The Dungeon of Fiction
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1. Artist Andrew Bulger & reader James Yeh. The duo collaborated on a chapbook entitled “Rejection From Prominent Cultural Magazine and Other Stories,” which I highly suggest you check out because it is simultaneously a) adorable b) awesome and c) sneakily haunting. Excerpt here. 2. Writer Lynne Tillman & reader Abdellah Taïa.
Yesterday was gorgeous — flowers blooming, new green growth on trees, clear sunshine — so I took the opportunity to head over to Cake Shop to hang out in their dark, dark basement for The Enclave Reading Series.
1. Cockroach killer and non-wussy writer Nikita Nelin, who recently won both the Sean O’Faolain Award and the Summer Literary Seminars Easter European Roots Creative Non-Fiction Contest. 2. Hedi El Khohi, writer and co-curator of Brooklyn is Burning, Sarvia Jasso, Kathryn Garcia, & Mary Margaret Rinebold, enjoying being out of the disgusting sunshine.
James Yeh, who was recently selected as a 2011 Center for Fiction Fellow, was the first reader. He read us three short pieces with long, conversational titles (“I Did Not Want to Be Wrong and I Did Not Want to Be Embarrassed,” “I Am, I Admit, at Times Like This”) that will most likely become a part of his novel-in-progress that has a long, conversational title (I Love and Understand You and Would Be Perfect for You Now).
1. The Enclave Reading Series co-curator and the emcee for the evening, Jason Napoli Brooks.
Fiona Maazel read an excerpt from her forthcoming novel Woke Up Lonely (which prompted emcee Jason Napoli Brooks to say “Awww, Fiona”), an excerpt which she promised would contain a sex scene. Before she could deliver on this promise, the crowd began to act agitated. “Oh my god, there’s a HUGE cockroach crawling toward me!” Maazel said. “This is the coolest thing to ever happen to me at a reading.” “Kill it!” the crowd ordered. No one stepped forward. “That’s right,” Maazel said. “We’re all a bunch of sissy writers.” But then out of the crowd stepped a writer who defied this characteristic: the brave, Soviet-born Nikita Nelin. He and the bartender (about 5 feet tall, maybe 100 lbs, female, had hopped over the bar) smashed the shit out of that cockroach. The Enclave photographer snapped pictures. Napoli Brooks declared that the cockroach died for art. The bartender picked up the smashed cockroach with a paper towel and threw it in the trash. Crisis over. Back to the sex, which featured a linguist deciphering North Korean speech via cassette tape, and then an orgy that included fifteen different orifices. (Author note: Maazel is my workshop professor. I’m pretty sure that an MFA is one of the few degree programs that enable one to hear their professors saying things like, “with cum dripping out of my ass.”)
Abdellah Taïa was the last reader. He pointed out a link between himself and the other two readers: Fiona won the Bard prize in 2009. Taïa taught at Bard for a few months in 2004. While there, one of his students had a crush on him. That student looked like James Yeh. “I’m really happy that we are all reunited,” Taïa said. He apologized for his poor pronunciation of English (Taïa is Moroccan-born and speaks French) and then read us a short story entitled “Olaf,” which, among other things, talked about how the lover of the protagonist had “the butt of a young child.”
Who knew that cockroaches and orgies make such a great alternative to spending time outside on a gorgeous day?
–Julia Jackson is working on her MFA in fiction at Brooklyn College, and is a regular contributor for Electric Dish.