WEEK IN REVIEW: frankenstein’s monster is gorgeous, self-censorship

(Evan Karp)

D. A. Powell, happy to be back in San Francisco after a stint on the East Coast, casually explained that he had “smoked The Godfather” before his reading. A lion with mastered roar enunciated every nuance of feeling, conscious of cadence, swan song, snakeskin phoenix. A headless virgin. Tamim Ansary was asked by a staffing agent, “Did it ever occur to you that you just wasted four years of your life?” and he took the question seriously.

America. The things we knew slipped away from us, we were devastated, if only for a short moment, by somebody else’s story. We were left alone, falling… lost ourselves in crowds and confessed our terrors, sipped on sunrise and came to terms with the fallibility of our heroes, somersaulted and kicked our own asses. Rob Brezsny declared that “in the new world we will love our neighbors as ourselves, even if our neighbors are jerks.” We rhymed ourselves into a lullaby mirror, trapped, we recognized a common anatomy. All of this in the same room, in the same evening.

2 miles away at the same time, Porchlight Storytelling produced it’s now annual Kitchen-themed show—selling out the 200+ person Verdi Club in advance. Originally at The Hemlock Tavern and then Cafe Du Nord before their current location, Porchlight is beginning to make a case for the first-ever AT&T Storytelling Coliseum. True stories. Personal experiences, recounted and shared. Community.

On a sad and peculiar note, First Person Singular‘s performance of Lorrie Moore‘s story “People Like That Are the Only People Here” was called off. Here’s the thread:


    Dear Friends,
    With regret, we must cancel our performance of Somewhat Autobiographical: “Lorrie Moore’s People Like That Are The Only People Here.” The author has expressed her wishes to us that this story not be performed. Sorry for the disappointment, and we’ll see you next time.

    Joe Christiano, Pegasus Bookstore

    June 7 at 10:21am ·  ·
  • Evan Karp BOOOOOOO i was going to try to make it. this is a major bummer, elizabeth. i don’t even see how she can do that! or why she writes if she doesn’t want us to share it. =(
    June 7 at 10:39am · 
  • Elizabeth Rosner I hear you loud and clear. It’s most unfortunate that she feels this way, but we are honoring her wish. Prompts further conversation….

    June 7 at 10:41am · 
  • June 7 at 10:42am · 
  • Thaisa Frank

    Wow, Liz. How unexpected. And a downer. You would have done the story justice because you read so well. I’ve often wondered how Lorrie Moore felt after writing that story. It seemed to me that she sort of ripped her insides out and showed them to the world. (Much more raw somehow than in memoir or non-fiction.) On the other hand, I haven’t read The Frog Hospital—which may have been just as raw. Anyway, I’m really sorry. I thought I’d be able to make it.
    June 7 at 11:08am · 
  • June 7 at 11:12am ·  ·  2 people
  • Thaisa Frank We should! Liz….are you up for it?

    June 7 at 11:13am ·  ·  1 person
  • Harriet Chessman oh no!!! I am so so sorry to hear this, Liz!! yikes. I couldn’t have come up tomorrow, but I would definitely come up for a private reading and I will pay good money for it too, my friend!!

    June 7 at 11:15am ·  ·  1 person
  • Elizabeth Rosner The situation is really fascinating. Apparently she says we can do any other story but not that one. And that’s entirely the point of having chosen it in the first place — the particularly poignant closeness to the bone of the material.

    June 7 at 11:26am ·  ·  1 person
  • Monty J Heying Thanks for the update. Sorry it didn’t work out.

    June 7 at 11:29am · 
  • Regina Marler Wow. You’re right that this is fascinating. Interesting that she feels so protective of material that she felt comfortable enough to publish. Did a public performance feel as if others would be weirdly embodying something of her own, as if you were modeling her clothes?

    June 7 at 11:46am · 
  • Thaisa Frank I can understand how she feels although it would be hard to put into words. I’m still sorry there won’t be a reading. (I wonder if a private reading would be okay.)

    June 7 at 12:19pm ·  ·  1 person
  • Monty J Heying

    I’ve thought about how I would feel if someone wanted to do a screenplay or film based on one of my stories. It weakens me in the knees, that someone I hardly know could interpret my work, cut and fill to suit their creative interpretation….Letting go would be agony the first time, and yet, I’d be intensely curious to know what they might see that I might have been blind to.
    (Now I want to read Lorrie’s story, but I will be always curious about Liz’s interpretation.)
    June 7 at 12:30pm ·  ·  1 person
  • Elizabeth Rosner I think this discussion reflects the very complexity we hoped to address. And as you may have noticed, I always said “perform” in quotation marks because I recognized the blurriness of the endeavor. To have published something doesn’t necessarily imply comfort, right?

    June 7 at 1:29pm ·  ·  3 people
  • Thaisa Frank Well put, Liz. Also, she’s writing about her child–a relationship that’s almost always alive and ongoing no matter what happens to that child. More than any other piece of fiction I’ve read, the story has an open-ended quality about it. (As you see….I could go on and on 🙂 )

On Friday, Literary Death Match returned for its second outing since deciding to alternate months. The house was packed. A toddler might or might not love his mother, but does seek passion and uses the word, sometimes with fervor. How did Agatha Christie really die? We straddled truth and fiction as though the difference were a border between two southeastern states (indistinguishable, West Coasters). Belo Cipriani, who lost his sight four years ago, made and wore a shirt with brail of one of his blog posts on the front, read off of his shirt, and won the crown. Judges had to decide between Belo’s sweet recounting—typed up using the desktop applications JAWS—and the nervous rabbinical rant of a performance poet.

“I was at the mall the other day, and I bumped into this white guy, right. And he turned around and said ‘Hey! Watch where you’re going, bro.’ And I thought, ‘Did he just call me nigger?'” Guest co-host Howard Johnson Jr. “couldn’t tell the difference.” He proceeded: “And I was reading the other day that they’re planning on taking the word nigger out of all the Mark Twain novels [“aww” from the crowd]… and replacing it with the word bro. And can you imagine that? Reading your favorite Mark Twain character, Nigger Jim. Now being renamed Bro Jim. In my favorite passage from 1865, and I quote: …”

Writers With Drinks made Daphne Gottlieb say: “Holy shit, writers with drinks. You are why I do this shit. Thank you.” After this type of performance earlier the same week, that’s saying paragraphs. Science Fiction in San Francisco? Just another week in the lit world, baby.