Monthly Archives: November 2011

You Are Not Smarter than Paul Harding | 192 Books

Paul Harding signed book

More than a little Don Rickles

Fellow lovers of literature and audience members: shut up. I’m not interested. The author isn’t. Neither is your mom, your wife, or your dog. The audience is rolling its eyes and looking at its watch. More than likely, you’re not interested in what you’re saying, either.

You’re talking to hear/watch/feel yourself being listened to by Intelligent People.

Back when I was a cute, trim college student, living in a rotting shitbox near school with a fellow acolyte of youth, invulnerability, and alcohol, I fucking loved to hear myself being intelligent. To float above myself, mind’s eye steered by co-captains, Arrogance & Obliviousness, taking in the crowd’s appreciation of my interesting ideas. Like looking at myself in the mirror and managing to see studflesh and allure where there was nothing but a spare tire and the self-awareness of an autistic puppy. I’d peruse the author’s content, think of some unique position to take, back it up with pagination and direct quotes, and poof! I was out on the town, seen by some pretty girls and maybe some classmates, Being Intelligent w/ Other Intelligent People.

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Tom McCarthy, a Gentleman Wouldn’t Use That Language with the Fairer Sex! | McNally Jackson Books

Tom McCarthy signed book

Sit and spin, Tom!

Ed. note: Andrea, Bringer of Happiness and Provider of Sexytimes, has taken over the narrative for this post. Enjoy.

I was entrusted a few months ago with the weighty task of attending Tom McCarthy’s reading at McNally Jackson Books (had my delinquency in writing this post been known at the time, I am not sure I would have been given this opportunity). I’d been to one prior reading at this venue and found it to be civilized enough to provide a relaxed setting for a reading. However, The Insulted had advised me to turn away if it looked like Mr. McCarthy’s audience looked like a rowdy pack.

Quite the contrary – things were very orderly and although all of the seats were soon filled, everyone was polite. Per instructions received, I sat at the front right corner so as to be well-positioned for the reading. I felt like a bit of a fraud – I had no clue as to what his new book was about, nor did I know anything about the author himself and his oeuvre. The audience was quite diverse, so that didn’t give me any sense of what I was about to hear. I sat next to some tittering British art school students. There were also some journalistic types taking notes throughout the reading.

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Adam Ross Brutally Violates my Imagination, Famous Top-Hatted Corporate Mascot of my Youth | Mysterious Bookshop

Adam Ross Mr Peanut

Don't ask what he does with the monocle and foppish cane

Adam Ross made a pitstop at the Mysterious Bookshop in Tribeca to put his throbbing, generously proportioned Hancock in a few sultry books.

I wasn’t there as it wasn’t a reading, but more of a “stop in and sign a few books for the owners” sort of thing. To get my insult, I begged and pleaded and finally left the store with promises that I’d get my book signed, “Bill + Insult.”

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Jennifer Egan Reads from Goon Squad, Discusses Craft with Glenn Kurtz | McNally Jackson Books

Jennifer Egan The Keep

Fellowship is not a substitute for penmanship, Mrs. Egan

Fellow illegible scrawler Jennifer Egan read from her newest novel, A Visit From the Goon Squad, then discussed her writing process with fellow writer Glenn Kurtz.

I showed up about a quarter to seven and frowned at the house. Almost turned around and went home; one of those nights where a beer and a couch sounded better than a discussion about the craft of writing. Glad I didn’t.

Egan reads with a soothing voice, a good handle on the “ups” and “downs” in tone and speed that quite a few authors surprisingly lack. Her voice reminded me of the “folk storytellers” who eke out an existence on the grade school circuit, somehow convincing principals that helping keep alive the DYING ART OF STORYTELLING is worth more than a new computer or more crappy plastic playground material to replace the entertaining wooden death structures of my playground youth. I loved those storytellers even though they were unabashedly lame, and all the video games in Tokyo couldn’t get me to say otherwise. The stupid over-enunciating, the bombastic movements and vocalized sound effects. Usually silk scarves, beads of some sort, like they mixed up “Gypsy” and “Hippie” as children and never quite resolved the differences. Were they dressed as the lovable, sagacious scamp from their stories or was that just the way they dressed? I’ll never know. But their voices were pure peanut butter, and Egan’s was Skippy Lite.

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