1. All three hostesses. Rachel Fershleiser, literary outreach at Tumblr; Maris Kreizman, founder of Slaughterhouse 90210; Amanda Bullock, events director at Housing Works. 2. Miles Klee, representin’ NJ to the fullest, hurling jellyfish. Behind him: Miami Vice.
I’ve attended events at Housing Works before, but last night’s Slaughterhouse 90210 Third Year Anniversary Party pulsed with the excitement and trepidation that only an IRL meeting of online friends can have. Pigeon-chested dudes, barely filling out their blazers, and women with bangs and thick-framed glasses held wine provided by Tumblr, whispered to each other: “Is that Maris Kreizman? Do I say hi? Will she remember that she retweeted me?” Maris, founder of the blog Slaughterhouse 90210, emceed the third birthday of her hilarious contribution to our dashboards, which matches sitcom screenshots with contemporary and classic literary quotes.
1. Alexander Chee, author of Edinburgh, with his friends and former students, Chloe and Elizabeth, now editorial staff at The New Yorker. They make it readable for your iPad. Thank them. 2. My doppelganger with his impressive photo apparatus. His pictures may be better, but they gave the bearded guy a cramp, apparently.
Maris began the evening by describing the birth of her blog, which she created after a friend noticed that she looked bored at work. Instead of making another receptacle for cats that speak adorably idiotic English, Maris made a “harmonious intersection between books and TV,” which is better because Housing Works doesn’t host events for cat blogs. She showed slides of her favorite posts and introduced the evening’s contest, inviting the audience to Tweet or Tumble a TV-lit mashup. The crowd unsheathed their iPhones and Tweeted while luddites muttered puns to themselves. The winner: Married With Midnight’s Children. The winner received a gift certificate to Housing Works.
The night’s first reader was Miles Klee, who read a scene from his debut novel, Ivyland, which is based in a fictional New Jersey suburb overrun with pharmaceutical companies, just like the real New Jersey. Klee’s excerpt described a group of raucous boys on a bus ride home from the beach hurling smuggled jellyfish at cars, waiting for the satisfying “thump” of the creature hitting the windshield “like a superhero punching a henchman.”
1. Nick Rizzo, freelance writer; Maris in the center again; Rachel Syme, taking a break from writing about F. Scott Fitzgerald. 2. Familiar faces, familiar staircase: Miles and Alex.
Rachel Syme followed with a piece written especially for the party. Syme, a biographer of F. Scott Fitzgerald and a TV recap blogger, combined her interests for the mash-up of Maris’s dreams: a TV recap-style summary of the end of The Great Gatsby. Tom Buchanan, the “King of the Real House Dicks of East Egg,” and Gatsby, the “Don Draper of the Hamptons,” chase after Daisy, who proves herself to be “less competent at driving than Mil Gibson and almost as racist.” Just a thought, Rachel: high schoolers would throw a lot of babysitting money at this kind of SparkNote.
1. Dave Hill, noticeably disappointed because the nudity wasn’t sexy enough.
Next was Elisa Albert, who read a section of her novel The Book of Dahlia, in which her protagonist discovers that she has a brain tumor. Albert’s reading was full of a dark, bitter sarcasm, listing all the possible causes of her cancer, from cell phones and processed food to inorganic fruits: “every tart cold berry she’d ever consumed: doom.” The nervous among us shifted in our chairs, bit our nails, and pretended death was for the elderly, not the young, sexy PBR-drinkers at lit parties.
Alexander Chee followed with his story “The Insincere House,” about a boy’s attempt to find meaningful casual sex while on a family vacation. He uses a website called ManHunt, finds a nice specimen wearing nothing but a cock ring, and drives to his house. They have sex with Chelsea Handler on the TV, which to me is more horrifying than cancer.
The final reader was Dave Hill, a comedian, writer, musician, TV personality, and contributor to “This American Life.” Hill read two selections from his forthcoming book, Tasteful Nudes. In “Denudo en el mar,” Hill described his sudden disillusionment when reporting on a clothing-optional dinner on a boat. His second piece, “Bunny,” described his reaction to the death of his mother. No sex or nudity here (thankfully), but there were lucid insights into dealing with death: “Someone telling me my mother had died was like being told she had played for the New York Knicks.” This is widely applicable, unless your mother is Carmelo Anthony.
1. Elisa Albert, telling everyone at the party what’s killing them. 2. Chris and Amy, two literary lovebirds enjoying a night of slaughter.
I’ll say it again: Housing Works hosts great events. According to Amanda, who’s in charge, these include weddings. One day when I’ve found the right nerdy girl, maybe I’ll say my vows there and give people Philip Roth novels as parting gifts. Until then I’ll read Slaughterhouse 90210 and see who’s reblogging it. I recommend you do the same.
–Sam Gold is a member of the generation raised on cartoons. His favorite TV show is Futurama, especially the really sad episodes.