Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Readings Return

This photo and its twin from my previous post are undoubtedly poor images, but I wanted to capture, however feebly, the twilight ambience of Franklin Park on Monday night at the Reading Series. The readings themselves were excellent again, a cozy mélange of humor and remembrance that was neither amateur nor pretentious. As an added bonus, three of the authors read works in progress, two for the first time.

Brooklynite Alyssa Pinsker kicked things off with a reading from her upcoming memoir Big in Japan, which chronicles her time as an English teacher in a Tokyo suburb. The double-entendre of the title, referencing both the pseudo-celebrity status of a young white female to the teenage Japanese and her size relative to the local women, set the reading up nicely, dealing as it did with both the hysterical shouts of pubescent Japanese boys and the late night subway molestations of a strange man targeting an outsider. Teddy Wayne followed with a first-time reading of his upcoming novel Kapitoil, which takes the form of journal entries from a Qatari programmer moving to NYC, reading in a straight-ahead, almost deadpan monotone that conveyed both the author’s wit and the character’s naivete (though I haven’t read the novel, it seems that Wayne’s Karim Issar may serve as a Candide to the NYC finance world).

Erin Einhorn, reading from her memoir/family investigation The Pages in Between (excerpted here), opted to tell, rather than read, most of her story, enthralling the attendees and sending me running for her This American Life piece. A NY Daily News reporter, Ms. Einhorn has a remarkable knack for narrative, both written and spoken. Longtime NYC resident and wine writer Alice Feiring closed the night out with a short piece on grape harvesting in France and then an unexpected and delightful brand-new essay on love, with, of all things, rats as a unifying metaphor (it works, I promise you).

Many thanks to Franklin Park for hosting, and to Penina Roth for coordinating the series. It’s on hiatus for August, but look for them again in September!

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