Yale Review’s 100th Anniversary Party
1. Loren & Mackenzie, who are fans of Lorrie Moore, but were having fun anyway. 2. Amelia Keiser, Adina Talve-Goodman, Molly Alexander, & Jackie Alexander. Adina & Jackie both work for One Story.
Here is a perfect example of why I like writing for DISH:
Last night it was cold, and I had a long week, and I really just wanted to stay at home and watch a movie. But no, I had to go into Manhattan to go to the Yale Review’s 100th Anniversary Party at Le Poisson Rouge. I went into the bar, found a seat (it was crowded and this made me even more annoyed), and then crankily listened to the introduction.
Then Caryl Phillips began to read. He told us that his favorite part of writing fiction was the ability to disappear behind his work, and so when asked to write a short piece about influential works, he decided that he would write it in a way that revealed as little about his life as possible. But he failed. Miserably. Instead the piece was very revealing, even memoiristic. He told us about his experiences reading books like Black Like Me and Anna Karenina. And then he told us about a meeting with his tutor in college. Phillips was originally a psychology major, because he wanted to understand people, he said to the tutor. The tutor told the young Phillips that William James was the first psychology professor at Harvard, but it was his brother Henry who really understood people, and it was then that Phillips decided to change his course of study. Between Phillips’s crisp prose and his clear, British voice, his words affected me with a force that was simultaneously cold and fierce. And suddenly, I was glad that I had come.
1. Jennifer, from The Writer’s Studio, & Carolyn, from Book Book, selling book books. 2. Reader Michael Cunningham & art adviser Joe Sheftel.
Louise Glück read “Landscape,” and it sent me into a poetry-induced hypnotic trance.
Edmund White read an excerpt about a gay and a straight man who renew their friendship after years of being apart. The book includes lots of “daring straight sex scenes,” which may be due to the fact that once a writer reaches a “certain age,” they have to start “reaching out.” The excerpt was really funny, and provided a nice contrast to the heavier writings of Glück and Phillips. I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed the humor — as White commented, the audience was full of “good laughers.”
Lorrie Moore was supposed to be the final reader for the night, but she couldn’t make it due to a lingering respiratory illness. Instead, some schmuck named Michael Cunningham took her place (like anyone cares about a Pulitzer anyway). He read us a “bouquet of short chapters” from Snow Queen, which is the novel he’s currently working on. His gorgeous prose was about drug use and the relationship between an “amazing” older woman and a man who is “young and hot and just dumb enough to be happy most of the time.”
All in all, it was an impressive evening featuring a diverse list of wonderfully talented writers. Just as I was thinking about how glad I was to be forced out of my house, I got on the L train to head back home. Oh, life, you’re so hilarious!
–Julia Jackson is working on her MFA in fiction at Brooklyn College, and is a regular contributor for Electric Dish.