FRANKLIN PARK GETS FLESHY
During the first real snowfall of the year, inside Franklin Park Bar and Grill on Monday, the emphasis was on nonfiction and “indelible images,” not on falling frozen chunks of water. It wasn’t quite as crowded as last month’s reading, and I’m sure the cold had something to do with that. But the room was still amply filled with literary lovers, enjoying the $4 beers and the food that puts the “grill” in Franklin Park Bar and Grill.
Dan Lopez, who earned his MFA at the University of Central Florida, was up first, with a memoir piece about a “failing recipe.” Flan, he told us, tends to be “idiot proof,” but this doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t have challenges with it. Lopez realized he wasn’t a cook back in college, when a cooking attempt ended in stitches. His version of the dessert was for Thanksgiving: pumpkin flan. Besides learning about his adventures with delicious pumpkiny custard, we also heard about his mother, whose closest thing to a hobby is fear, and his grandmother, whom he had accompanied on a trip down to South Florida for the holidays.
1. Talmadge’s literary tattoo, which she got to support the project. It’s a window and a doorway, inspired by a poem by Daniil Kharms, a Russian poet. Taylor and Talmadge’s agent liked the idea and got a literary tattoo that same day. Taylor remains untattooed. 2. Ryan Britt, of Nerve.com, & Allegra Frazier, of Soon Quarterly. Britt has been coming to the reading series since January because it is “the best reading series in the city.” He also opened for Mary Gaitskill, who read at the series in April, which felt like being the guy who played spoons for Blondie. Reading that night didn’t guarantee him a good seat — it was very crowded and he sat on the floor.
Peter Hyman read his piece “Head Case,” which was originally published in Slate. “Head Case” is about an actual head case–a brain tumor. (Since tumors must be compared to fruits and nuts, Hyman’s was raspberry-sized.) Apparently tumors are like bigfoot sightings–you only see pictures of them that are grainy and in black and white, and you’re not really sure if they exist. He worried that the removal of the tumor would change the essence of his mind. But no, his mind is the same “unremarkable” one–he was just a little more aware of its fragility.
Beth Greenfield read from her memoir, Ten Minutes from Home, a section right after she was in a car accident that killed her brother and best friend. She saw the school’s counselor, whose usual patients were the bad kids, who did drugs and had divorced or abusive parents. But another girl saw the guidance counselor and had something in common with Greenfield; she was also a tough girl whose brother died in an accident. They began seeing the counselor together and developed an unlikely friendship. Greenfield’s writing was devastating: clear, precise, and moving. I definitely want to check out her book.
1. Todd & Susan. Todd got a copy ofWhat Was The Hipster?, as seen in this picture, in the mail that day [CORRECTION] . 2. Readers Dan Lopez, Beth Greenfield, & Peter Hyman.
During the break, I smoked cigarettes in the cold and talked to some other students and writers about creative ways to scrounge up money. When the break was over, Taylor and Talmadge showed us a slideshow presentation from The Word Made Flesh. The slides included their first submission, which was the last line from Ulyssess (yes I said yes I will yes), two tattoos from the winner of Most Literary Tattoos (eight), and a Harry Potter tattoo, because the collection doesn’t snub books like that (even Twilight tattoos are still “literary,” apparently). We learned that Plath, e.e. cummings and Samuel Beckett are popular writers to get inscribed into flesh. Talmadge is now working on a collection of music tattoos, so if you have any song lyrics or band images, submit them to her website.
1. Franklin Park Reading Series curator Penina Roth, Liza Monroy, & Jamie Reich. Monroy read at the first reading series in March of 2009, and Reich was operating the slide machine for Talmadge and Taylor. She’ll be reading at next month’s reading series, which will be based on short fiction. 2. Slideshow time! This man has some Plath around his neck. Apparently Plath is a very popular choice for literary tattoos.
Taylor wrapped up the evening with a section of his forthcoming novel, which was, as curator Penina Roth commented, “really intense.” The scene featured two guys and a girl in bed together in a house of anarchists in Florida. There were blow jobs, and there was cunninlingis, and there was intercourse (no anal). And yes, it was really intense, but somehow not gratuitous. But then again, maybe I’m not the right person to ask about that–I’m not really sure if I ever think sex is gratuitous.
–Julia Jackson is working on her MFA in fiction at Brooklyn College, and is a regular contributor for Electric Dish.