Currently viewing the category: "reading in public is scary"

 

I will have the great pleasure of reading with some of Los Angeles’ best writers, including Joe Donnelly and Antonia Crane, among several others, at Slake Magazine‘s Halloween  Reading at the coolest AND the hottest new LA-area bookstore, Pop-Hop Books & Print in Hancock Park. The address is on the poster above. The date is October 30. The time is 7PM.

Excuse me, have to go write something scary now. Or at least spooky.

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I was at a dinner party recently at which I met a Famous novelist, who told a story about meeting the Very Famous novelist Thomas Pynchon, who I’m sure you know has a reputation for being, shall we say, a very private person. He doesn’t give interviews. He doesn’t do readings. It’s big news when a decades-old photo of his wrist appears. Nobody knows what he looks like. Etc.

Pynchon came up in conversation because FN and I were talking about the strange phenomenon of author readings, with which we have both long since made our peace, and the daunting task of establishing and maintaining an online “presence” that nowadays comes with the business of writing books. Understand that no one forces us to do readings, or to establish and maintain an online presence, but it is expected, and because of the changing ways in which people discover and consume cultural artifacts, it’s almost inescapable.

So much so, that when FN met Pynchon, Pynchon was musing about the possibility of doing a book tour for his new novel. To which a horrifed FN replied, “No! You can’t! Don’t you see, you have what we all want. You did it. You got away with it. Why throw that away now?”

To which Pynchon replied that, yes, he had “gotten away with it,” but he was pretty sure that if he’d come along twenty years later, he wouldn’t have been able to do so.

There’s a lot to be said for participating in the writerly conversation, for interacting with both readers and other writers, for the free exchange of ideas and enthusiasms. I get that, I really do. But I still struggle with the opposing urge towards hermetic solitude that is, I think, at the root of any writer’s being.

And I still envy the fuck out of Pynchon.

 People having fun (in theory)

Saturday evening, January 22, 2011, there occurred a launch party for Slake Issue 2 “Crossing Over.” Slake is a literary magazine but it’s as big as a book if not bigger, certainly bigger than my books tend to be because I am a very slow writer. And it has art and things inside of it, too.

The party was at a place called Track 16 at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, which is partly part of Los Angeles. How you get there is you drive off the freeway and onto a brief, dark road that dead ends in a parking lot where you are surrounded by art galleries and other exotic plants.

I mention this mainly because I had to read in front of an estimated crowd of 700 citizens, only about thirty of whom could hear, through the inadequate PA system, over the clatter of hooves (many people were wearing horseshoes, I think this might be a new thing). There was free food, there was cheap food, there were free drinks, there were cheap drinks. Somebody played music over the PA system after several of us read what we had written in Issue 2 (“Crossing Over.”) People seemed to enjoy themselves but how can you really tell without a statistically significant poll?

There will be more events in connection with the launch of this new issue. I encourage you to attend.