Lessons Learned: Vol 1 Brooklyn 3-Minute Book Stories

1. Host Jason Diamond, “I’ve been wearing natural deodorant for the last few weeks.”

To name everyone who read at Vol. 1 Brooklyn’s Three-Minute tales on Tuesday night at Public Assembly will also take three minutes: Paula Bomer, Nick Moran, Rachel Fershleiser, Kathleen Alcott, Jacob Silverman, Elissa Schappell, Karolina Waclawiak, Matt Dojny, Christopher Beha, Maris Kreizman, and Dan Wilbur.

Our host Jason Diamond reminded us why were gathered in the dark, “Welcome to the Rosh Hashanah after party! We’ll dip apples in honey later. Seriously, though, thanks for braving the tropical storm/rain/thingamabobber.” Brave the thingamabobber we did.

First lesson of the evening was that giving birth is not actually the same thing as writing a book. With a book, the body is less likely to transform. No one will grin and rub your belly. Plus, there’s the matter of the baby, which you don’t have. But you do have the “postpartum depression when you’re like, what do I do?” Paula Bomer told us. “Except when you give birth you have a bunch of shit to do.”

1. Cartoon depiction of Nick Moran reading “Very Loose Thoughts on How Changes in Book Production Portend Changes in the English Language.” 2. Christine Vines of Fiction Addiction and Chloe McConnell of the New Yorker look heavenward.

Lesson Two: Publishing industry hopefuls might want to look into production — “It’s the only paying job I ever had in publishing,” Nick Moran said. Because much of book production is outsourced to India, it’s also where he became aware of the Indian-English email sign off, “Warmed regards.” Moran’s interpretation, “Get some fresh regards. The longer you wait, the colder they’ll be!”

Rachel Fershleiser got into book production as a teenager, when she cut out the ending to Judy Blume’s Forever and rewrote it as “Happily Ever After” for her first boyfriend. He was happy. She was happy. Two weeks later, they broke up. (Lesson Three: Book production has consequences.)

1. “This is the first time I’ve read off my phone. It feels kind of sad,” Kathleen Alcott in black on black. 2. “Penis like a corkscrew. Like pigs. It’s true. I know my animal penises,” Elissa Schappell. 3. Rachel Fershleiser in Red: when mom says your first boyfriend is “too conventional.”

It was Memory! Alone in the Moonlight for Kathleen Alcott, who reminisced about the days of yore, or rather the night before in the exact same locale, “when every editor in New York was dropping it like it’s hot” for the Brooklyn Book Festival opening night party. Lesson Six: Editors dance.

What if government censors kept secret files of “Banned Works That Might One Day Under a Different Regime Be Published”? Jacob Silverman considered the impact of a fictional traitor on (fictional) literary history. This led to Lesson Seven: Run from gun-wielding revolutionaries, secret file or no.

Jason Diamond jumped into remind us that Kingsley Amis was dead. “Long dead. Well, dead long enough.” Later on, Diamond reminded us that George Plimpton was dead while Nicole Richie was not. Lesson Eight: Jason Diamond has his finger on the pulse.

“I was never more knowledgeable about men than when I was thirteen,” Elissa Schappell began — if all men were Fabio. After reading bodice-rippers galore, Schappell happened upon Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying, whose sex scenes had her wondering, “Where were the violins and the crashing waves?” Lesson Nine: Romance novels are not nonfiction.

1. Maris Kreizman is the godmother of Jason Diamond’s dog, 2. Dan Wilbur on bed bug removal, “It’s like a Harold Pinter play.” 3. “I’m easy like Sunday morning,” Matt Dojny.

What do writers yearn to hear from their mothers? “I know it’s fiction, but I guess if you want everyone to think you’re some kind of LA slut, that’s okay. Also, you handled the rape with grace.” Count your lucky stars, Karolina Waclawiak. Lesson Ten: ???

Folks, there once was a time when Matt Dojny wanted to give up on his manuscript. But harken! What’s that? A homeless man singing Lionel Richie on the subway? The same exact song Dojny had written into his manuscript, the exact same song he was reading at that moment?! Hello, inspiration! Hello, book deal! Lesson Eleven: Harken!

If your book gets published in South Korea, it might have beauteous line drawings instead of photos. If you’re Chris Beha, one of those drawings might be of that time you were in a sperm bank at the top of the Empire State building. If you’re the illustrator, that image might be of “a boy trying to catch sperm with a giant butterfly net while the sperm were floating above him.” Lesson Twelve: Get your book published in South Korea.

How can literature save your life? When a drunk man approached Maris Kreizman in a bar, she introduced herself, “I’m Lorrie. Lorrie Moore.” Conversation over. Lesson Thirteen: If literature can’t save you, Lorrie Moore can.

Finally, it was Dan Wilbur reminding us, “Your priorities change when your dick’s fucked up,” i.e. when it has been bitten by a bed bug. Lesson Fourteen: Bed bugs bite indiscriminately.

Want more Vol. 1 Brooklyn in your life? Then come on down to the writings of long-enough dead Kingsley Amis at Housing Works on October 11th.


— Erika Anderson teaches at Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop, contributes to Hunger Mountain, and tweets for the Franklin Park Reading Series. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives in Brooklyn.

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