1. Justine Blau, Elissa Bassist, & Marie Myung-Ok Lee. 2. Diana Spechler & Jami Attenberg.
Rumpus women know how to pack a room even in below-zero windchills. Opening last night’s reading, Elissa Bassist, who co-edited Rumpus Women, Volume I with Julie Greicius, explained that the collection came together in about 3 weeks. Bassist & Greicius made a list of favorite women writers, and lucky for them, all the picks have contributed. Seven contributors read last night, but the reading didn’t feel long, maybe because each writer was so incredibly honest and forthcoming about life, as Bassist characterized it midway through the reading.
You should really get the collection. To inspire you, a brief round-up of last night’s work. Elissa Bassist, who also MCd the evening, read first from a guide to moving to San Francisco, so that “others can make the same mistake, titled “The Power of Negative Thinking” (title suggested by Stephen Elliott). Justine Blau read about her “chronically homeless” childhood family experiences. Nell Boeschenstein’s essay dealt with her familial predisposition for the “breast cancer gene” (the joke to look forward to in context: a man always travels with a bomb on an airplane, since the chances of two bombs are quite low). Jami Attenberg recounted her trip to Italy (“Italy makes you want to smoke like nowhere except for maybe the Carolinas”) after she had recovered from a broken ankle, but not quite from a terrible break-up. Diana Spechler’s essay (or “story” if you’re a cop) dealt with 19 year olds, cocaine, and Boulder. Marie Myung-Ok Lee shared her experience of receiving a “Welcome to Holland” poem from the doctors when she had learned of her child’s disability, “like when you’re on a plane to Italy, but you end up in Holland,” is the idea of the poem, and “Fuck That,” the response this poem elicited from the women in her support group. Finally, Michelle Orange shared “Recommencement,” a reflection on her father’s retirement from his long life as an English professor.
Early in the night, Bassist mentioned that it was pretty nice to see an internet website publish a book, undoing demises, etc. — experiencing this community of women in a non-internet space was equally inspiring.
Anna Prushinskaya edits The Outlet.