Lit 19 Launch Party

1. Anshul Mathur (right), founder of a Pandora-for-books start up, and friends Lawrence and Abid. 2. Best button ever.

LIT threw a nice little release party last night at the Housing Works Bookstore Café in Soho. The magazine — property of The New School MFA program — is now nineteen issues strong and chock full of good stuff from more than two dozen writers. When I showed up to Housing Works, a pleasantly sized crowd was mingling. (Re. the pleasant size: if you haven’t been there, there is something new to knock over every time you take a step or think about turning around, so LIT, thanks for putting the right number of people in such a frightening space.) An unusual feeling augmented the usual lit scene bonhomie in the room. I speak [touching all wood surfaces in reach] of warmth: the front door was open and inside it was downright toasty and not because of baseboard heating. Forgot that feeling existed, right? Me too, but winter is finally releasing its maniacal grip on NYC. About. Damn. Time.

1. Brand new Co-Editor in Chief Ben Mirov and brand new Prose Editor Christian Ochoa. 2. Curtis Jensen has a PBR and he’s not afraid to use it.

Eventually there was a lull in the giddy chat about the weather and LIT staff took the opportunity to make some intro remarks, announce some staff changes, and remind everyone to keep drinking because beer drunk in Housing Works helps people living with AIDS (via some intermediary steps). Four readers — Mark Dow, Josh Bell, Lindsay Tigue, and Curtis Jensen treated us to selections both from and not from the issue. Bell’s very funny prose poem “Josh II: The Return of Josh,” part of the “from” category, is reason enough to pick up a copy.

1. Jed Bickman, Mark Gurarie, Kevin Shea a.k.a. Cento Richard, Daniel Stein a.k.a. C.T. Swangin, and David Gibbs. I asked them to provide their name or names and they took the instruction very seriously. 2. Lindsay Tigue.

Most of the crowd had some kind of New School affiliation: lots of MFAs, some other-program students, some readers who reported the LIT slush pile is indeed slushy, maybe a few all of the above. I only encountered one group of outsiders, led by Anshul Mathur, creator of The Literary Genome Project, or as he calls it, “Pandora for books.” He’s a recent transplant from Chicago trying to feel out the New York lit scene. Across the room, new LIT Prose Editor Christian Ochoa admitted he may soon be on sabbatical from the scene, motivated by his recent acquisition of Wii-streamed Netflix. “Fuck the scene,” he said. “I just wanna watch Fellini.” Godspeed to you both, my friends.

After the readings, the party migrated to the perfectly divey Botanica Bar. Everyone damn near skipped out onto Crosby Street, into the still warm night, jackets gleefully flung over shoulders.

–Kai Twanmoh is a regular contributor to Electric Dish.

1. Mark Dow. 2. Outgoing LIT editors in chief Ben Kendrick and Jackie Clark.

1. Sonia loved the reading selections. Her friend did too, but the idea of being photographed not so much. 2. Housing Works staff meeting and greeting.

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