1. John, a photographer, & Lacey, a bartender, going back to the LES after feeling withdrawals from their recent move to Brooklyn. 2. As Brad Listi would say: “It’s a book, you can read it, oh my god.”
I’d been hearing some buzz around the new(ish) reading series Fiction Addiction, but had failed to make it out to see what all the talk was about. Then I met the series’ curator, Christine Vines, at Franklin Park earlier this month, and, after being impressed by both her writing skills and sweetness, I decided I really had to get over to 2A this month to check it out. This month seemed to be an especially good place to start, with the theme being “Potential” (fitting for the new year), and the readers including Said Sayrafiezadeh, Joshua Furst, Nadia Kalman and Tanya Rey.
The series is held in the second floor of the bar, which is a small room that is still made comfortable by plenty of places to sit, lean, and — if you’re me — rest your notebook to frantically scribble notes. There’s candles, there’s big windows, the walls are a soft cream and warm brown– it’s evident that this neighborhood, and this bar, has gotten a make-over in the past few years. Music and laughter drifts up from the bar-goers downstairs, but they’re far enough away that you can still make out each reader’s words without becoming distracted. So, in short, it’s a perfect space to have a reading.
Tanya Rey, who has glowing skin and shiny hair and looks all of seventeen, was the first reader. She told us that she felt like DJ Laz opening up for Lady Gaga, and, “if you don’t know who DJ Laz is… exactly.” She read from her novel-in-progress, which takes place in Cuba and Miami, but the section she read from was a Cuba chapter. We heard about the “summer of good fights,” and two young girls whose friendship turned into something more. There was a tastefully-done sex scene, which followed a piece of wisdom that I’ve picked up from Amy Hempel: If you want to write about sex, the scene has to be explicated by something else (the “something else” here was birds). Rey is someone to definitely keep an eye on– girl really knows how to craft a sentence.
Nadia Kalman went next, and said that this was one of the most “innovative and terrifying” reading series, pointing to the big screen-sized projection of herself on the brick wall of the building across the street (Oh, did I forget to mention that? Fiction Addiction bonus: if you read here, you will literally be as big as a movie star). She read a section in which any relationship’s potential would be tested: when we take our significant other to meet our family for the first time. We were treated to a Passover scene with Russian Jews, in which they argued over the first line of Anna Karenina. (“No one in America knows how Anna Karenina actually starts,” said an especially codgy relative.) The prose was lively, clear, and bitingly funny.
Joshua Furst was the third reader of the night, and read to us from One Inch Tall, his novella, which opened up in an awesomely brutal way, featuring “ax-wielding trolls,” “pelts of human scalp,” and “daggers of icy fear.” Furst’s nerdy humor made me wish my nerdiest-of-nerds BFF was there to enjoy it (she’s got a twenty-sided dice tattooed on each wrist, for christsake, and would have loved Furst dropping nerd bombs like “+1 agility”). We segued seamlessly into more traditional territory, with a clueless and very nerdy narrator who did things like prematurely express his love, which resulted in a slammed door in the face. But potential prevailed– by the end of the section, the narrator had fallen into a requited “dependence called love.”
Said Sayrafiezadeh was the final reader of the evening. He told us that he’d lived two blocks east from 2A when he first moved to NYC in the ’90s, back “when this area was a shithole.” His apartment featured luxurious amenities such as a toilet that didn’t properly flush and a non-functional refrigerator. “I used to walk by this bar and think [the people outside] were the coolest people I’d ever seen,” he said. “And now look at us.” He read “Most Livable City” from The Paris Review, which featured: Pittsburgh, a bus strike, a stroke-victim neighbor, and a lecherous boss. Oh, and tons of good one liners, such as “My cock feels full with the thought of you in my heart.”
My verdict on Fiction Addiction? Between the talented writers, the big screen, and the comfortable space, the series is highly recommended. Catch it monthly, on the last Tuesday of each month.
–Julia Jackson is a fiction writer and the editor of Electric Dish. Find her on the internet here.