KGB Sunday Night: Gary Lutz and Robert Lopez

1. Lutz at the podium. 2. and 3. and 4. Lots of Lutz-ites in attendance: (2) John and Greg, both writers. (3) Round table of fans: (from l to r) Robin, Kristen, Sara Jane, Justin, and Elizabeth. (4) Polly and Micaela, MFA students at Sarah Lawrence.

Though competing with the three day weekend, the Jets game, the Golden Globes, and it being, oh, you know, twenty-eight degrees outside, the back room of KGB Bar was packed with eager listeners for the Sunday Night Fiction Reading featuring Gary Lutz and Robert Lopez, who was launching his new book, Asunder.

Lutz started off the night with an excerpt from a new piece, “Divorcer.” Lutz, for those not familiar, is a writer who specializes in verbal gymnastics, pyrotechnics on the sentence level. His story of a man and his five-week marriage had “unfinished looking men,” “graphically sad women,” “eyes that gave a fast, sour splash of regard,” neighbors with “all of youth still in their hair,” and “cookies rococo in their creations.” The couple, in their unraveling, speak “only in dialogue… lonelier than just talk.” Are you serious? The man is on fire!

Ultimately, we learn “you can’t generalize about divorce or get too specific about it either.” Which is actually a lot more informative than it sounds.

1. Jeff and Josh, both writers. Josh also works as “the help” at a “douche members-only club” and enjoys going to readings much more than working. 2 Sarah and Youssef said this was their very first ever reading in New York. Not a bad way to pop your cherry.

Robert Lopez is also a master craftsman of the sentence. In his first story, “In Alabama, Tuscaloosa,” a man with carpal tunnel syndrome is in so much pain it “hurts to shake hands,” and he has to “use plastic cups and straws like a little girl.” What a sad little world! The crowd laughed often, especially when Lopez read “One of My Daughters Are Called Resnick,” where the narrator focuses on the word “mustn’t” — pretty actresses can use it, but the narrator can only manage it in the sentence, “the bruised parts of a banana is poison — you mustn’t eat them.” People (which include drunk Indians and women who are more often spectral than vocal) speak senselessly to each other. You feel a sense of tunneling listening to Lopez read, like you’re going deeper into a place you’re afraid of but still want to be in. The human psyche? Relationships?? Indiana???

1. Gary Lutz “had a most enjoyable time reading” at KGB. 2. Robert Lopez hopes everyone likes his book. Columbia MFA student Hannah bought a copy.

Lopez stopped his reading to ask if anyone knew if the Jets won. It was silent for about a minute until a woman shouted back, “Yeah, I think so.” No one else seemed to care.

–Emily Firetog is working towards an MFA at Columbia.

1. KGB Fiction Curator Suzanne Dottino with professors Ken and Doug from St. Paul. They didn’t come to New York specifically for the reading, but it was a “terrific coincidence.” 2. Alex Kleeman, who is published in the Winter Issue of The Paris Review, with Benjamin Hale, whose debut novel The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore is out now. Alex says, (in finger-quotes) “Going to a Gary Lutz reading is like getting dramatically drunk. My sentences won’t be walking straight for days.” Zing!

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