1. Contributor Alexandra Kleeman and first-year MFA Kimberly Wang. 2. Party room.
Apparently The Paris Review winter issue release party started at 7, but when I turned up almost on time, the place was pretty empty. Of the few people that had assembled, I was one of three who didn’t already belong to a tight circle of animated chat. The other two were Kimberly, whose friends had yet to arrive, and a nice bartender who happened to also be a Paris Review reader and told me that every bit of their slush pile gets minimum two full reads by rule. Classy, those Parisians.
1. FSG’s Gena Hamshaw & Rose Lichter-Marck and friend. 2. Graham Roberts from the New York Times and his girlfriend, who are both so much better looking when better lit.
My fingertips had barely finished defrosting (New York weather gods, please cease and desist your recent single-digit-temps evil) when I looked up to find the room was suddenly full. Most of the FSG office had come out to play and regaled me with stories from headquarters. If you find yourself in their neighborhood, apparently the staff holiday baked goods selection this year is not disappointing (except to vegan staffer Gena). A charming guy introduced himself as Uzo, as in Uzo Iweala, already published in The Paris Review, already graduated from Harvard, already decorated novelist, already in medical school because what he really wants to do is save children’s lives Uzo Iweala. The man is about to become a doctor and he still has lovely handwriting. It’s a Christmas miracle.
1. MFA PARTY PEOPLE. 2. Uzo Iweala, Jesse Coleman from FSG, and Mark Krotov, also from FSG.
Kim’s friend turned out to be the beautiful Alex Kleeman, making her fiction debut in the winter issue with the short story “Fairy Tale.” She knocked my wooly socks off by being reciprocally excited to see me — “You’re from Electric Lit?” she said. “I read that blog all the time! It’s one of the three blogs that are really worth reading.” [Editor’s note: aw shucks]
It couldn’t get much better after that. I headed out not long before the official end time and the party was still roaring. Everyone had a drink in hand but no one had had too many. As far as I could tell, there would be no reading from the winter issue, no formal announcements, no program of any kind. But it was a damn fine party, and isn’t that what the holiday season is really all about?
–Kai Twanmoh lives too close to the Rockefeller Center tree for comfort and is a regular contributor to Electric Dish.