SpeedRead: Adam Wilson’s Flatscreen Continues, Coupled with The Speed Chronicles

1. KGB patrons enjoying a nice beer in a red setting 2. Novelist Donald Antrim, Adam Wilson, and Adam’s beloved girlfriend Sarah Rapp.

KGB Bar, cool as it is, certainly has more than a touch of the dark about it. A strict red and black color scheme dominates the little bar, punctuated by posters proclaiming “Homeland! Mother Russia!” and “Glory to the Soviet Soldiers!” etc.

So it was interesting indeed to plumb the depths of America’s inner darkness in such a setting. The subject? Drugs. Speed, speed, and coke. (The last one there to change it up a little.)

1. Rose Bunch (RoseBunch.com); everyone should be so lucky as to hear her say “coon” over and over again. 2. Beth Lisick (BethLisick.com); a natural performer.

Joseph Mattson, editor of The Speed Chronicles, introduced the readings with a taste of the diversity of experience to be presented on “the most misunderstood drug in the land.” The “sparkling ebullience and potential wretchedness” would follow.

The dark and crowded room was rapt as contributor Rose Bunch began her speed story. It was a thing of beauty to hear her describe the teenage neighbor, Butterball, take a piss in the direction of the narrator’s house, and then give her a look. She wove a tale of old poor hill America — unraveling, unpaved, and stewing in cooked meth — jutting up against the opposing sensibilities of rural suburbia as the two live side by side.

Next we moved on to contributor Beth Lisick’s speedy, speedy monologue of the upper-middle-class mom preparing her party and thinking and talking and — take a breath! relax! don’t go down the hole! Lisick utterly embodied her character for the performance: excited, frenetic, and constantly fearing the inevitable crash — the Adderall seemed brought to life before our very eyes!

Adam Wilson wrapped up the evening with a reading from Flatscreen (you can read The Outlet’s interview with him here). It delved into a much-needed exploration of the arc of the addict. Eli, our antihero, must face a mother-figure of years past; and he must try to get the best price he can get from her for his baseball cards — because coke doesn’t buy itself.

It was nice to take a turn toward the sentimental and beautiful with “she loved the part of me I worried was gone.” And then of course, nice to follow our antihero to the home of an Orson Welles-ish old macher for blowjobs and a whole lotta high — all the while sitting, as we-the-audience were, in a dim paint-peeling room that would have served well as a shooting location for Voldemort’s layer.

Altogether it was a dark, beautiful, and funny little set. The only thing is could possibly have lacked is the West Coast flavor editor Joseph Mattson described:

“When we did readings on the West Coast, people would come up to me afterwards to give me speed.”

When art meets life and life comes back to meet art.

***

— Emma Rock is a Brooklynite writer, student, and comedian. Her work has previously appeared scribbled on subway ads and bathroom stalls. You can see her in Brooklyn College’s production of The Vagina Monologues — this week: 3/22 and 3/23 at 6:30pm.

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