Over at Hobart, Jensen Beach put together a beast of a roundtable “first books” interview with Kyle Beachy, Jed Berry, Andrew Ervin, Roxane Gay, Rachel B. Glaser, Caitlin Horrocks, Holly Goddard Jones, Tom McAllister, Laura van den Berg, Kevin Wilson, and Mike Young. Lots of interesting nuggets. Here’s Mike saying a lot of stuff I agree with about reading and performance:
Performance has always felt like a natural outgrowth of writing to me. If my work is talking at imaginary faces, then real faces are the mystical bonus round. Granted, I don’t like hustling people to buy my shit, but I do like entertaining them. Entertainment comes from roots that mean “to hold among,” to draw people in, to intertwine with somebody. That’s why one of the nicest things a stranger can do is entertain us, because that means they’re becoming less strange. Think of how you don’t have to say anything when you and somebody else are both laughing, but how much you know about that somebody else that you didn’t know before you laughed together.I mean, maybe this is all just my weird taste. I’d love for The National to play in my livingroom, and I’d buy their CD if they did a good job. And, okay, I actually enjoy sleeping in kitchens and eating 7-11 jerky. I’d rather live in a snow globe than an apartment, etc. Which is ridiculous, sure. But I do agree with Kyle above that publication is, fundamentally, a very egotistical gesture. For me, readings—and other forms of direct contact with readers, but most especially readings—actually feel like (potentially) graceful manifestations of that gesture: here I am with this language I made. And I’ll go ahead and make it again for you with my breath. That’s always felt actually kind of amazing. Which is to say I try my hardest to be half as good as some of the really terrific readers I’ve seen. Plus, if the book sucks, I (the author) can be off on an island riding walruses while you (the reader) suffer with my sucky book. If my reading sucks, at least you have this warm human to hate, which is always more satisfying than hating a book.
And hey–I’ve got my first Tennessee reading coming up in July, thanks to the efforts of the generous Kyle McCord, who is putting together a tour to promote his own first book:
The Titans of Library
Nashville Public Library (Special Collections Center)
Saturday, July 24 – 3 pm
(I’ll remind you again.)