FRANKLIN PARK KILLS IT
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1. Rich, who works on video games, & Justin Mitchell, who read at the Franklin Park Reading series last month. 2. Kenny & Katrina, who came to the series last month and enjoyed it. Nice to know that the reading series isn’t a hit it and quit it kind of event.
The Franklin Park Reading Series is a monthly event that takes place on the second Monday of every month, inside the Franklin Park Bar and Beer Garden. Last night’s reading had a pretty killer line-up, featuring Rick Moody, Ben Greenman, Jenny D. Williams, Monique Truong, and Leslie Goshko.
The bar was crowded when I got there at a few minutes to eight (and DARK), but we managed to find seats at a table on the side of the stage. Williams read first, with two short pieces entitled “Spirit of the Staircase” and “Sleep Lab.” I was certainly not the most unbiased member of the audience, considering that Williams and I are in the same MFA program, but I’d like to think that even if I didn’t know what a lovely person she is that I’d still find her writing to have a striking yet quiet eloquence, and that both pieces would still manage to give me goosebumps.
1. Rick Moody himself, who was adverse to being photographed with our flash. Smart move. 2. The readers/performers: Ben Greenman, Leslie Goshku, and Jenny D. Williams. Greenman is SO SRS. Just like Chekov.
Goshko is apparently a comedic performance artist, which is a combination of words that normally inspires hatred in me. However, I was pleasantly surprised by her performance, in which she told a story about her experience of accidentally falling into a “gig” as a high school drama teacher, and the corresponding teacher’s pets that come with that sort of job. How does one stumble into such a job? Well, in Goshko’s case, it involved chance, a cast party, and alcohol.
Greenman was up third, and he read “Death of a Red-Haired Man” from Celebrity Chekov, which I had had the pleasure of hearing — but not seeing — him read at JEWCYs The Greatest 3-Minute Guilt Stories Ever a couple months ago. He also read “Her Hand,” from his story collection What He’s Poised to Do. Unlike the Chekov story, which was very funny, this was moving, so we got to get a hint of Greenman’s range in just a few short minutes.
1. Julia, a photographer, and Paul, a web designer. They came because there was readings and beer, which they thought seemed like a good combination. Not pictured — the Arrogant Bastard that Paul was drinking, which, like me, is delicious and comes from San Diego. 2. Sean O’Faolain prize winner Nikita Nelin, and Alberto Daniels, whose first published piece of fiction will come out in a couple weeks in Anamesa.
Truong requested that the lights be turned up for her reading. Once the bar was sufficiently illuminated, she gazed at the audience and asked them, “Why were you not at the reading I had in Charlotte at a mall? There were three people there, and a bookseller had to come and sit down in the audience so I wouldn’t feel bad.”
“Charlotte is not Brooklyn!” yelled a voice from the audience.
“Wow. Wise words,” Truong said. She then read us a section from her novel Bitter in the Mouth, which features a narrator with synesthesia who lives in Boiling Springs, NC — which is where Truong herself had the “great misfortune” of growing up, hence the reading in Charlotte. We were introduced to the narrator’s great uncle, who alphabetized his book collection, but not in the conventional way. Instead, the books filed in A were for Acerbic, B was for Buy another copy for gift, and C was for Cow dung, meaning it stunk.
1. The crowd during intermission. Moody is the black and white blur. 2. The stage.
Moody was last, and he read for us from a part of his novel, The Four Fingers of Death. He told us that he had auctioned off a name of one of his characters for the First Amendment Project in California, and the name he got back was Montese Crandall — a name so “fucked-up” that he decided to make it the protagonist of this book. He made Crandall a complicated, troubled man, but then found out later from a friend that there was a real Montese Crandall living in Florida — and she was an incredibly uncomplicated woman. “Well, it doesn’t matter what you say,” Moody told them, “because the real Montese Crandall doesn’t read.” As usual, Moody’s wit shined through especially strongly due to his expressive but cutting reading style, and we learned about Crandall’s writing, which was extremely boiled down. For instance, he wrote an erotic novella but then cut everything down to the essence, which read, “Go get some eggs, you dwarf.”
To the other people who write for Dish: I claim the Franklin Park Reading Series for next month, okay?
–Julia Jackson is working on her MFA in fiction at Brooklyn College, and is a regular contributor for Electric Dish.