Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ape sex, rolling gallbladders, and taco stands…

And what do all these things have in common, you may ask? Well, each represents one of the authors I heard read last night at Pacific Standard’s Monthly Reading Series – which, in case you haven’t been yet – is awesome. First off, they have a daily beer menu. Second, they have the alcohol content listed on said menu – and some of those beers get up to almost 10%. Third, and most important, they allow you to SAMPLE. Yes, sample a beer before you buy it. It’s like an alcoholic ice cream parlor in there.

And then, there’s the reading series. It’s hosted by Garth Risk Hallberg, the author of A Field Guide to the North American Family, and he looked quite dapper in his tuxedo shirt and vest. He also had a beer throughout the event, and everyone knows that I’m partial to a man with a beer in hand. Reading last night were Ceridwen Dovey, Anne Landsman, and Francisco Goldman. Ceridwen, author of Blood Kin, chose to read a short story she’s working on called “Red Peter’s Little Lady,” which is told from the perspective of an ape who serves as the girlfriend to Red Peters (the ape from Kafka’s “A Report to the Academy”). Anne read from her acclaimed novel The Rowing Lesson, giving the audience not only an insight into the disturbing world of medical school but also proving that the New York Times was correct in their assessment that “Landsman is a gambler, and here she risks everything” – and, b.t. dubs, wins.

After the readings from the two lovely South African ladies, we took a drinking break. Then – are you ready for this – Garth had the authors throw arrows at a dart board to determine what our drink specials during the break would be. It was genius. Especially when Ceridwen hurled the dart into the wood above the board itself.

Once we’d all refilled our pints, we settled back in to hear Francisco read from his new, non-fiction book, The Art of Political Murder, during which he uttered one of my favorite lines of the night: “The number of taco stands in that city could be a metaphor for infinity.” And that, I think says it all. Well, not really, but come on, it’s kind of a cool line to end on.


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