Steamboat and Stalking

1. Courtney Maum, author of Small Things in Big Places, & Louis Abelman, who works for The New York Times’ website. Both of them are clearly having a shitty time, and Abelman says that Choi is very funny on Twitter. 2. Writer Talia Mailman, reader Miles Klee, Columbia grad student Kaveh, & Jay.

I arrived at Greenlight Bookstore forty-five minutes before Steamboat was supposed to start. I didn’t do this because I like arriving to readings maaaaad early (I don’t), but because, although I kick a$$ at all the important things in life (lying, taking standardized tests, making out), I am hopeless at the small things in life (like writing down the correct time I am supposed to be somewhere). Fortunately, I was in a bookstore! And, omgz, I love books! So I got the chance to actually browse around Greenlight, and I must say, I now have a new appreciation for the store — which is out of the way, for me, and thusly I have only been there for readings, never for browsing. I am happy to say that Greenlight is the kind of store that I could get lost in — no over-eager salespeople, no annoying music, no crowds of people constantly bumping into me as I’m trying to page through a book (like in a certain Manhattan bookstore — *COUGH*The Strand *COUGH*). And when I did decide that I wanted guidance, the staff was what all good bookstore staff should be like: friendly and knowledgeable.

1. Eric & Jeff Rosenthal, who do hip-hop sketch comedy, & Brendan Frederick, who is the editor of Complex Magazine. They all love to laugh! And smile! And they’re friends of Choi and Greenman! WOW 2. Joanne Solomon, host Bob Powers, & Amanda Nelson, who is Powers’ wife. Both Solomon and Nelson are comedy writers.

Eventually, the store filled up, and host Bob Powers took the podium. He told us that the series, which is on the third Thursday of every month, needed a new, more descriptive tagline for the e-mails that went out to promote each month’s reading. He tested some out on us; the least popular seemed to be “Steamboat: The humor reading series that floats… on laughter!” (apparently the rest of the audience isn’t as appreciative of Dad Jokes as I am). He then read some thoughts that he’d recently had about how totally awesome winter is (and I mean “awesome” in the literal way), like how “adorable” the litter of kittens is that he passes daily on his way to the train. Daily because they’re not going anywhere, because they’re, you know, frozen.

Miles Klee was the first non-hosty “reader” — quotes because he wasn’t reading his writing to us; he was sharing some of the wealth of genius that The Good Lord has bestowed him with. Apparently Klee is just overflowing with ideas, so much so that he can’t possibly utilize all of them as a writer. And, since, according to Klee, most of the people in the audience were unsuccessful writers anyway, he decided to tell us about twelve different plot lines that he had thought up, which were all in the “Northern Gothic” genre (which he invented). Here is one sample plot line: One boy tricks another boy into doing his chores, then gets grounded. To hear the other eleven, please send Klee some money and I’m sure he’ll let you in on at least a sliver of his brilliance.

1. Reader Mary H.K. Choi, who told me that she is greedy because she wanted to be in the picture alone.

Mary H.K. Choi read two essays, the first of which was called “To the Left, To the Left. No, to the Right,” which is obviously a Beyonce reference, and is not at all a political title (duh). This essay was about Mr. Wan, her mover, who has seen her through something like nine moves in eight years — something that Choi is not proud of — and who is a man who probably “can’t picture [her] laughing or having clean hair.” Then we heard her essay about mens’ fashion, “All Dudes Learned How to Dress and it Sucks,” which I liked because it included the words “hella” and “sick” (“sick” as in “dope,” not “ill”), and described boot-cut jeans as the pants-of-choice for date rapists.

Ben Greenman read last, and apparently I have turned into a Ben Greenman stalker, because I had heard both of his selections (“Blurbs” and “Death of a Red-Headed Man”) before. If you want to know what I thought, go here or here)

If you want to hear Greenman’s writing that is neither “Blurbs” or “Death of a Red-Headed Man”, you should be like me and go to Housing Works tonight. I will be the girl in the audience collecting his dandruff.

–Julia Jackson is working on her MFA in fiction at Brooklyn College, and is a regular contributor for Electric Dish.

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