From P-Town: Ben Loory and Rae Bryant at Powell’s

1. Moose Fiction Fans: Jeremy Robert Johnson thinks Loory writes the finest, most cathartic moose-based fiction since Gary Larson picked up a paint brush. Cameron Pierce agreed, saying “a moose a moose a moose a moose a moose a moose a moose.” Kirsten Alene complimented the sentiment; Loory’s moose tale is the best story about a moose ever written. 2. Loory says something funny. The crowd goes wild.

The Ben Loory and Rae Bryant reading at the Hawthorne Powell’s began with the ordinary and switched to something else.

Bryant read from her collection of short stories, The Indefinite State of Imaginary Morals. I can only describe her reading as analogous to carving a pumpkin: Sharpened words and phrases cut against the narrative under her guidance, not with the dexterity of a surgeon, but with the uncertain clarity of a woman who looks for love near sex. In the two stories she read, her characters dealt with their unenthusiastic one-nights with logic rather than emotion.

1. Ben Loory and Rae Bryant with interchangeable smiles. 2. Loory demonstrates how his ½ sweat-xedo allows him to read short fiction in a coach’s voice without making anyone feel uncomfortable. 3. Hobie, who looks exactly like his Facebook picture, is Facebook friends with both writers.

Portland residents are wise to reinvent themselves for winter darkness. We can gain strength for this task by reading Loory’s Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day.

Loory’s characters calmly confront the veneer of reality. To approximate this confrontation, hold your breath underwater and look up. The shiny surface of the water is where these stories live. In a departure from whichever stories he had planned, Loory decided to read “The Magic Pig” and “The Man and the Moose,” each for the first time in a reading.

1. Gabriel and Jessica produce sunny-side-up eyes in less than three tries. 2. Quenby Moone, Art Edwards, and Gloria Harrison all write for The Nervous Breakdown and came to support Loory and the Octopus.

Loory and Bryant know something you don’t. Each story was a blind date with their subconscious, without the limitations of drugs or Bruce Willis or Ringo Starr.

***

— Judith Ossello currently lives and writes in Portland, Oregon. Find her here.

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