Boy With a Blog in His Side — Largehearted Lit’s 10th Anniversary at WORD Brooklyn
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1. WORD’s “Vandalized by Author” wall. There weren’t any phone numbers. 2. Jen Gillmore, Dead Heads, joints.
David Gutowski, of Largehearted Boy and most recently Book Boroughing, describes himself on his Twitter bio as such: “I read and write and listen to music. A lot.” This is all you really need to know about Gutowski and his blog, who celebrated 10 years (!) of lit/music blogging at Greenpoint’s fantastic WORD bookstore last night with readings from Emma Straub (Other People We Married), Jen Gilmore (Something Red), a musical performance from Alina Simone (You Must Go and Win), and a ridiculously sweet raffle benefiting Girls Write Now.
1. David Gutowski introducing Alina Simone. 2. Alina Simone, a kind of guitar I’ve never seen, and an awesome t-shirt.
People love Largehearted Boy. It’s hard not to, considering that the blog has been around since 2002 and is one of the foundational pillars of the internet literary community. When I think about the blogs I love to read, Gutowski’s included, I love them for a simple reasons. The bloggers seem like nice people who are geeks in that word’s truest definition — they have an unabashed, genuine passion for a particular subject. Like, if I was sitting on the couch with Gutowski, I imagine he’d be so excited to show me all his favorite books, stories, and records that we couldn’t get through all of them. Everyone downstairs at WORD echoed this sentiment in some way or another, and were there not because Largehearted Lit is a rad lit party, but to thank Gutowski for being alive and being him.
The crowd was first treated to a heartrending video from mentor program Girls Write Now, which helps teenage girls develop professional and individual voices through creative writing. 100% of their high school seniors graduate high school and go on to attend university. All raffle proceeds went to GWN, and the prizes were a buttload of books from several publishers, ranging from Archie Comics to Riverhead to Two Dollar Radio. It was the best kind of swag a lit nerd could imagine.
1. David Archer and Alex Houstoun. They do books at Vintage/Anchor. 2. Gabrielle Gantz (Publicist at Penguin, The Contextual Life, Book Boroughing), Courtney Allison and Angelina Venezia, Publicists at Vintage/Anchor, all really stoked for LHB!
Jen Gillmore’s apropos selection from her novel Something Red was perfect: the lead character, Benji, has his first stoned concert encounter with “The Grateful Fucking Dead,” where he felt Jerry “read his mind.” Benji’s (our protagonist) Dead Head devotion mirrored Largehearted Boy’s love for all things literary and musical, and the crowd’s: blogs like LHB often introduce us to the new and exciting, to authors we follow devoutly because we are ceaselessly stoked by their work. Gillmore prefaced her reading by asking Gutowski what the best and worst moments were of the last ten years. Gutowski was floored by the outreach from writers and bloggers to LHB — most recently he got an e-mail from Stewart O’Nan wanting to contribute to the blog’s awesome “Book Notes” section — but also receiving his first cease and desist from Bonnaroo for posting performance videos to his blog. That alone is a testament to LB’s clout, and also pretty bad ass.
Alina Simone, who sent him tunes out of the blue, was a favorite of Gutowski’s musical acts, along with Arcade Fire’s first EP and Sharon Van Etten’s self-released CD-R. Simone told us LHB was a “venue that matters” and surprised Gutowski with a raucous rendition of the Russian “happy birthday” song with help from Maria Sonevytsky (The Debutante Hour) on accordion. Gifts promised in the song included but were not limited to 500 ice cream sandwiches. Alina’s own song was an acoustic marriage somewhere between Bjork and Joanna Newsom. I wasn’t sure how the injection of music at a reading would work, but Simone’s delivery and melodies elicited intimacy from the ear and fit perfectly in the string of performances.
In his introduction, Gutowski told us he couldn’t think of anyone else he would want to close out the evening, a writer he loves as much as Lorrie Moore and Nabokov. Before Straub read from her story “Fly-Over State,” the first piece Gutowski read of hers, she told us a story of her own tenth birthday, where she tried too hard to impress her brother’s “super hot” friend by stuffing a bustier and lip-syncing to a New Kids on the Block song. Straub expressed her unending appreciation for LHB and his support, of which many authors owe thanks. I admit to you, the Internet, that I have a literary crush on Emma Straub. If I could bake, I would make her cookies frosted in the shape of her favorite New Kid on the Block’s face.
The evening closed out with the raffle drawing. Many attendees went home with at least 10 books. Some lucky ticket holders were drawn two or three times and graciously advised Gutowski to draw again. I’m going to be cheesy here. There was a lot of love in that room last night. In internet years, the number 10 is as good as 40. Gutowski has been blogging before Facebook. Before Twitter. His blog has been integral in creating the Web 2.0 literary space. Dude is OG. I got to chat with Gutowski afterwards, and the clearest sense I went home with was how honest he is about the blog. Largehearted Boy exists because David Gutowski exists and he loves it absolutely. For more coverage of last night’s reading, see Gabrielle Gantz’s post on Book Boroughing here.
Other People We Married by Emma Straub
Something Red by Jennifer Gilmore