Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Literary Matters

Oh no! It is time once again for "Literary Matters," just what everybody hates. With good reason! But these particular literary matters are pretty nice for a change and there are just two of them so shut up. 1) A wonderful time at Off Square Books yesterday: master of the short story Jim Shepard - who both in visage and temperament somewhat resembles the great Groucho Marx - read from his new book YOU THINK THAT'S BAD. (He was a handsome man, Groucho was. Just yesterday on TCM I saw a snippet of an interview with Maureen O'Sullivan [pictured] in which she said "I could have been in love with him." But she also said something weird, which was that she told him, "I don't like funny men" and made him stop telling jokes when he was around her.) Jim Shepard was reading from his short story "Minotaur" (which contained a reference to sad clown Emmett Kelly!) and we were all bobbing our heads and nodding and chuckling with pleasure when suddenly - BOOM! - there was a revelation that socked us in the gut and the whole audience sort of went "oof." The audience made a noise! I think this is a sign of a good reading. Most readings are terrible, as we know. But if you literally get the wind knocked out of you, that's a good one. I heard something similar happen - a gasp - a few years ago when my friend Pia Z. Erhardt read her short story "The Man." We were "on tour" together and the gasp occurred each time she read it! 2) I took PARROTS OF THE WORLD off of my recommendation shelf at Square Books and replaced it with CROW PLANET, the volume from which I extract much of this "blog's" crow information. Nothing against PARROTS OF THE WORLD! They are very colorful! But I believe my decision was the right one. When I left the store yesterday, I saw Michael Bible leafing through CROW PLANET with what appeared to be great interest. The shelf does its job! Oh! Somebody put a bunch of books ON TOP of my recommendation shelf but I DO NOT ENDORSE THOSE! Michael kindly drew some arrows pointing downward on my recommendation sign to help alert you to that fact. I cannot speak for the books above the sign!