Missed Connections at Franklin Park

1. Reader Joshua Cohen; Amanda Bullock, the Events Coordinator at Housing Works; & Justin Taylor, a Franklin Park alum and the author of The Gospel of Anarchy. Did we mention that Cohen’s book, Witz, is practically bullet-proof? 2. The crowd at the bar, right before the reading began.

Last night was “Missed Connections” night at the Franklin Park Reading Series in Crown Heights. I wish that I could tell you that I, in conjunction with the theme of the night, waited alone for half an hour beforehand for a friend while she sent text messages to a phone that I had forgotten at home, but that was last month. This month, I walked into the bar and immediately saw the person I planned on meeting.

1. Reader Amy Benfer, doing her thang. 2. Jamie E. Reich (R), the intern for the reading series as well as the Fiction Editor at Art Faccia; & Reich’s beautiful girlfriend, Liz Feskoe (L), who is a Development Associate at The Doe Fund.

Robert Tumas opened the night up, and he dedicated his reading to his “beautiful wife,” which elicited “awwws” from the audience. Entitled “I Must Have Missed Them,” the piece was about missing keys from a keyboard (which I can relate to due to the recent disappearance of the V key on this very keyboard). Also included in his short fiction: heavy drinking, the terrorizing of Crown Heights, and the line “I am the brownest shit around.”

Amy Benfer was the second reader for the evening, and she told us that she had gone to her 20th high school reunion two weeks ago. But the piece that she shared was not about this — instead, it was about her other high school, the one that didn’t have formal reunions. This was a boarding school in Idaho for pregnant teens, and we heard about the kind of expectations that are created for girls that attend such a school. As well as about a box of rained-on dildos, otherwise known as “slippery dicks.”

1. Poet Melissa Broder, who came to the reading especially to hear Michael Kimball. 2. Writer and Franklin Park alum Shelly Oria, who is also a host and curator of SWEET: Actors Reading Writers; & writer Robert Lopez, both showing me their “SERIOUS FACES.” 3. Michael Kimball, kicking ass at the mic.

After the break, Michael Kimball (who is sometimes known as Andy Devine) read from the beginning of his book, Us. In it, we heard about the basic functions that one’s brain operates on immediately following crisis. His writing managed to be both heart-breaking and filled with nail-biting suspense, leaving me wanting to read the rest of the book. Excellent job.

Joshua Cohen was the closer, and he read a section from A Heaven of Others entitled “Shoes.” The section was “written like a shoelace,” he explained, meaning that it began at the ending and overlapped. While clearly not straightforward, his writing was precise and intriguing.

Penina Roth, the host of the series, told us a bit about what we can expect from next month’s installment: more humor. We also learned that Michael Showalter is reading, as well as my former classmate at Brooklyn College, Eliza Snelling. You’ll definitely see me there!

***

— Julia Jackson is the editor for Electric Dish, as well as a waitress, teacher, and fiction writer. She has very little free time.

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