanks mainly to the talent of the writers who performed and the engagement of the listeners and the cool weirdness of the 1818 Gallery. I don't mind confessing that with my schedule, I was ill-prepared to host, and I didn't have as many books made as were needed, and I forgot to burn Verdi and Kathleen Ferrier music, but I made up for that by carrying a 12-pack of cheap beer around the room for a while.

Blake Butler showed up on Wednesday night and it was awesome to meet him and talk to him about how things work. I am grateful that he came and sad he doesn't live more nearby. Dan Trask showed up on Thursday and we had lunch and he walked me to my dentist appointment. His installment of This PDF Chapbook (an excerpt from his novel), will be available next week.

Joe Young read for like 15 seconds. It was new work. It was remarkable, but it came and went before I remembered to "set [my] motherfucker to receive." (Is that from Mulholland Drive?) Ric Royer's voice was sensitive and his play converted to a reading in a good way. He also looked awesome with a scarf. Jen Michalski appreciated things for a couple minutes, things like her girlfriend and the literary scene in Baltimore, both great, and then she said, "Now that I've taken all my time, I'll read a chapter." There was time. Chris Toll read new work that included the line, "Is the bear in the woods Catholic?" which may be one of my favorite lines of poetry ever, or perhaps one of my favorite jokes ever. Sometimes I don't know when something is a poem and when it is a joke.

Michael Kimball gave a nice introduction of Andy Devine and then Andy read selections from his alphabetical short story. He chose remarkably good selections, and it may have been the best, most interesting and varied language performance I've had occasion to enjoy. Stephanie Barber read a selection from her lawn poem lecture/sales pitch and, though she forgot she not only had to host the Salon but read too, the strength of her writing you cannot miss. I thought maybe it was too tough for people to catch a random selection, but Seth Goodman, the philosopher who dropped in from Milwaukee, disagreed. It was comprehensible. Blake Butler read until his dog started to grow and it was an amazingly fitting abridgment, which stuns me even more about the quality of his story. Then Dan Trask read for about 20 minutes, which after seven readers I worried might be a killer, but it was not. He knows his story so well and read with such skill that attentions were left unstretched but appreciations were hefty.

During the intermission I suddenly was selling tons of books. I just happened to be standing next to the "merch table" and then suddenly I was moving product. I felt like William Randolph Hearst.

The books I owe to people who bought online whose payments have cleared are being posted tomorrow. I deeply regret the delays in shipping. Today I'm going to take a much needed break for a few hours, then I'm going to build more books. I need an intern.

David NeSmith (great songs at the link) spontaneously performed El Greed songs. Ryan Call came up from DC and he is awesome and he gave out copies of Phoebe. The people from Black Arrow, Luca DiPierro and Rachel Bradley, were there from Brooklyn.

I just had the time of my life. Yes, oh yes.


Adam R. said...

The line is not from MULHOLLAND DRIVE, it's from SPARTAN I think by Mamet. The thing I was thinking of is the part in M.D. where the guys meet at the ranch and one guy says like, "You're not paying attention. You're too busy being an assface to pay attention." I know it's not assface what is it.

Joseph Young said...

Best reading ever. More, please.

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