July 12, 2004


Kathy P.

I was at the party last night too and shocked at how many people showed up and how much fun it was. The music was awesome. The space killer. Plenty of good drinks and intelligent conversation. I haven't seen anything like this in LA. The night was warm and almost everyone hung out at the back patio at some point, drinking and smoking and talking. Mark, you were pretty complimentary about everyone who read (maybe you really did think they were all good), and while I agree it was a great night overall, at the risk of offending the good people at Swink among others, I have a slightly different take on the readings that I thought I'd share:

1) Sara Cody's piece wasn't all that good, and she did this melodramatic nonsense that was over-the-top for a literary reading. Cringe-inducing, in my opinion. Someone should have told her this wasn't a high school drama club production. Also, most people won't get the Moll Flanders reference.

2) Vidya Madiraju's piece was solid, but nothing spectacular. Her reading was good-quiet and restrained.

3) David Hernandez rocked. The guy's poems were awesome, and he's funny! I loved that when the dogs were barking outside interrupting his reading, he muttered "critics" under his breath into the mic. Maybe you had to be there, but it was hilarious.

4) Although I agree that Darcy Cosper's reading was good, the book is pretty awful. Chick lit trying to be not-chick-lit because the protagonist is anti-marriage. It's a pretentious, boring tome in which women obsess about looks (theirs and others), status, and who they're jealous of. (Darcy admitted that Leelila rejected all her submissions for the reading and instead picked out an excerpt from the book herself. I think the Swink editor may have picked the only decent section in the entire book.) What I'm trying to figure out is why Cosper was reading at all. She's hardly a literary writer and doesn't have any affiliation with the magazine. Could it be an exchange of favors? After all, she is putting together this mediabistro thing tomorrow in which Strogov is a guest of honor. A ton of flyers were even passed out at the party for it. Smells a little foul to me.

5) Dylan Landis is a great writer, but she could have given a more inspired reading. I give her a 9/10 for the writing, a 6/10 for the reading.

6) David Ulin was predictably good. The new book promises to be an eclectic mix of ideas. After years of savoring him in the LA Times and LAWeekly (his essay in Swink is awesome too), I'll be psyched to pick that one up.

7) I've admired Meghan Daum's stuff for years, and she didn't fail expectations. Another of the humorous ones in the group. She started out by saying she might be dating herself by reading a satire of The Rules, published in '99, and then went on to say "Well, not dating myself exactly, not yet anyway." Clever.

8) Bernard Cooper's short-short is powerful, and the Swink staffer did an ok enough job with it, though he forgot to start with the title, something Strogov reminded him of from the sidelines like a schoolteacher. He started over.

9) Lisa Glatt read the beginning of "Soup," very good, a story about a "bad boy" teen who is friendly with the narrator's son. She read well. This is to be the second story Glatt will be publishing in Swink. But she's also David Hernandez's wife. Maybe another conflict here considering he's the poetry editor at Swink? Sorry for all the digs, but as rampant as it may be, I have an allergy to literary incest.

10) Andrew Foster Altschul was hands down the highlight of the night. For those of you who weren't there, the story's about a guy trying to fuck his way through the alphabet. Sounds like it could be trite, but it's not. I agree with Mark, it's one of my favorites in the mag. He's also an amazing reader.

11) Leelila Strogov was surprisingly good. Why surprising? Most editors can't write. She clearly can. But, as Swink's EIC and organizer of the event, I don't know how appropriate it was that she was the last reader. A convenient insertion.

So that's my take. I agree that Swink's a force, though. Might be almost as powerful in LA as in NY in gathering what literati we have, although I heard the NY launch a few months ago was insane. The backlog of cars headed to last night's party made me think of a Staples Center event, though, not a literary reading in Silverlake. Pretty cool.

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