Blake Butler MARATHON: Night 1
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Once upon a time, not very long ago, a young man submitted a story to a website called Fifty-Two Stories. The man who ran the website loved the story written by the young man, so much that he published it on his website that very day. Soon, the story became more than a story: it became a novel. The man with the website loved the young man’s new novel and decided it needed more than an ordinary reading to celebrate it. It needed a marathon reading, a reading where the whole entire work would be read over four nights by a host of wonderful writers. And so it was done.
1. WILFs! Readers Rachel Shukert & Jo Weldon. 2. Writer Amy Sohn, author of Prospect Park West, & “the brains behind NYC’s most diverse reading series”, Penina Roth.
The readers, in order:
Calvert Morgan, the editorial director of Harper Perennial (and also the man who ran the website).
John Dermot Woods, author of The Complete Collection of People, Places, & Things.
Erica Barmash, the marketing manager of Harper Perennial.
Jo Weldon, author of The Burlesque Handbook.
Brendan Sullivan, who writes for Esquire and is a “New York nightlife legend and international scenester.”
Brittany Hamblin, the assistant editor of Harper Perennial.
Giancarlo DiTrapano, the editor of New York Tyrant and Tyrant Books.
Justin Taylor, author of Everything Here Is The Best Thing Ever and The Gospel of Anarchy.
Rachel Shukert, author of Everything is Going to Be Great.
and Blake Butler, the young man who is the author of There is No Year.
1. Lindsay Maharry, who is an intern at Gawker, Alan Yuch, who is a “rad dude” (Butler’s words) and the drummer for Byrds of Paradise, & Man of the Evening(s), Blake Butler. 2. Readers Cal Morgan, the editorial director of Harper Perennial, Erica Barmash, the marketing manager at Harper Perennial, & writer Rachel Shukert. Shukert said the reading reminded her of a depression-era dance marathon, minus the desperation.
Morgan opened up the evening, saying that he wanted to keep the event “seamless, fast, and exciting,” and he delivered on his promise. There was nothing marathon-like about the reading: it wasn’t grueling, repetitive, or exhausting, and I didn’t break a sweat or feel the need to consume anything with electrolytes. Thank god.
Butler’s voice is very distinctive, describing ordinary situations in ways that are surreal and strange. It was pretty awesome to get to hear this one voice read by multiple readers, to see how each reader treated his words. So who read it best? Well, Taylor was certainly the most commanding — he read away from the podium, in a voice loud enough that he didn’t even need a mic. But I am partial to hearing the words of the author read by the author himself.
1. John Dermot Woods, who read last night, and The Faster Times’ Lincoln Michel, who is reading on Friday.
If you missed last night, you still have three more chances: Tonight, at WORD with Kendra Malone & Emma Straub; Thursday at The Center for Fiction with Dorothea Lasky, Shya Scanlon, & James Yeh; and Friday at The powerhouse Arena with Ben Greenman, Jonny Diamond, Catherine Lacey, & Lincoln Michel.
Morgan said that there will be a special prize for anyone who comes to all four events. This prize has not yet been decided upon, but the cameraman who was filming the event suggested, by pantomiming with his hands, it might be sex. Marathon readings and free sex? NOW THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT
–Julia Jackson is working on her MFA in fiction at Brooklyn College, and is a regular contributor for Electric Dish.