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June 10, 2004

Also, There Were Acoustic '80s Tunes

by Ron Hogan

When Amanda Stern steps up to the microphone at the Happy Ending reading series, brace yourself for candor. The first time I attended the series, which she curates in a Chinatown bar which used to be a "health club" (which I'm thinking must be a euphemism for "massage parlor"), she made the audience guess what three types of infections she had. At the end of last night's show, she informed us all that she'd spent the last hour or so having a panic attack induced by a misdosage of Wellbutrin ("and it hasn't even helped me quit smoking," she quipped). This sudden revelation came as her commitment to the "risk" she demands from each of the readers in the amazing lineups that she assembles on a weekly basis--in an evening which saw Ben Greenman rattle off all his PIN numbers (yes, I know "PIN number" is a redundancy), Lisa Glatt read a poem called "If You Have Sex with a Stranger with One Ball," and Marc Nesbitt perform a dialogue from Barton Fink using Senor Wences puppets (which is to say, his fists).

Glatt, you may recall, I had recently met in Chicago, where she was signing copies of A Girl Becomes a Comma Like That in her publisher's booth. So I hung out with her and her husband, poet David Hernandez, at one end of the bar, chatting about how the SoCal couple were enjoying their weeklong stay in Manhattan. At one point, he thought he'd spotted Maud Newton, who had recently posted at great length about Glatt's work. (No such luck, though I assured them I could produce her the next time they were in town!) This is definitely Glatt's week;she mostly came out ahead in Sunday's NYTBR, though reviewer Lisa Zeidner wedged in some disapproval of the novel-in-stories format the book employs.

Glatt was the centerpiece of the evening's literary segment. Before her, Ben Greenman read some short humor pieces about W's search for a running mate during the summer of 2000 and the future trajectory of Ken Burns' oeuvre. After, Nesbitt--whose short story collection Gigantic, in addition to indirectly inspiring the launch of The Believer. totally rocked (and here's proof)--read from an unfinished short story that began with the narrator getting busted for smoking pot at the corner of Bleecker and Crosby and thrown into the back of a police van. Great stuff: can't wait to see a finished version in some magazine soon!

(Before and after the stories, as the headline indicates, there was the traditional covering of '80s tunes...this week supplied by regular musical contributor Whitney Pastorak, who ran the gamut from the Cure's "Just Like Heaven" to Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive.")


Marc Nesbitt perform a dialogue from Barton Fink using Senor Wences puppets (which is to say, his fists)

That sounds awesome!

Marc's book Gigantic was an entertaining collection of stories to read.

Any specific dialogue you can recall Ron?


Posted by: Dan Wickett at June 10, 2004 04:26 PM

It was the scene where Barton's trying to get advice from the studio people on how to write the screenplay. "It's a wrestling picture with Wallace Beery. Whadya need, a road map?"

Posted by: editor at June 10, 2004 04:31 PM

That needs to be filmed and put on the net asap!


Posted by: Dan Wickett at June 10, 2004 04:51 PM

I wish I'd been there. I make it to Happy Ending on many Wednesdays, but couldn't get to this one.

Posted by: alizinha at June 11, 2004 01:31 PM
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