Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mirage Divine and The Rumpus's One Year Later Event

Sunday morning. Massive storms are due later today. I'm even hearing about thunderstorms. Who ever heard of a thunderstorm in January?

I am excited about a new blog that has come out, written by my friend Dan:

Mirage Divine

Dan is one of the smartest people I know, and I love spending time in conversation with him and his wife. His most recent post, "Imaginary People" reminds me of a conversation the three of us were having at St. James Gate just before Christmas. We were discussing some of my previous blog posts, as well as some of John Foxx's ideas about the real vs. the illusory, especially in the context of the media (i.e., the "media ghosts" idea). Dan argued that these "ghosts" are just as "real" as any other part of a person's identity, and the fact that a person has grown older, or changed paths doesn't mean that image of them becomes a falsehood. When I read the above post, I realized that this makes a lot of sense. You should read it, too.

On another note, Annalemma Magazine posted a review of The Rumpus One Year Later party in Manhattan on Thursday night. I was at this party, though I couldn't stay past the intermission. I left at 9, made it back to Penn Station by 9:30, and caught the train back to NJ--getting to my stop takes about an hour. Then it takes another 40 minutes to drive home. Which means--leaving at 9--I don't get home until almost midnight, if I catch the right train. When I think about how relatively close I live to Manhattan, this seems idiotic. But the alternative is driving, and that's more expensive and just as time consuming. So, it's the price I pay for living out West.

I enjoyed the party--I arrived early, as I had a meeting downtown, stopped for dinner, and then headed over. I was waiting in the bar, which was downstairs, for things to start. Stephen Elliott came over and introduced himself when he came in. I'd also met him last June at another Rumpus/McSweeney's event, but it's not likely he'd remember me from that. Seating was odd--Broadway East is more of a restaurant than a proper "venue", so there were lots of round booths, and a few tables in the middle. Lots of people ended up sitting on the floor. I wound up sharing a booth with 5 men I'd never met before--mostly aspiring writers, a couple of NYU students as well. Everyone was very nice, though one man I was talking to apparently thought that having a conversation constituted interest on my part, and was forward enough to send me a blog comment suggesting that we either were dating or going to date (I can't quite remember--I just remember being stunned by the comment). And that was AFTER he'd read my post for the romantically perplexed, which apparently wasn't clear enough. A little tip--if I chat with you but don't give you any real contact info, I may think you're a nice person, but I'm not looking to date, thanks. I do resent not being able to go out by myself without people assuming I'm looking to date or hook up or whatever if I talk to them. At the same time, the ugly fact is that this is the general assumption of the culture, so it's hard to blame anyone for thinking it.

I only saw the first half of the event, which was great. There were readings by Justin Taylor, Tao Lin, and Stephen Elliott, and music by Diane Louvel. All of the readings were excellent--Tao Lin seemed the most uncomfortable at the mike, but it was obvious that he had something going on--cold, sore throat, sinus, don't know--that was affecting his reading. It didn't affect my enjoyment of the work though--after hearing him read, I'm definitely going to buy his new book, "Richard Yates" (He's also written "Shoplifting From American Apparel"). Justin and Stephen's works also were intriguing, and will likely invest in those as well (the titles are "Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever" and "The Adderall Diaries", respectively).

I love readings. Frequently I walk into a bookstore and develop instant commitment-phobia. Books are like people--you never really know what they're like until you meet them face to face. Reviews are no better than your friends or family telling you, "I met this great guy who's single, you'd just love him." They might be right, but there's a good chance that they're not right, at least not for you. Author interviews are a bit like what I imagine online dating to be like--they're marketing what they consider to be the best assets of their work, as the work itself can't "talk" to you, sell you on its worthiness. Readings are better because it's like meeting with no pressure of involvement--you just enjoy the work for what it is, or you're bored senseless and glad you don't have to be further involved. Yes, you could also look at the book in the library, or look at some of the pages on Amazon if they're available, but that requires a time commitment, which can be more expensive than a money commitment. It's a matter of individual taste, but the fact is that readings sell me on more previously unknown books than anything else.

Speaking of--I would like to spend the afternoon reading. Which means I have to spend this morning finishing domestic things. And we know that according to relativity theory, weekends are shorter than weekdays, so I'd best get cracking...

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