introducing readers to writers since 1995

November 24, 2004

Catching Up With My Social Calendar

by Ron Hogan

Monday night I dropped by KGB with the Significant Other to hear one of her favorite poets, Donna Masini, read from her new collection, Turning to Fiction. "This is the first time I've ever done a reading after having something to drink first," she quipped, but she was glad that this time around she was able to stand at the lectern at the front of the bar and actually see her audience instead of a cloud of smoke ("though I miss smoking desperately," she added). The new poems are wonderful confessionals, rooted equally in emotional immediacy and striking detail. She was joined by Alan Michael Parker, whose most recent collection is Love Song With Motor Vehicles, but he also read some of the incisive and hilarious poems from his previous book, The Vandals, which proved him one of the few poets I've seen who can make postmodern self-referentiality damn funny; he's practically Barthelmian in that regard and definitely worth your readerly attention.

And I would have told you about this sooner, were I not spending so much time writing about '70s movies, but last weekend I attended a fundraiser for Small Spiral Notebook, where I finally got to meet editor Felicia Sullivan in person. I also got a chance to chat with Iowa Short Fiction Award winner Merrill Feitell as we rode up in the elevator to the Vernacular Press studios, which had kindly lent their space to SSN for the evening. Merrill was one of five readers for the evening: Lisa Dierbeck offered a scene from her novel One Pill Makes You Smaller; Cris Beam presented a section from her forthcoming book of reportage focusing on the lives of transsexual teenagers living on the streets of Los Angeles; Rachel Sherman read a section from her novel-in-progress; and Nic Kelman read a scene from his novel Girls. Afterwards, as I was waiting to say hello to one of the writers, I happened to hear another guest mention that he had a novel out soon, and it turned out to be Dave King, which was a happy accident since The Ha-Ha is actually a book I've been looking forward to reading for quite some time now.

And could it really be more than a week ago since I went to see fellow blogger Rachel Kramer Bussel read at East Side Oral? When the reading series has a title like that, and Rachel's latest anthology is Naughty Spanking Stories from A to Z, you can guess what it was like...pretty darn funny, for the most part. Albert Stern read an essay called "Jewish Sexuality, Such As It Is," centered around a long, long search for the Yiddish word for a woman's genitalia (in which the best euphemism translates, roughly, as "that place"). Elizabeth Real read a short story about a torrid office affair with a bad apple, followed by Josh Melrod's wacky story about two boys who set out to have sex with a beached whale on a dare. And then Rachel read her inaugural "Lusty Lady" column from the Village Voice, followed by the semi-notorious short short "Gloss," which is oh-so-Not-Safe-for-Work in textual content...but then, since it's on the Good Vibrations web site, those filters your boss had installed probably won't let you read it at your desk anyway.

And on that note, enjoy the holiday weekend! There will be some minimal activity here, including the first of Beatrice's holiday gift suggestions from guest writers, but mostly, once the plates are cleared, I'll be writing about blaxsploitation and Cassavetes all weekend long...


Ha! I'm glad my story is, um, "semi-notorious." Glad you could make the reading. Yay for dirty stories and cupcakes.

Posted by: Rachel Kramer Bussel at November 24, 2004 09:40 AM
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