Wednesday, April 03, 2002

Among the Literati II
Alex and I took in a reading at the Brookline Booksmith last night, exposing me to two authors I hadn't even heard of, much less read. And based on last night's introduction, I need to read them. Oh, yes.

Backing up from last to first, we had Ben Marcus, whose Notable American Women I saw on display at Longellow's in Portland this past weekend. Ben teaches at Columbia in New York and is fiction editor for the biannual journal Fence. He's also had work published in McSweeney's, natch. So his fiction -- and reading dramatics in the introduction to his portion of the evening -- was edgy, emotive, and slightly evasive. Notable is a supposed biography of Ben, written from the perspective of his parents. It's reported by a friend to be quite complex, with some passages often requiring rereading. The "pamphlet" Ben read last night told the tale of a boy set out to sire by a matriarchal clan of Silentists. Ben's use of language -- and reappropriation of some terms -- was cleverly literate but also slightly mythic in the way that the Causey Way is mythic. Wonderful, off-center stuff!

Preceding him was Steve Almond, a professor at Emerson and author of My Life in Heavy Metal, which, if the piece he read is any indication, has more to do with sex than heavy metal. A contributor to online fiction sites such as Tatlin's Tower and Nerve, Steve's writing style is oddly poetic, given his lack of sentimentality toward but self-conscious consideration of the physicality of his subject matter. His reading demeanor was awesome, blending an able reading of his work with in-the-moment appreciation of and commentary on the situation he was in. His meta-reading commentary added a lot to the reading.

I should start going to readings again. And I should make the green-line hike to Booksmith more often. It's a nice little shop!

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