Last night, we celebrated the launch of our most recent baby, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, at Parlor New York in SoHo. In case you’re unaware, Recommended Reading is free, digital content that will come to subscribers weekly. For each week of the month, a new story is selected: the first, by our staff (the first issue features a new story by Ben Marcus); the second, by an indie press like Akashic or New Directions; the third, by an established writer such as Jim Shepard; and the fourth, will come from a literary magazine’s — such as One Story or Tin House – archives.
Parlor New York is a chic, black-walled, members-only nightclub and was a great venue for the evening. As one party attendee told me, “It reminds me of my mother’s place.” I asked him what his mother did for a living, thinking he’d say she was an art curator or psychologist or something else that made her ‘edgy’ and maybe a little ‘neurotic.’ But no– “She’s a middle school lunch lady,” he replied. When I arrived a little after 8, the room with the bar was already packed, and the DJ was spinning ’70s era sexy disco. The crowd was swilling whiskey, because we at EL are very pro-whiskey, and also because the party was sponsored by Tullamore Dew (coincidence? I think not!).
No readings, no lectures, and no PowerPoint presentations interrupted the festivities — the party was pure party. However, midway through the evening, Recommended Reading’s co-editors, Halimah Marcus and Benjamin Samuel, offered a toast and a thank-you to all the backing partners and contributors to the Kickstarter fund (almost $19,000 was raised!). Electric Literature’s co-founder & Recommended Reading’s “Godfather,” Andy Hunter, also offered some inspirational words: He told us that he had had lunch with Mary Gaitskill about a year ago, and he asked her what she thought about current literary fiction. “It’s bloodless,” she replied. “Well, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading promises to only publish fiction that is full of blood,” Hunter affirmed. “We’ll soak our subscribers in blood.”
And it was done.
The party goers danced well into the night, their veins pumping hot blood and cold whiskey.
–Photos by Kai Twanmoh. Text by Julia Jackson.