...about author’s readings, who gives good ones (I believe Liz was mentioned) and how he approaches them and so forth. I’m afraid my readings are never what they should be. All my stuff is so long, I can only read excerpts and even they are long, so as a result I end up rushing them and messing up a lot. But all that is covered in Jeff’s post. What it started me thinking about is readings that tank because scarcely anyone shows up or some other reason.
When I was a musician we played a club in Kalamazoo, Michigan that had been a topless joint and was changing that very weekend to a rock club. The guy responsible for the publicity had forgotten to do it. To make matters worse, some of the girls, who had been fired that same afternoon, were in the back shooting pool, wearing housecoats over their costumes. It was tough crowd, to say the least. The friendliest faces, I recall, were those of two lesbians wearing blond wigs in a front booth. Guys kept coming up to me while I was singing and pulling on my pant’s leg and shouting, “Where’re the girls?” Our drummer didn't help matters when, following our first couple of songs, he said to the silent audience, "Thanks for the clap!"
I thought I’d put all that behind when I started writing, but one afternoon I got to a large LA bookstore just in time for my reading. A salesgirl hustled me back to the reading space and said cheerily, “You’ve got a big crowd!” It was a big crowd and not my usual mix—mostly matronly women. At the time I liked to read works-in-progress, no matter what book I had out at the time, and I’d selected a flashback scene in which a husband breaks in on his wife being unfaithful, fights with her lover, then has break-up sex with the wife. Immmediately after I began there were whispering and mutterings, followed by a few walkouts. I must have lost a third of the audience in the first ten minutes, another third by the halfway point. By the time I finished, there were only about 5 out of fifty people remaining. Hostile stares were the order of the day. Two of those who stayed did so to tell me I was a sexist because my husband character slapped his wife. Turns out they'd come to hear another writer who published a book on weaving. It wasn’t the most excrutiating 45 minutes I ever spent, but it’s up there.
Horror stories, anyone?
On another note, I watched Kekexili or Mountain Patrol last night, my second viewing of the film. It's a chinese picture, the story of impoverished vigilantes who track down poached who're killing the antelopes of Kekexili, an animal sacred to them. It sounds like Discovery Channel stuff (and it is released under the National Geographic banner), but this is one of the most beautiful movies ever made, a great epic...I'm watching nothing but good movies this week in hopes it'll steel me for Cloverfield.