Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Last Friday: Steve Almond and Julianna Baggott read from the new novel they co-wrote, Which Brings Me to You. I looooove Steve Almond, but had never heard him read before. He was just as hilarious and crass as I wanted him to be. His short stories (check out collections My Life in Heavy Metal and The Evil BB Chow) are observant, tender, funny and smutty. His nonfiction book Candyfreak is also pretty excellent. So, he and Julianna hardly knew each other but really liked each other's writing, and she had this idea for a book that consisted of two characters writing confessional letters back and forth to each other, so she asked him if he wanted to write the book with her. As he tells it, he was in a bad place with his own writing at the time, so he said no. She wrote the first chapter anyway and sent it to him, and then he said he'd do it because he loved what she'd written. In full self-deprecation mode, he writes about the process of collaborating on a book in the new issue of Poets & Writers.

Julianna read from that very first chapter, and she is tiny and manic and obnoxiously funny, and Steve, predictably, read 3 sex scenes from different parts of the book. He is so good at that shit. The reading was great, largely because they didn't treat their book like a sacred text. They interrupted themselves and made snide comments and talked to the audience, and it made hearing them read totally different than reading their work on the page, which is how I think readings should be. Afterward, a guy asked if they could record an audiobook that included all of their verbal footnotes.

Last night was T Cooper, Emily Barton and Paul LaFarge at Bluestockings. They made it "love to hate it/hate to love it" night, with each of them reading something from their own work (that they presumably loved) and then something else that they either loved to hate or hated to love. Emily read from Neuromancer by William Gibson, T read from Ethan Hawke's first novel, and Paul read some lines from an earl stage/experiment in writing what would ultimately be his seriously beautiful book The Facts of Winter. This was such a smart and entertaining way to organize a reading. It could even carry a whole reading series...

Speaking of books (um, when am I not?), here's the latest Bookslut column. It contains mention of poop. And here's my review of La Perdida. You really have to read this book. I'll even sell you a copy, when you come see Jessica Abel at the Grace Reading Series at Mo Pitkins next Tuesday, May 16th at 7pm. Deal?

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