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1. The Bookslut herself, Jessa Crispin, with reader Shalom Auslander. 2. Guy Cunningham, a fiction writer who writes reviews for Bookslut, & Talia Page, who is working on a novel and a publishing company, which will be called MSS Page.
September saw the release of Bookslut’s 100th issue, and so last night Melville House Publishing hosted a party for the occasion. We mingled, snacking, drinking beer and wine while surrounded by copies of Melville House books in their DUMBO office. The crowd was mostly insider types: friends of the readers and Melville House employees. I managed to overhear a conversation about a certain man (let’s just call him “Chris”) who saw the breasts of one past intern. When I asked if this was some good literary gossip, “Chris” said no, but that he had also spanked a different intern, licentious interns being the takeaway.
1. Anne Horowitz (who is the assistant editor of Softskull Press, but they’re closing their New York office so she is soon to be out of a job. Let her use her skills to put out wonderful books! The world will be a better place because of it!), Molly Lindley (who works for Simon and Schuster), & Nicole Pasulka (who is a nonfiction writer). 2. Writers Austin Grossman & Joanne McNeil.
Daniel Nester opened up the evening. He wondered about other possible domain names that the “one-person institution” behind Bookslut, Jessa Crispin, had not bought, such as afterbirth.info or bookskank.com.
Kathryn Davis read first, a “virgin reading” of her not-yet-finished upcoming novel. The piece felt like a sci-fi fairy tale, sci-fi because it was set in an alternate future, and fairy because there was a sorcerer who managed to turn a toy bear into a baby named Blue Eyes. The writing was elegant and captivating, and although the logic to this world was foreign, I was immediately seduced by it.
Shalom Auslander read next. He first became acquainted with Crispin about five years ago, when he received an invitation to visit Chicago from Bookslut. It was not what he expected, he said, and this made it awkward for the both of them. Auslander is currently working on a novel, but it’s “shitty,” so instead he read an article published in a German newspaper shortly after the earthquake in Haiti entitled “I Miss God,” which covered tragic events, the earthquake and Auslander’s own son nearly dying from pneumonia, personal struggles, like renouncing God, and the cowardice and outrageous statements of Jerry Falwell and Pat Buchanan. It was touching and thought-provoking, and yet still very, very funny, even inducing snort-laughs from the audience.
1. Christopher King, the art director of Melville House, Jason Bennett, the publicity director, & Brittany Banta, who is a pretzel lover and a member of the secret illuminati book club. “Melville House is the best publisher ever,” they say. “Especially the covers. And the pretzels.” 2. Melville House books! And art!
In the final portion of the evening, the publisher of Melville House, Dennis Johnson, interviewed Crispin. When Johnson asked what was up with Bookslut’s name, Crispin explained that she probably bought the domain when drunk because she doesn’t remember why she did it. She was, however, working at a “pro-choice women’s clinic” in Austin at the time, and was surprised when people had problems with the name. The blog had humble beginnings: Crispin started it because she had an office job with a lot of time in front of the computer. Back in those days, she’d Google her favorite authors and was disappointed when not much about them came up. When she did find something, she’d e-mail it to her friends, but eventually, she decided that having a blog of her findings would be a lot less obnoxious.
Crispin also discussed her new life in Berlin. She really enjoys living there: rent is cheap and you can go to the Berlin Opera for eight Euros and they sell cheese-covered pretzels. She also doesn’t fear for her life in her apartment anymore, because review copies of books are now sent to Michael Schaub, the managing editor of Bookslut, in Portand. But her favorite part of life in Berlin? The twelve-year-old girls lugging copies of Follett books on the subways, with whom she falls in love immediately.
–Julia Jackson is working on her MFA in fiction at Brooklyn College, and is a regular contributor for Electric Dish.