Noticing the “upcoming readings” posted at a local bookstore after a ramble through Art, I found myself on an escalator cataloging the most outrageous readings I’ve seen. It’s more edgy live; like inciting an imagination riot. At risk of all this sounding like an interminable bit of name dropping:
I saw (heard?) Galway Kinnell at the 92nd St. Y during my first visit ever to New York. Searching for a sublet, I had a rented beeper that went off mid-stanza. I should have been reading instructions instead of poems.
Paul Theroux read from Dark Star Safari and lashed into what he felt was the misguided hubris of Bono’s global philanthroposture.
Martin Amis read a story from Heavy Water called “What Happened to Me on My Holiday,” and you’ve never read anything like it, I’m certain. I couldn’t believe he picked it: so risky. The narrator is an eleven-year-old boy, and it’s written in a phonetic rendering of an American accent.
Norman Mailer (The Time of Our Time) ended his reading with a filthy joke about Bill Clinton and a dog.
It was standing-room-only for David Foster Wallace, who curdled the crowd with seat-shifting laughter: the section of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men was crude and scatological.
The late Tristan Egolf, author of Lord of the Barnyard: Killing the Fatted Calf and Arming the Aware in the Corn Belt, apparently put off some agricultural interests. It’s a wild novel. He was accosted by protesters who hurled whole cabbages at the podium, which was stationed at the top of an escalator, and fled. He kept going. Maybe it was those moving stairs that triggered my memory.