Heliopolis

1. J Grabowski, who helps run Heliopolis. 2. Reader Anne-E. Wood & fan Laura.

Heliopolis is an artists’ space in Greenpoint that operates out of a tiny storefront off Manhattan Ave. I was weary as I entered the room — everyone was young and hip and seemed to know each other. I’ve been to readings like this before, I thought, DIY-style readings held among friends, where people read work that is high on irony but low on substance. But the people I talked to were friendly and engaging, so I decided to go with it anyway. Plus, there was a painting on the wall that looked suspiciously like the female version of Goatse.

1. A wall in Heliopolis, dedicated to books that have been left there by past readers. 2. Reader Jason Daniel Schwartz & emcee T. Kira Madden, who is working on her MFA in fiction writing at Sarah Lawrence.

T. Kira Madden was the emcee for the evening, and she introduced the first reader, Jason Daniel Schwartz, by saying that she had had a friend in school whose thesis was on hipster culture in Brooklyn and who wanted to put Schwartz in it because Schwartz was a “real hipster writer.” When Madden heard him read back then, she was disappointed because she liked his writing so much. Schwartz was eventually dropped from the thesis, and soon Madden was “begging” for him to be her friend. Well, I was impressed by Schwartz’s writing as Madden was. His prose was hypnotic and surreal in the best way, and completely devoid of irony and/or snark.

Anne-E. Wood was next, a writer who is all “hearts and daggers,” according to Madden. She read a story about an eighty-year-old blind guy who stumbles around his empty (of children and a spouse) apartment. The writing was in parts sharply funny and emotionally devastating, and featured great one-liners like “Only idiots read magazines, everyone knows that,” and “You cannot be named Priscilla and be happy in adulthood.”

1. Reader Evan Rehill, acting all writerly and shit. 2. Reader Leigh Gallagher, student Bennett, & Soumeya, who works in the publishing industry.

Leigh Gallagher read third, sharing the opening of a story entitled “Elizabeth Franzac,” which is about a teenage girl called Ejizzabeth Fucksack by the boys at school. We took a trip with Ms. Franzac/Fucksack to the gynecologist at the free clinic, and heard about vaginal scrapings, discharge, chancres on labias, and other really delicious stuff.

Evan Rehill was the final reader of the evening. It was his birthday, and he said that this reading was a wonderful present for him. His writing focused on a woman and daughter and involved lots of smoking. The writing was smooth and sensual and thoroughly enjoyable.

So what I’m trying to say here is this: the reading was awesome, and totally not what I thought it would be. Go Greenpoint!

–Julia Jackson is working on her MFA in fiction at Brooklyn College, and is a regular contributor for Electric Dish.

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