Bartenders as book jockeys: memorable moments at recent NYC book readings

7 10 2011

Joe's knows happy endings

There are some bars that fling open their doors in the fall to welcome football fans. I prefer to belly up to book readings. Here’s a selection of the most memorable moments from the last two weeks.

KGB Bar playing host to True Story Nonfiction night (September 27): I stumbled upon this bar awhile ago and it reminded me of another communist-themed bar I love, People’s Republik in Cambridge, MA. One Google search later, and I realized this bar features regular reading series, so I returned. The night I went authors Siddhartha Deb and John Gravois read. Gravois put on a better show, but that wasn’t the most memorable part of the night. I was sitting next to a foreign correspondent for the AP and we were talking about my less impressive journalism career. “What’s holding you back?” he asked. That’s like asking a subway driver what’s holding him back from becoming an astronaut. I don’t know, dude, NASA’s budget?

Happy Ending bar playing host to The How I Learned Series (September 28): The ads for this reading series have been chasing me for a while so I made the time to check it out. This was one of the better readings I’ve ever been to. The theme of the night was How I Learned to Survive and featured readings from Alexander Chee, Ed Gavagan, Melanie Hamlett, Jillian Lauren, and Joanne Solomon. And the most memorable moment award goes to Melanie who told a story about picking up a guy for a one night stand, but before she went home with him, she made a detour to her apartment to pick up essentials, like a phone charger, book, reading lamp, snacks and other items she might need. I think the lesson is it’s good to prepare for spontaneity.

Joe’s Pub playing host to The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series (October 5): Joe’s Pub just reopened after a three month renovation, and after have a great Happy Ending moment the week before, this reading seemed like a no-brainer to attend. The theme was frustration. Writers Seth Fried, Paul La Farge and Jesse Ball spoke, and musician Anni Rossi played piano and sang. Anni put in the best performance, but if I had to judge the writers, it would be a memorial moments tie. Amanda Stern, who hosts the series, asks the writers to do something new after each reading, and that’s where the best stories come out. So the most memorable moment is a tie between learning Barnes and Noble shop lifting tips from Jesse and Seth’s letter of forgiveness sent to a drunken friend who peed in his bed (while they were both in it) written as a parody of Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural address. Nerd out, yo.

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