Utilities Included: A Night of Brooklyn Writers at Pine Box Rock Shop

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1.Eric Nelson and his Cape Fear costume. 2. M. Craig reads from The Narrows

On one of the biggest party nights of the year (otherwise known as the Saturday before an unfortunate weekday Halloween), it was affirming to see a sizable crowd filling the back room of Pine Box Rock Shop for a reading. ‘Utilities Included: A Night of Brooklyn Writers’ featured six young authors and was hosted by Eric Nelson — writer, Fireside Follies co-creator, Outlet contributor, and one of Brooklyn Magazine’s “Indie Lit Impresarios” (alongside our own Halimah Marcus and Benjamin Samuel), to name a few of his lengthy credits.

At the risk of sounding grandiose, this curated selection of writers was a spot-on sampling of the future of literature in New York: writers with biographies full of self-created communities and collectives, start-up reading series and small presses — a true underground that, this reporter predicts, will be the subject of New York Times trend pieces and the nostalgic, non-fiction, “I-was-there-when” tomes in years to come.

1. “I’m not used to wearing this much clothing,” quipped a decked out Alex Morris. 2. DIY flyer for the reading.

The selections themselves were genre-mashing and often experimental, starting off with a crime novel excerpt from the excellently mustachioed Jonathan Herzog, and a Bushwick-set ghost story in which musicians are taunted with whispers of failure by Joel Marino. Elegant and witty flash-fiction from Lauren Belski followed, stemming from the collective Kilgore Trout House for Wayward Writers’ exquisite corpse writing project. Southern Writers Reading Series founder Alex Morris laid on a thick accent for his hilarious and energetic poetry, including the should-be iconic line, “I can’t say what love is/I can’t say anything until I eat my bacon.”

1. Jonathan Herzog gestures to his “bathing suit area,” where he generously repped a sticker for The Narrows.

The night was rounded out by two noteworthy forces in independent publishing: Nathaniel Kressen, reading from his fantastical love-story Concrete Fever and M. Craig, reading from her queer-eco-fantasy novel The Narrows. Since each of these spectacular and self-funded publications deserve their own post, I can only make two suggestions: one, get your hands on these books before their limited runs sell out, and two, attend The New Indie Force in Publishing, a panel discussion featuring Kressen, Craig, Susan Kirschbaum (Who Town) and Rami Shamir (Train to Pokipse) at Spoonbill & Sugartown later this winter to learn about their trials and triumphs while operating outside of the publishing system, if only so you too can say “I was there when…”


— Sarah Lerner is an occasional contributor to Electric Literature’s Outlet, The L Magazine and Time Out New York. She is the Northside Festival Producer and event coordinator for Northside Media Group.

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