1. Jess Lacher, Sarah Goffman, & Phil Klay, who are all in the fiction MFA program at Hunter College. 2. The readers for the evening: Amy Hempel, Hannah Tinti, & A.M. Homes. Notice the braids!
I was beginning to think the music world and the lit world switched their ideas about the start times for events. Lately, every music show I have been to has started more or less on time, while the lit events have begun at least thirty minutes after the advertised start time. So I was a bit disappointed when I walked in to The Stone at 8:05 last night and found the room dark and crowded; it was standing room only. Or rather, sitting room only, as the gentleman who took my $10 handed me a foam cushion to sit on.
Hannah Tinti had already begun reading by the time I found myself a bare patch of ground in the corner, and although I was a bit distracted by the other late people (who comes in late to a reading?! what a bunch of disruptive assholes), her language and reading style quickly transported me into her story, which featured blood, goats, and hard-drinking men. Then it was time for a treat: in honor of the mainly musical venue, and because Philip Glass was playing after the reading, Tinti felt that she should do something musical, so she played her ukelele. The tune was “Ring of Fire,” and the crowd was instructed to sing along during the chorus. “I can’t believe I’m doing this,” Tinti said, before she began playing. “But playing music is like falling in love–you just have to keep on embarrassing yourself or you’re never going to get any better.” (Tinti must be pretty good at love, because she certainly didn’t embarrass herself on the uke.)
Amy Hempel read next, and was I ever STOKED to see her read. Why? 1) Because she’s an amazing writer. 2) Because she’s an amazing person. 3) Because she was reading short shorts, and short shorts are awesome. We heard “The Orphan Lamb,” “I Stay With Syd,” “Sing To It,” and “Memoir,” Hempel’s most autobiographical work, which was also the shortest thing she ever wrote.
A.M. Homes read us an excerpted version of her story, “The Omega Point or Happy Birthday Baby,” which was featured in issue #139 of One Story. We learned that jelly doughnuts are a fun food, and also that there is a difference between a secret and something that hasn’t yet been said. The reading ended and we were herded out of the room, since Philip Glass’s audience was already lining up outside. Lou Reed was lurking around, looking like the other man in black, but he bounced before I could take a picture.
–Julia Jackson is working on her MFA in fiction at Brooklyn College, and is a regular contributor for Electric Dish.