introducing readers to writers since 1995

January 23, 2005


by Ron Hogan

Sunday was supposed to be anything but a day of rest for this literary diarist, but the weather had other plans in store for me, and as the snow fell all day Saturday and into the evening, the first event was officially cancelled, when Lauren Henderson sent an email informing me her in-store appearance at Coliseum to celebrate the publication of Jane Austen's Guide to Dating was indefinitely postponed. The advice (read an excerpt) is fairly standard, but Lauren (an all too infrequent drinking companion of your diarist) puts an entertaining spin on it by showing how it plays out in Austen's novels...and she's a refreshingly modern commentator on Austen as well (I know I've never seen any other critic willing to go on record as calling Miss Bingley "one of the nastiest bitches in the whole of Austen's work"). Lauren doesn't just analyze dating novels, by the way, she writes them, too: her latest, Don't Even Think About It, showed up fairly recently as well.

So that event was off, and when I tried to call the venue for the next event I was planning to attend, a Pam Houston reading at a downtown pet shop, nobody answered the phone. If you're wondering why a pet shop, well, Houston's latest, Sight Hound, is a story about (among other things) the bond between a middle-aged female playwright and her three-legged wolfhound, who occasionally takes over the narration from his human...sharing the spotlight, as it were, with his veterinarians, a housekeeper, another dog and even a cat. Anyway, faced with the prospect of making my way into Manhattan from the Outer Boroughs and then all the way downtown, I decided to stay in and catch up on my reading--knowing that I could hear Houston read on the Leonard Lopate show Monday. (She'll be all over the place for at least two months, too, so chances are you'll get to one-up me by seeing her in person.)

So, as I say, I avoided the inclement weather by reading indoors: a little book reviewing, a little catching up with the NYTBR, where several things made me happy, including Rachel Donadio revisiting Stephen Greenblatt's Shakespeare and reviews for two writers who will be reading at New York Barnes & Nobles later this week; Dave King, whose The Ha-Ha has been warmly mentioned in this blog, will read at Astor Place Wednesday (1/26), while J Milligan hits Park Slope this Friday. Milligan's novel, Jack Fish, is dubbed "like a Mark Leyner novel, but with a plot, and harpoons." Remember Mark Leyner novels? Those were fun. I wonder if we'll see one of those again any time soon...

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