De-stressing at the New York launch of McSweeney’s #41

1. Some party people! 2. The readers posing for a professional photographer (I jumped in on this, amateur-style).

The people who attended and read at the launch of McSweeney’s #41 have no idea how much they mean to me. After the worst day at my day-job last Monday (I actually cried), I still felt strange en route to to the Charles Bank Gallery for the launch of the latest issue. Appropriately, I forgot my wallet when I switched to a larger purse for my camera, arriving six minutes past the starting time. The gallery was packed: people buying books, people looking at the art, and people mingling with cups of free seltzer and wine in hand. I grabbed a seltzer and picked a seat near the front and waited for my good friend to join me, admiring Cassandra C. Jones’ work on the wall, which also appears on the newest issue’s cover and endpapers.

1. Eric Meyers of Penguin Group, Nicole Wooley of Captiv8 Promotions, and Tiffany Liao of St. Martin’s Press. 2. Paul Legault channeling a modern Emily Dickenson.

Once the rest of the seats were filled, the crowd quieted down for the first reader, Paul Legault, who wore suspenders and read from his newest book project, The Emily Dickinson Reader. Legault introduced Dickinson — whose work he has translated into basic, modern English — as “the most famous lesbian vampire of the 19th century.” He opened with “My friend’s a slut but whatever give her a break,” (laughs from the crowd), then continued on to “It’s hard to find an apartment when you’re an abstract though.” (Giggles abounded near the entrance.) “Some of these are just serious and sad,” Legault noted after his reading, “I might be a zombie but I still have to go to work.” It was exactly what I needed to hear, given my post-Monday work funk.

1. Aurora Almendral, writer, with friend Sophie Wise, retail director at Cynthia Rowley. 2. Karolina Waclawiak revealing truths through her fiction about senior women and their libidos.

The next reader was Karolina Waclawiak, deputy editor of The Believer. Waclawiak read from her new novel How To Get Into the Twin Palms. The scene she read from describes her protagonist, who works at a senior citizen’s home, calling numbers for bingo. Most of the old women bring pictures of their deceased husbands as lucky charms. “You need sex, I need sex, everyone needs sex,” a woman says to the narrator, “I still need it. You think I don’t have needs? I’m 82 and my libido is raging.” Cue crowd response of uncomfortable laughter. With the narrator noticing the old women “shaking and salivating,” waiting for the next number to be called, the section ended. I felt like I had become one of the old women in her story, but really, I was waiting for her to continue to the next part.

1. Waterhouse and Dodd Gallery intern Karolina Chojnowska, and Global Management MBA Student Rishi Patel. 2. Kinkos regular, Jason Polan, reading his two letters to the company.

Last we heard from Jason Polan, who must be a pretty busy guy. He’s currently working on a column for the New York Times called “Things I Saw,” aiming to draw every single person in New York City. Before Polan started reading, he pointed out that behind the microphone the pretty pink, white, and black print that looked like an intricate wall decal was in fact made of tiny flamingos. Fittingly, Polan noted that he had visual aids to go along with his reading of his two letters to Kinko’s, about an encounter with a “terse” employee. My favorite part of the reading was the silly drawing Polan made of the Kinko’s employee’s angry face, and his side note at the end of the copy center saga. (When Polan went to Kinko’s prior to this event to scan and blow up his illustrated image of the angered worker, it was that same “terse” employee who helped him again. I love a good funny fate story.)

1. Co-founder of the Charles Bank Gallery, Adam Charles Greenberger, introduces the newest issue and the readers. 2. The crowd brought the fun outside. The weather was amazing!

I laughed a lot. With my McSweeney’s 41 in hand, I left the Charles Bank Gallery a de-stressed human again, ready for dinner with my friend.


— Lisa John Rogers is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. You can find her occasionally embarrassing herself here or here.

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