- The crowd. Can you spot John Wray?
For those unfamiliar with the monthly reading series Fireside Follies—which, you shouldn’t be, after our sister publication Brooklyn Magazine
’s inclusion of founders Mike Lala and Eric Nelson in their Indie Lit Impresario round-up
—it goes a little something like this: a few out-of-town and local Brooklyn writers walk into a bar, Bushwick's Brooklyn Fire Proof East to be exact, and read—one right after the other, sans any highfalutin introductions that some other shall-not-be-named reading series dwell in, with a little time built in to sneak to the bar and mingle with the literati, of course. This past Saturday featured the dreamy line-up of Rebecca Wolff (The Beginners
), Scott McClanahan (Stories V!
and the forthcoming Crapalachia
), Kathleen Alcott (The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets
and one of our Five Breakout Brooklyn Book People of 2012
) and newcomer Jacob Kaplan, who more than held his own with an excerpt from his short story “Sayonara, Sad Sack”—he was a highlight of an already exceptional evening.
Fireside Follies cofounders Eric Nelson and Mike Lala, who introduced the evening together. Crumpled Press
recently released Nelson's story The Walt Whitman House
as a small book.
Kaplan is the kind of local writer you want to believe every literary aspirant to be. His excerpt was lush with detail and confidently elegant, presenting the packed house with three fully developed characters in no time flat, including Becky: “Becky is a waitress, but at a hip place where being a waitress is more than just being a waitress… Becky talks about her job when she doesn’t enjoy it, but I think she likes not enjoying it—something to push against.”
The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets
, Kathleen Alcott’s debut novel, has received glowing reviews from critics and authors alike, many citing her exquisite precision and detail. As a 24-year-old wunderkind, Alcott did not disappoint the crowd. She read her short story “Saturation,” which will be in a forthcoming issue of Coffin Factory
; she wrote it while “thinking a lot about color.” Her musings manifested themselves both in character and prose: “His wife could see hundreds more colors than the average human, and though this didn’t leave her more warm and generous, he never stopped believing it would.”
As we at The L
have mentioned time
and time again
, Scott McClanahan is a writer you truly need to experience. His prose may work fine on the page, but something about his West Virginia drawl; his invocation of recorded voices and sounds to enhance settings and dialogue; the simultaneous confidence in the performance and apologetic, shy shrugs; the dexterity of his tongue; and his manner of getting in your face with his words so literally, you flinch—something about it all makes the room take a collective breath. You know, in a good way.
It’s no wonder he consistently earns comparisons to some kind of religion-less preacher, with his powerful, ritualistic repetition of such phrases as “nothing lasts” and “please tell me I exist and I will tell you you exist.” To see him is to make a memory that you will not soon forget.
- Rebecca Wolff reads from her new, “bad,” “mid-life crisis” poems
“I’ve been complaining since I got here—what is this, Bushwick?” Rebecca Wolff began, slightly antagonizing the pretty local crowd. She read a series of new poems that she didn’t “feel particularly certain of”—always a promising start. “They mostly document the ridiculously violent passion I had recently for a person, so they must be bad poems,” she rationalized, citing too a mid-life crisis, manifested through her doula training and the experience of newly being in love. Luckily for those still reeling from McClanahan, Wolff was, of course, exaggerating, and concluded the evening with a series of sparse poems nowhere near as juvenile as she set them up to be.