introducing readers to writers since 1995

April 08, 2004

From the Swink Launch Party

by Ron Hogan

Usually, geographical distance and lack of coolness keep me away from the bars on the Lower East Side, but I ventured out to Pianos Wednesday night for the launch party of Swink, a new literary magazine edited by Leelila Strogov (whose own short stories for other magazines include "Fatso" and "Paper Slippers"). The place was packed, and the crowd in back didn't seem to understand they were at a reading, but it went pretty well.

Amanda Stern kicked things off with her 42-sentence short, "The Shape of Florida," edging up on her tiptoes to reach the microphone. Then Elizabeth Tippens read from "A Message of Comfort in Your Time of Grief," the first chapter of a novel-in-progress about twin siblings former child stars turned writers with very different careers. This was great stuff, definitely a novel to look forward to in a couple of years once it's finished, sold, and published.

Then Chris Offutt showed up, which was a bit of a surprise; he'd been scheduled to read, but then everybody thought he was too sick to come over from Iowa. Apparently not, as he regaled us with equal parts reading from his short story "Maybe Delillo Was There" and breaking away to explain the story's autobiographical background. David Hollander and Nelly Reifler took the stage next, to take turns reading from their collaboration, "Whatever We Were Beforehand." Reifler had started this "damaged darling" but was never quite able to finish it to her satisfaction, so Strogov and the rest of the editorial staff persuaded her to let Hollander give it his best.

Daniel Alarcón read a portion of his short story "Florida" (apparently Florida's a subtheme of this premiere issue), after which Jonathan Ames showed us an ear candle which figured prominently in the opening of his story, "A Young Girl," an amusing if indulgent tale of a writer receiving an e-mail from an eager fan and quickly negotiating his way to a sexual encounter.

After that, we all pushed our way to or away from the bar, where I ran into Maud, who introduced me to the managing editor of Night Train. I also saw Caren Lissner, whose recently published Starting From Square Two kept me entertained on the subway in and out of the Outer Boroughs recently. She introduced me to Ned Vizzini, and his upcoming novel, Be More Chill, sounds a little kooky, but probably the good kind of kooky. And then Tippens and I tried to chat with each other, but the hosts had the Serge Gainsbourg cranked so high we had to shout at each other, so finally we just swapped emails and decided we'd try again some other time when we weren't bombarded by French pop music.


Thanks for mentioning me man. Hopefully the book is the right kind of kooky. How about acknowledging the fact that that party was packed with about 200 people? I'd never seen that many people in a writing event before...

Posted by: Ned at April 11, 2004 12:33 AM

Sounds fun.

Posted by: Kevynn Malone at July 7, 2004 03:30 AM

I was there also; I heard about it through a friend. A lot of great literature is coming out of L.A. and it's good to see someone start a journal which showcases some of this work.

Posted by: Dale McFadden at July 11, 2004 12:45 PM
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