Happy Birthday, Vol. 1
1. Tobias Carroll is the Managing Editor of Vol. 1 and one of Time Out New York’s most eligible singles. Jason Diamond is Vol 1’s founding editor, and a mensch. 2. Authors and readers Maud Newton, Deb Olin Unferth and Jami Attenberg gamely pose for a photo.
Jason Diamond, author/editor/internet dude and founder of Vol. 1 emceed the festivities, which included a reading and a raffle to benefit Girls Write Now, a mentoring program for young women writers.
By coincidence or design, the night’s authors were also all women. The excerpts they read plumbed their childhood, driving home the point that the girls writing now may well be the women publishing later. Each of the scenes centered on a moment when the line between girl and woman blurred, reminders that while the past is prologue, it can also become prose.
1. Lilit Marcus and Erik Trinidad are writers. Temim Fruchter is a drummer. 2. Things you could have won at the charity raffle.
The sleepover: Maud Newton read from an upcoming novel that she has been working on “forever,” set in the 80s in her native Florida. Unbeknownst to the conservative lawyer dad, a prostitute is living under his roof. Newton captures the acute sensory awareness that comes with proximity to strange bodies as the teenage character gawks at her new, sleeping roommate’s tits, then noting her breath as smelling of “metal, rubbing alcohol and envelope glue…accelerating into a wheezy snore.”
The shaming: Alina Simone read from her book of essays You Must Go and Win. She described getting an email form a journalist from her Ukrainian hometown, written in “dialect best described as google translate on acid.” Even so, his question: “Do you have any zoons?” sends the successful singer/artist/adult inspires panic — should she know what a zoon is?! — proving some brands of adolescent anxiety do not die.
The love-driven journey: Deb Olin Unferth followed with a piece from her memoir Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War. It is a familiar narrative — girl finds love, follows boy — but Unferth went the distance, following him all the way to the Nicaraguan revolution. Though several decades on, one could imagine the 18-year-old Unferth carting thousands of devalued cordobas to buy bread as infatuation thinned for the man who “would not be mad at people who robbed us. This was a rule.”
The good date: Jami Attenberg read last, from her upcoming novel The Middlesteins, which Diamond described as “the next great Jewish novel.” Set in Chicago in the 70s, this had our girl a few years older — in law school, and grappling with her father’s impending death. Nevertheless, when a man asks her for pizza, she says yes, despite wondering how the hell she can think of pizza at a time like this. (Later, it seems, eating becomes the main event in her life, and such questions become moot). The date adjourns to the hospital room, her bedridden father laughing at her date’s jokes, a meet-the-parents moment that is unexpected and tender enough to end in marriage. She’ll remember that day ten years on, when celebrating her wedding anniversary in a suburban steakhouse.
1. Jacob Sloan scored a tote+books from Melville House. Mara Sloan and Madeline Yoon were pumped. 2. Therese Cox and Elaine Stuart-Shah are mentors for Girls Write Now.
After the reading, wine-swilling adults became screaming, jubilant winners of small-press literature, obscure CDs and gift certificates, jumping and tossing up celebratory fists as Diamond called out numbers from pink raffle tickets.
Sarah Gentile, a writer and archivist at the Brooklyn Museum, was on fire. One round after the next, she went to collect her winnings, including the grand prize — brunch for ten at Russ and Daughters. Basking in the glow, she reached in to her bag and started rooting around. “Where do I give the donations?” she said, grinning. “I’m going to give them all my money.”
You can too. Donate to Girls Write Now here.
–Lisa Riordan Seville is a writer and reporter in Brooklyn.