11.05.2010

Let's recap: gypsy Halloween singalong, Pet Semetery, cheap gyros, matching b/f, g/f taco costumes, blue jumpsuit, motherboards dangling from neckties, parties of social coincidences, a perilous van ride singalong.

Then the Barry Hannah tribute on Wednesday, hosted by Gene Kwak. Really well-lit time at Newtonville Books, lamps and early release copies of Barry's posthumous selected-and-new collection, Long Last Happy. Joy-stuffed reflections and remembrances, guns with popcorn in them, lots of gut shots and gut laughs of prose. Folks from all over to celebrate a fine man of Oxford, the Southern one. I was humbled to have an opportunity to yak a little about my relationship to the work of Barry Hannah, who was a heart wrangler, a soothsayer, a white hot pilot of knowing why stories are worth it. And humbled especially to read in such company: Askold Melnyczuk, Amy Hempel, Sven Birkerts, Jennifer Haigh, and James Parker. I read "Coming Close to Donna." I wore my best shoes. Later I ate some Eggs Benedict Pizza, and I was a little drunk when I ate it, so I didn't realize until now that such a dish is like something invented as a Christmas present by my kindest dreams.

Next day, I guest-lectured about theft and verbal storytelling in Gene's UMass Boston class. Sharp folks, all ages, creased by experience. Gene was sick and I convinced him to eat some ginger chicken soup. Rain fell on the lake and the UMass Boston campus looked like a prison movie before the redemptive part. Later we got fried chicken, black-eyed peas, and wonderful clove-tasting sweet potatoes delivered to Gene's abode, which was very brave of the delivery people, because I guess Gene likes to shoot them. Or wait, maybe that's his neighbor. That night I read at Lorem Ipsum books (thanks to the kind Pete and Kate for setting things up), which had recently moved into an old refrigerator store. I read with Mark Leidner and Elisa Gabbert. Leidner was hilarious and Gabbert was genius, though each borrowed liberally from both afflictions. I ate some salt and vinegar chips. Gene alas was too sick to read, but he was missed. People made eye contact in wonderful ways. Mark and I stopped at a convenience store on the way back to Western Mass, and then we wondered what would happen if America were one big corporation, and all the billboards just had ads for specific products like: APPLES! CHAIRS! BRACELETS!

Now I am home and working on getting shit together. Some linkage news includes two new reviews of L!L!F, an enthusiastic one in the Brooklyn Rail and a lukewarm one on the blog Glorified Love Letters. Over on the NOÖ Journal blog, Gabe Durham talks about James Robison's 1988 novel The Illustrator, which I want to call a punt-return-for-a-touchdown book because that's the kind of damn good I think it is. And, you can win a free copy of Dennis Cooper's new essay collection Smothered In Hugs by just posting a comment about your dreams or making up a dream and posting a comment. Super easy. Win a free book. Stay tuned for more NOÖ blog content, including long overdue RAD Poetry videos, as I try slaphazardly to hype the run-up to NOÖ 12. The trick is getting past the kicker, who's always a better tackler than he should be.

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