introducing readers to writers since 1995

February 03, 2005

Everybody Loves a Happy Ending

by Ron Hogan

"Who's here to see Jenifer Jackson?" Amanda Stern worked the crowd as she started up another Happy Ending evening. She turned to the corner of the room that had generated the smattering of applause that followed and said, "Then you might want to go home and turn on your iPod, because she's not here." Without the scheduled musical entertainment, Amanda (a self-described "grumpy Jewish girl" who was also threatening to start a pool on the exact temperature of her fever) was forced to go straight to the literary portion of the evening, and Samantha Hunt kicked things off with her public risk: two stanzas of "Annabel Lee" in backwards-talk. Which actually tied into her novel, The Seas, because one of the characters is a former printer, and so there are all these passages where he's set type, and thus the reversed characters, and... So then she reads from the novel, and then Tom Bissell gets up and plays the banjo, then reads an excerpt from "Death Defier," the lead story in his new collection, God Lives in St. Petersburg. (This is the part that made the Significant Other very happy, as she is a tremendous fan of Tom's and she has probably been to see him read more than any other author.)

Now, during all of this, the Significant Other and I are sitting with Soft Skull Press publisher (and now a Recognized Literary Icon (TM), thanks to PW) Richard Nash and his friend Colm, and then Richard brought over the evening's third guest, David Rees, and his wife, Sarah. So I am sitting very calmly, doing my best not to go all fanboy in front of David, when Lauren Grodstein sits down at the next table, making this two nights in a row that she and I have run into each other on the literary party circuit. Then Elizabeth Kadetsky comes over to say hello, and introduces me to Dale Maharidge, her colleague at Columbia's School of Journalism. I chatted with them a bit during intermission about Dale's former pupil, Julian Rubinstein, and the great week he's had, after which it was David's turn to wow the crowd with a "Mysterypiece Theater" presentation starring a clip art character named "Sunglasses Joe," in which the boss who refuses to let Joe update the office voice mail system, even after Joe puts together a dazzling Powerpoint demonstration, is savagely murdered. Let me tell you: all readings from this day forward should include PowerPoint, Edward Tufte be damned.

Tom is reading at B&N Astor tonight (2/3) and at KGB next month, while Samantha will be at KGB this weekend (2/6) and at Cupcake on the 9th. So go see them!

If you enjoy this blog,
your PayPal donation
can contribute towards its ongoing publication.