1. Book ladies! Marion Wyce, who is a contriutor to the Books section of TLR; Jena Salon, the Books editor; & Cassie Hay, also a contributor to the Books section. 2. Anna Utevsky, an editorial assistant for TLR, & Dominique Andrews, a food writer.
Last night, Pete’s Candy Store in Williamsburg was the scene of the literary magazine The Literary Review (TLR)’s holiday party, which marked the publication of their latest issue, “Refrigerator Mothers.” The party cost $8 to get in, but included a copy of the magazine and an open bar, and we also got to enjoy a reading by two TLR contributors.
1. Reader Eli Rosenberg & Jacquelyn Morris, a design student. 2. Marc Lesser, a writer for Swell City Guide, & Josh Goldberg, who reads but doesn’t write. Both of these fine gentlemen live down the street from Pete’s Candy Store.
We were allowed plenty of time for socializing and drinking from said open bar, during which I got a chance to speak to TLR’s editor, Minna Proctor. She told me about the magazine, which has been put out quarterly by Fairleigh Dickinson University since 1957. The magazine has an international focus, and many of the literary works that it contains are translations. Each issue has a theme, thus “Refrigerator Mothers,” which was a term coined in the 1950s. A trendy phrase in its day, it was a way of explaining why children were schizophrenic or autistic, placing the blame on the not-affectionate-enough mothers. Obviously, this theory has since been debunked. All content included in this volume has to do with mothers, motherhood, children, and other similar topics. Besides including sections for poetry, fiction, essays, and interviews, the magazine also has a Books section. Unlike most other books sections, TLR’s are not exactly reviews — there are no “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.” Instead, these are more personal essays that deal with the actual experience of reading the reviewed book.
5. Joanna Yas, the editor for Open City, & Michael Morse, who is a poet, teacher, and on the editorial board for TLR. Morse says Yas kicks ass in everything she does. 6. TLR’s editor, Minna Proctor, looking heavenly on stage as she opens the evening.
After we had partied for a sufficient amount of time, we were led into the tiny back room. Proctor took the stage and introduced the first reader, Eli Rosenberg. This was his first publication, Minna explained, which made her proud because her job at TLR enables her to publish stuff that she really likes. Rosenberg’s essay was published in the Summer issue, “The Worst Team Money Could Buy,” which Proctor encouraged us to “buy, or steal, or read online” (yes, the issues of TLR are available for free on their website — pretty awesome, huh?). The printed essay included lots of capital letters, so we were encouraged to imagine these capital letters in our heads. The essay was about, as Proctor said, words in time, and what we call things, and covered such topics as Winston Churchill, Spiderman, the economic crisis, marijuana, and the war/occupation/quagmire in Iraq. Despite covering so many diverse and complicated topics, the essay was concise, funny, and even touching.
Christopher Sorrentino was the second (and final) reader and has a story that will be included in in TLR’s upcoming issue. He read to us from a recently-finished story entitled “Our Prom Crash,” which deals with a fatal car crash on — yup — prom night, and its effects on a community and its members’ futures. The story pleasantly reminded me of The Virgin Suicides due to its use of the second person and idyllic-yet-solemn tone. Sorrentino admitted in his introduction that his inclusion in TLR might be an example of nepotism — he is, after all, the father of Proctor’s child. But nepotism be damned — his story was striking and moving, and I was disappointed when, toward the end of the reading, the bartender opened the door to the back room, which let in the clamor from the bar and signaled that literary time at Pete’s was over.
–Julia Jackson is working on her MFA in fiction at Brooklyn College, and is a regular contributor for Electric Dish.