Saturday, August 14, 2010

11. Reading } Brookline Booksmith

With a simple, short-range radio device attached to my throat, I controlled the machine pictured above by reading “Holy Ghost.” It’s a burden lugging the machine with me—it weighs as much as a “portable” 1920 Singer sewing machine—but the effect it has on audiences is dramatic, and by all accounts my reading was very much enjoyed. Joy Crelin reported seeing "a weird kind of light map" (pictured below); Liz T. told me she heard—an undercurrent running beneath my story—the low-frequency sounds of blue whales (usually not audible at all!). In the end I’m glad I brought the machine, but I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to.

John read from Under the Small Lights the chapter “The Straw Bed” (“Tell me a story. Tell me about Maybe.”) and from the chapter “Birdlike.” Both very funny but charged with the drama and pain insecurity so easily makes. Before he read—and you won’t believe me, I’m sure—John poured wine for the audience.

After we read, after John and I signed books, John caught up with some old friends who came and I began to browse the used books. While looking at the spines of medieval romances a gentleman handed me a poem, written on a page torn from a Simon & Schuster hardcover (their logo to the left of the handwritten poem—I never saw the title of the book). It was a found poem made of lines from my story. My favorite line is, “toss holy ghost; crisp theory proposed”—in the story, it’s Chris’s theory—I don’t know if “crisp” is a deliberate change or if he just heard me wrong. My thanks to the anonymous poet.

We went for a meal, then, about nine of us. Melissa Goodrum led a toast to our success and to the success of our books. Thank you.

On my way back to my car—a slow walk with that heavy machine—I thought about the conversation I overheard at the college bookstore about that student of mine who was killed—I thought about the strange condition of “some of her organs” and I worried (needlessly, foolishly) about the condition of my own. A Green Line trolley rattled past me then, the lights off in all the cars. The wind that followed the trolley cooled me. I reminded myself: this was a good night.


  1. Wait, you did a reading with the accompaniment of some kind of machine comprised partly of bottles? You are now my hero.

  2. Catch us in Buffalo October 22nd (Talking Leaves Books) and see for yourself.... By then I'll've done a few more readings, so should have things a bit more refined.