Bedazzled at the One Story Debutante Ball

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Word to the wise: the One Story Debutante Ball, which transpired yestereve at Roulette in Brooklyn, is actually fancy. How can you tell? The ginger and gin cocktails, the Dixieland melodies from the Blue Vipers, and especially the elegant attire. Emerald was the color of the evening, boldly worn by authors Téa Obreht, Marie-Helene Bertino and Helen Phillips. On the other side of the spectrum, Hannah Tinti, the “mother” of One Story, “rocked,” as we say in modern parlance, a corset and a Tim Burton-esque fascinator.

Once emerging writers, all published in One Story and now all with first books, officially emerged at the ball with their mentors in tow: L. Annette Binder (Rise), Manuel Gonzales (The Miniature Wife), Ben Miller (River Ben Chronicle), Leigh Newman (Still Points North), Ethan Rutherford (The Peripatetic Coffin), Claire Vaye Watkins (Battleborn) and Douglas Watson (The Era of Not Quite). Current and former One Story staffers Elliott Holt (You Are One of Them), Marie-Helene Bertino (Safe as Houses) and Julie Innis (Three Squares a Day with Occasional Torture) also “emerged,” though Holt was away on book tour.

Marybeth Batcha, One Story publisher, read the first lines of the debutantes’ books, such as “The day my mom checked out, Razor Blade Baby moved in” by Claire Vaye Watkins and “The trouble: You want Thing A but are stuck with Thing B” from Douglas Watson. Batcha sent them on their way with writerly tidings, “May your book sell thousands of copies, may you never get a bad review.”

Emma Straub introduced Dan Chaon, One Story Mentor of the Year, who told us that “Nothing gives me more pleasure than going into a class of freshman [and thinking] is there someone I can make more miserable by introducing them to the loneliness and frustration of the writer’s life?” The answer is always yes.

Cigarette girls (and boys) peddled punctuation as opposed to the standard smokes. What was all the rage? The exclamation mark followed by the ampersand followed by the interrobang. If punctuation was insufficiently satisfying, words were available — not just any words, but words with special, secret definitions by authors both living and deceased; Jane Austen was responsible for “Love,” Aleksander Hemon for “Stuff,” and Shakespeare for the word of the evening, “Bedazzled,” which first appeared in The Taming of the Shrew: “Pardon, old father, my mistaking eyes, that have been so bedazzled with the sun that everything I look on seemeth green.”


— Erika Anderson (text), online editor at The Outlet. She like/likes twitter.

— Kai Twanmoh (photographs) is a sometimes contributor to The Outlet. You can find her here.

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