introducing readers to writers since 1995

November 08, 2004

An Apter Reading KGB May Never Have Had

by Ron Hogan

I first became a fan of Jerome Charyn a decade ago when I came across paperback copies of the Isaac Sidel novels, hooked into their dream-like depiction of the blurred lines between cop and criminal in New York City. So when I heard he would be reading at KGB last night, I grabbed the copy of The Isaac Quartet I'd picked up last month in Los Angeles and jumped on the subway. He was kind enough to sign it for me while everyone was still ordering their drinks and finding their seats, before he read from his latest novel, "a romance of Stalinist Russia" called The Green Lantern, giving us a passage in his brilliantly hallucinatory style during which the protagonist finagles his way into a one-way ticket to the gulag to reunite with the actress he loves.

The second author, August Kleinzahler, alternated passages from his new collection of memoir-essays, Cutty, One Rock, with some of his poetry. This was phenomenal stuff, and the audience loved it--if you want to hear for yourself, you might try 192 Books on Thursday night (11/11).

Between the two readings, I happened to spot a woman holding a copy of The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll in one hand and a pen in the other, and so I asked her if she was Jean Nathan. She was! Her book has been on my radar ever since that NYT profile last month, and in addition to the rave reviews and profile attention, it turns out she did Leonard Lopate's show last week. Well, with any luck she'll be answering five questions from me next week, just you wait...

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