The Wold Newton Reading Extravaganza

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1. Elizabeth & John, who writes fiction. 2. The band: John Pinamont & the Atomic Nevada Two.

The Wold Newton Reading Extravaganza is a monthly reading series held at Word in Greenpoint. According to their website, it is part reading series, part carnival. I expect shiny things at carnivals, like glitter and beads, and sadly there were neither of these at the reading last night. But there was a band! The band played a couple songs before the reading, and one of these was about Michael Jackson, and the rest were mostly comprised of Beatles’ song titles.

Sharon Mesmer was supposed to be at the reading, but apparently she sprained her ankle, and while I generally do not wish misfortune on anyone, I was pretty happy about this. She is a poet who is into writing “flarf,” which is poetry that is composed using terms from Spam and Google suggestions. I have heard her read before, and unfortunately, flarf seems to be a form of poetry that is high on style, but very low on substance. So instead of her reading a bunch of shitty poetry, host Eric Rosenfield opened the evening by reading one of her poems called “Annoying Diabetic Bitch,” which pleasantly surprised me, and actually made me LOL.

1. The violinist/guitarist of The Atomic Nevada Two is Brian Slattery, author of Spaceman Blues and Liberation, and the editor of the New Haven Review. 2. The readers of the evening: Jeffrey Ford & Felix Gilman.

Jeffrey Ford was the first reader up, and the band accompanied him by playing a very extended rendition of “Sleepwalk,” which was featured in the story he read, “The Double of my Double is not my Double.” I think I may have a poor attention span, because I found myself either paying attention the the band or the story, and not both simultaneously. But I do admit that I may have been even further distracted by the woman sitting next to me, who was chewing on her nails in a manner that made me feel extremely uncomfortable and vaguely disgusted, similar to how I feel when I see a dog is licking its genitals — I think it may have been the gnawing, wet noises that were coming out of her mouth. Anyway, I did my best to focus on Ford’s reading, and his prose was lively, amusing, and possessed a unique hard-boiled quality to it as we heard about dipping things into chocolate and doppelgangers, and the doppelgangers of those doppelgangers.

Felix Gilman then read a short story that accompanies his new steampunk adventure novel, The Half-Made World, which was called “Lightbringers and Rainmakers.” I can tell you from the reading that the story was told in a series of letters and business cards had some sort of role, but it was really difficult for me to understand much more, because either the band was too loud or the mic wasn’t loud enough — I’m not really sure which. Fortunately, the story is available online. Now, I’m really not one for anything even remotely related to sci-fi (unless it’s Star Wars), but there is something that even I find compelling about Gilman’s voice, which is established quickly and has a subtle sense of humor.

The reading was short and sweet: About an hour after the evening began, the band took us out with one last song.

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

1. Hope Ewing, who is waiting to hear back from her MFA applications, and Sarah Gilman, who is married to Felix. Fortunately, she’s also a fan! 2. Marina Rosenfield, Lara Osborne, Eric Rosenfield, who blogs at wetasphalt.com and was the host for the evening, & John Osborne. Guess who’s married to who.

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