MONSTERS at Franklin Park

1. Ryan Britt, looking every bit the Brooklyn-based writer. 2. Lev Grossman reading a not-often orated passage from The Magicians.

“If you don’t think this is the best reading series in Brooklyn and in New York, you’re wrong,” began Ryan Britt, one of five readers at the Franklin Park Reading Series’ December installment this past Monday. Perhaps Britt was a bit overexcited to be reading for his second time at the well-regarded event, but he has a point — this past Monday alone featured the so-hot-you-can’t-miss-him Lev Grossman (The Magicians, The Magician King) and the newest nebbish hero of the literary scene, William Giraldi, whose debut novel, Busy Monsters, has garnered more attention than the seemingly-shy author likely knows what to do with.

The theme was monsters, fittingly enough, and the night began, as it always must, a half an hour late. It was either the discounted drinks, the warmth of the Crown Heights enclave or the quality work at hand that created an attentive and overly-enthusiastic crowd. First to perform (and perform she did) was poet, mother, and all-around badass female Montana Ray, whose powerful name somehow still is not enough to prepare anyone for the resonance of lines like, “You wear coffee stains, sluttily” and “Reading Being and Nothingness did nothing to save me from being the woman on your couch waiting for Isaac Hayes to come out from your wall and hug me.” Her protest poetry, released by Dancing Girl Press, is written in the shape of a gun.

1. Penina Roth, mother, host, and curator of the lauded reading series, looking amazing for someone who probably doesn’t get much sleep. 2. William Giraldi, feeling it.

Britt was next up, sharing a witty sea monster story with a practiced reader’s great cadence, gestures, and lines like, “the kind of girl who never knew what to do with her arms in photographs.” (His work can be found here.)

The nights masterful imagery was continued with reader Nelly Reifler’s story for Underwater New York, in which she drew from Formica advertisements from the ’50s and ’60s to weave a satirical and clever tale about the reintroduction of “mother” into the home.

Giraldi and Grossman, listening in.

So, what can one say about the already-so-admired authors who rounded out the night that hasn’t already been said? It is worth noting how Giraldi’s whole body is utilized when he reads; and how down-to-earth Grossman seems, but not in a crafted way. But really, I can only say this — you should have been there.

See Through: Stories

by Nelly Reifler

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Busy Monsters

by William Giraldi

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The Magician King

by Lev Grossman

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–-Sarah Lerner is a freelance event coordinator for the L Magazine. She contributes art and film reviews to Time Out New York.

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