In Soviet Russia, Phone Have Sex on You

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1. The Madonnas of Echo Park author Brando Skyhorse and James Langlois admiring Juliet Grames, senior editor at Soho Press and the only reader to commie it up for KGB. 2. James Langlois opening the night with the tale of a young man trying to get to the bottom of his twin’s suicide. “Don’t worry. It’s funnier than it sounds.”

All seats were taken at KGB Bar Tuesday night and standing room was limited, as we literary types stood shoulder to shoulder, pushing closer to the front to get a look at the night’s three readers.

James Langlois kicked off the event with an excerpt from his novel-in-progress, a beautifully-written story of identical Dominican-American twins and the search for answers after one of them dies. There was laughter, as promised, but the depth of feeling and the mastery of prose made this story genuinely captivating.

This level of talent was matched by the next two readers. There was laughter and much scratching during Juliet Grames’ all-too-realistic story about bedbugs and relationship issues. How much more New York can it get? Her first time in front of the microphone as a featured reader, Grames showed us how it was done, and was followed by a troupe of admirers from the time she left the podium. Successful first reading? I’d say so.

Finally, Brando Skyhorse read from his forthcoming memoir, tentatively titled Things My Fathers Taught Me. Reading a chapter that focused not on any of his five stepfathers, but rather on his mother, Brando recalled his mother’s days as a phone sex operator and the ways the two of them worked together, mother and young son, to make sound effects and distort reality for strange men sitting at home with their “pants around their ankles.” A twisted story that should have been difficult to listen to, this final piece ended up getting the most laughs of the night.

When the reading was over, the readers and audience lingered in the red light of KGB. Not bad for a school night. There was still almost nowhere to sit, but people mingled sitting or standing, and the readers were all available for comment or conversation. “There should be more readings like this one,” I heard one audience member say. Actually, that was me. I said that. And it’s true.

–Alicia Adams is an Angeleno living in Brooklyn. She earned her MFA at CSU Long Beach.

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