One Year of Fiction Addiction… and Lots and Lots of Whiskey!
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1. Dudes, I really like chalk signs! 2. Ryan Britt, really serious about trying to get people to publish his story. 3. Chloe McConnell, who works at the New Yorker in the production department, and is Vines’ roommate!
Ave. A, between 1st and 6th streets, is a dangerous place for me. Its amenities seem ominously situated solely for me to go broke. At 2nd, I hit my bank, head to Mast Books, then to A-1 Records and, depending on the time, the only place you can listen to Rancid and Sublime and Radiohead, the venerable Cherry Tavern. On Tuesday night, however, I skipped the Tavern and made my way down to 2A, which is home to Fiction Addiction, the excellent and always good-looking reading series hosted by Christine Vines. Last night Vines celebrated one year of whiskey and a really bad fiction habit with tiny cupcakes from Baked by Melissa, $4 whiskey specials, and readings from Ryan Britt, Shelly Oria, Mike Albo, and Ben Greenman. Oh, and the new and fucking awesome journal The Coffin Factory was there giving away copies of Issue One, and selling Issue Two for five bucks. You’re bummed you missed it.
1. Kristina Schwartz, copywriter at CDM Advertising with Logan Betsch, an art director there, and Estephania Faduar, Theatre Director at Pleiadus Productions. 2. Christine Vines, hustlin’ and hostin’.
Though it’s not even a toddler, Fiction Addiction has hosted an impressive cast of authors, including Edmund White, Elissa Schappell, Justin Taylor, Adam Wilson, Seth Fried and a bunch of other equally awesome people. Since last night’s “theme” was a birthday, the vibe in the room was celebratory and warm and it seemed that FA’s been around for much longer than a year. Already, it stands shoulder-to-shoulder with other excellent NYC series like Franklin Park and Mixer. Vines hustles and always delivers.
Ryan Britt kicked off the night, announcing that if anyone wanted to publish his story, they should find him afterwards. “And I’m cheap.” Britt’s story married the literary and fantasy genres together through Ellen, a writer who has a story published in Harper’s just before her first date in two years with Charles, another writer. While the two chat about fiction uncomfortably, all Ellen wants is recognition for her sweater. “Ellen looked for the sweater compliment. Look at the sweater … It had horizontal stripes. And her tits looked awesome.” Britt’s reading jumped in time, and we find the two meeting again in Ellen’s dream. “Greetings, human writer,” an alien says. The two are selected for a human arts colony for study and, to Ellen’s dismay, mating. I once had an instructor tell an 18-year-old me to avoid writing stories about writers, though Britt’s device of using the fantasy genre within Ellen’s dream was a delightful and enjoyable lens into the neuroses of most fiction writers, myself included. “Did you hear them? … They said ‘most representative,’ not best.” “I have to admit,” Charles replies, “this is the most recognition for my writing I’ve ever had.” Ellen’s neurosis is less about being a writer than it is about being one’s own worst bully and critic, the irrational nagging voice in your head that continually says “You suck.” Unfortunately/fortunately, this doesn’t apply only to writers. Remember this guy?
1. Shelly Oria: “We turned 30 together, four years apart. 2. Ben Greenman, Stephen Colbert, a whip.
Next up was Shelly Oria, who read three short-shorts. Oria’s pieces skated between prose poem and full narrative fiction, with heavy emphasis on the rhythm and sequence of sentence. Her first piece jabbed at our current cultural obsessions, like organic foods and text messages. Lines like “You said the organic pears were too raw” and “I texted a question to 8 people and no one responded … You said ‘mass texts hurt people’” felt real and sincere in Oria’s somber delivery. What I really loved was this unabashed, sincere sentimentality, a tone I rarely encounter in fiction. In “That Night”: “Our smiles were the texture of ice cream, which is to say we could be cold and still perceived as sweet.” Oria proves that yes, you can be sentimental and not over-romanticize your characters and their story. My favorite line, from her final piece “Wait”: “In love, a lie makes a space for the truth to come in.” Seems like Oria goes to her desk and says, “Just do it.” I back that.
After the break, Mike Albo read a nostalgic story that sums up many twenty-somethings’ existence: “I assumed and judged, that’s what I did. I was 28.” Albo’s narrator was infatuated with Johnny, who had a boyfriend, and made several bad decisions while on a “two month buzz.” Like following him to Italy and establishing some massive credit card debt in the process. While they also stole flirtatious grazes and glances around NYC’s gay club/bar scene, including some bar named “Grdn — I guess vowels aren’t cool?” the magic of Albo’s narrator quickly soured. “I took that X pill and it lasted two years. I was crazy mad delirious for Johnny.” Albo’s tale was a bittersweet piece of nostalgia, and made us laugh along the way.
1. Liz Fausak, an Audio Engineer at Postworks, with Katie Perry, fiction writer and pop singer doppelganger. 2. Mike Albo, who wondered if he was, indeed, working on a “gay love story?”
Ben Greenman closed out the night with two pieces. The first was dedicated to none other than Rick Santorum, whose argument for gay marriage is “If two men marry, that means three men will be able to marry.” Um — what? So, Greenman’s story followed a couple who, after getting married in city hall, decided to marry another. And another. And another. “Tim looked in my eyes, and I looked at him, and we knew. We had to marry a third guy.” Soon they found themselves married to ten dudes, and Tim confesses he’s forgotten the narrator’s birthday. He said it was just so hard to keep track of all the other husbands. “It’s not that big of a deal,” he said. “That’s not what marriage is about.” Greenman closed out the night with a reading from his very funny book, Celebrity Chekhov. Greenman read from the galley version of “A Classical Student,” in which Lindsay Lohan stars as Ivan Velikopolsky. Lohan returns from failing an audition and her mother is pissed. Suddenly, Stephen Colbert is called into the room to punish Lohan. Cringing hilarity ensued, and the night ended with that image floating in all of our heads.
Happy birthday and an Internet high-five to Christine Vines on one year of Fiction Addiction, and hopefully lots and lots more. Check the website for information on next month’s line-up.
–Ryan Chang is from Orange County, CA and lives in Brooklyn. He is the Staff Writer to The Outlet, and his fiction and essays have appeared in Art Faccia and Thought Catalog. He is in the internet here and here.