introducing readers to writers since 1995

July 01, 2005

The Author Is Really Speed's Missing Brother, Rex

by Ron Hogan

helmet.jpgWednesday night, I ignored the rain and went to the National Arts Club to check out the Secret Society of Demolition Writers--or, at least, a few of the contributors to this anthology of anonymously published short stories. The book's conceptual mastermind, Marc Parent, brought along customized crash helmets (click on the blurry cameraphone pic for a larger view, including Anna Quindlen's autograph) for himself and the evening's three other participants: Benjamin Cheever, Jonathan Burnham Schwartz, and Daniel Menaker, the Random House editor who gave the project a publishing home--since his first acquisition as an editor was a little something called Primary Colors, he knows a thing or two about anonymity.

As was the case at an earlier Secret Society event Sarah attended, the authors may or may not have been reading from their own work. Cheever led off with a story narrated by a women's magazine editor, set in her workplace, that led me and at least one other attendee to speculate afterwards that this was Rosie O'Donnell's contribution ("It could have been highly cathartic for her," I proposed), after which Schwartz read from the excellent opening pages of "There Is No Palindrome for Palindrome." Menaker read an anonymous story he said had been handed to him just that afternoon; "Here" didn't impress me all that much, though--just another vaguely surreal story in an Aimee Bender/Kelly Link sort of vein in which the mild fantasy elements are proven to be symbolic of some psychological/emotional condition.

After the reading was over, I jumped in a cab to Greenwich Village, where Sarah Bushweller and Emily Morris, the writing team behind "Libby Street," were celebrating the publication of their first novel, Happiness Sold Separately. As servers passed through the crowd with trays of mini-cupcakes and pink snowballs, I chatted briefly with the crew from Romantic Times, then caught up with Downtown Press editor Amy Pierpont, who made sure I got to say hello to her two authors on their big night. "Libby" was featured in a recent Daily News story about product placement in chick-lit, which also gives a shoutout to Alison Pace.

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