Franklin Park’s 3rd Annual Short Fiction Night

1. Katy Pierce, a painter, with David Greenwood, who writes monographs on tweed. 2. Sarah Caciaio, a linguistics student at the CUNY Grad Center, Melynda Fuller, an editor and nonfiction writer, Andy Devlin, a filmmaker, & Liza Monroy, author of Mexican High.

On Monday, I arrived at Franklin Park Bar in Crown Heights over an hour early, in order to meet with some of my co-workers here at EL for happy hour before the reading. The bar was already crowded, and all of the seats were occupied. We just happened to be in the right place at the right time, and managed to snag one of the booths as its inhabitants were leaving. My point: if you’ve ever wondered how early you have to get to the bar to find a seat, the answer is Very Early.

Fortunately, the crowd had come for good reason: great literature, and an especially great line-up, featuring two talented hot ladies and three talented and hilarious Woody Allenish-voiced men, showcasing the wonders of short fiction. And the rest of the world is taking notice of what is happening at the monthly series, earning mentions in publications from BlackBook to The New Yorker to Time Out.

1. Adam Wilson, whose book Flatscreen is out next month (he’s also set to read at the series in March), writer Robert Lopez, author of Asunder and Kamby Bolongo Mean River, & writer Polly Bresnick. 2. The stars of the evening: Gary Lutz, Christine Vines, Mitch Levenberg, Sam Lipsyte, & Catherine Lacey.

Christine Vines opened up the evening with a story called “Cookie,” which was about the man who writes the fortunes inside the cookies that resemble “petrified Band-Aids,” and talked about the joys of finger calluses during sex and also equated “enthusiasm” to manspunk. Good stuff.

Mitch Levenberg read a story called “The Cat” next, although he told us that he’s more of a dog person. The story involved two homeless men (referred to as Tangled Hair and Envelope Face), a whore who went to college, the protagonist/victim, and, of course, a cat.

Catherine Lacey read three short pieces from a longer work. One included a mother who dropped her children off at the police station, one repeated the refrain “Remove yourself from my automobile,” and the third focused on a think tank. What they all had in common: a sense of estrangement. It was beautiful work, and, as host Penina Roth commented, “haunting.”

1. Not sure if this photo does the crowd justice, but this is what it looked like from my coveted seat in the booth.

Gary Lutz was first after the break, reading a story called “The Driving Dress.” This story was about a dissolved marriage — a “clean” one with “no missed periods or abortions,” or much “cramming of anything into each other’s darlings.” The ex-husband in the story diligently dieted until he could fit himself into his ex-wife’s clothing, which is, you know, a totally normal thing for a man to do.

Sam Lipsyte read last, regaling us for nearly forty-five minutes from a section of “The Climber Room,” which is about a preschool teacher and her mishaps, including but not limited to: “business yoga casual” dress, binge eating until the eater becomes a “vile sack of fat and rot,” being called “hot, with slightly extra large bones” on a first date, and exposed old man penis. The result? Hilarious and engaging.

This was the last reading in which Jamie E. Reich would serve as the series’ hard-working intern. But although we’re sad to see her go, you can still catch her at series installments in the future, as well as read her work in places like Fwriction and Armchair/Shotgun.

Next month at the series: “Unconventional Love,” with Ben Marcus & Martha Southgate, among others.

Principles of Uncertainty and Other Constants: Stories by Mitch Levenberg

by Mitch Levenberg

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Divorcer

by Gary Lutz

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The Ask

by Sam Lipsyte

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***

— Julia Jackson writes fiction and is the editor of Electric Dish.

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