Booze, Brownies and Books at WORD Brooklyn
If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.
“I want women to be in touch with their bodies,” began Kate Rockland, author of 150 Pounds, “but not in a, you know, touchy-feely Smith College kind of way.”
And so the tone was set for last night’s reading, “Booze, Books, and Brownies with the Women of Wenner Media (Former!): Gwen Cooper, Kate Rockland, and Gillian Telling.” It was standing room only in the basement of Greenpoint’s WORD bookstore, the double allure of Rolling Stone horror stories combined with advice on breaking into publishing having drawn a mixed crowd of young hopefuls and seasoned warriors alike.
1. Pamela Grossman attended the event in solidarity. She was a copywriter at Wenner Media but now freelances. 2. Amy Klein and the Blue Star Band kept it grrly.
Gwen Cooper took the mic first, reading from a new book she’s writing called Love Saves the Day. The book is named after the now-defunct thrift store in the East Village, which many might remember as the store where Madonna traded in her pyramid jacket in Desperately Seeking Susan. Cooper’s novel is told from the point of view of a cat. Being the owner of a satanic cat myself, I found her narrator, Prudence, a little too innocent to suspend my disbelief, but the book does have a promising premise: Cooper describes it as a “novel about mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, dance music, punk rock, Manhattan’s Lower East Side, living through a recession and — most importantly — how the love of a feline can make all of us better humans.”The Lower East Side has been more life affirming lately; just take a look at this ad I saw today (see picture below). I’ll buy it.
1. Gwen Cooper (and Japadog) want you to send you positive vibes in the Lower East Side.
Next was Gillian Telling, who wrote a sex column for several years at Maxim magazine. She read from her book, Dirty Girls: The Naked Truth about Our Guilty Secrets (Unpretty, Unclean, and Utterly Horrifying). I promised to curb my discussion of scatological matters, so I’ll just say that Telling read from a chapter called “Everybody Poops, Even Gisele Bundchen,” aaand… the title tells you what you need to know. Telling’s voice is like that of your raunchy best friend, the one who told you what really went on in the back of the church bus. She’s Sloane Crosley after six shots of Jack, and entirely fun to listen to.
1. Gwen Cooper. 10% of all of her royalties go to support the Picasso Veterinary Fund that saves special needs animals from being euthanized. Love really does save the day, in her case.
Last to take the stage was Kate Rockland, organizer of the event and former assistant at Rolling Stone Books. Rockland’s own novel, 150 Pounds, tells the story of two highly successful bloggers, one fat and one thin, who grapple with weight and women’s body image. Rockland was drawn to this story because she herself yo-yo’d fifty pounds up and down, twice in two years.
She put together the event because she was inspired by her former Wenner cohorts, all of whom managed to escape their cubicles and succeed in publishing. Though the evening was light on firm advice for young writers (Cooper swears, “I just Googled “How to Publish a Book.” Seriously), the wine was flowing, the brownies delish, and overall, a fun time was had by all.
And Amy Klein and the Blue Star Band closed out the evening by playing some serious grrl rock, complete with lyrics like, “If you wanna chase fireflies…”
In case you wanted to get all Smith College, after all.
by Kate Rockland
by Gillian Telling
— Cassie Hay is a regular contributor to The Outlet. Her essay, “Fishnets,” is forthcoming in New Letters.