My First Public Reading : Noir at the Bar
So as I mentioned in an earlier post, I was invited to read in Columbus at a Noir at the Bar event. On Monday, that reading happened. Here’s a full(ish) report along with some grainy (sorry) pictures:
Kealan Patrick Burke (see above) was the first reader, and if we were going by pedigree should definitely have headlined the thing. Kealan is a true force of nature. He’s won a bunch of awards, and published more novellas, novels, and short stories than I could in fifty years. He introduced his story “Visitation Rights” by telling everyone he was about to read the most depressing Christmas story we’ve ever heard, and he was right. But man, was it great. And shockingly, this was only Kealan’s third public reading, which considering how great at it he is, is really a crime. Go HERE to buy something of his. I just read JACK AND JILL which was twisted and dark, and I know SOUR CANDY is getting rave reviews and was just optioned by a film studio. So yeah, Kealan’s pretty much a jerk, right? A great guy I need to hangout with more often.
It’s hard for me to talk about Josh Penzone with any objectivity. I’ve known this guy for almost twenty years when he was my student teacher. (Believe me, I’m as shocked as you are that they ever allowed me to have a student teacher because that implies being a mentor, and I ain’t no mentor.) Josh currently teaches English in Hilliard, Ohio, and he read a piece written specifically for the Noir event about a woman who is a gifted storyteller, and has to go to great (and dangerous) lengths to tell her best story ever because she knows she can’t tell it to just anyone. It was an amazing performance (with Russian accents!), and it made me wish Penzone would get his priorities in order and write more because he’s a truly talented S.O.B. (Me as mentor: Say it with me, Josh, grading…meh.) You can buy Josh’s short story/novella HERE. Hopefully he’ll try to publish the piece he read Monday because yeah, it was great.
You may remember Chris Irvin from a recent interview I did with him. Or maybe you saw his picture on your local TV news as a suspicious guy hanging around an elementary school. Either way, he’s easy to hate–young, talented as hell, and full of ideas and projects. Chris set up this event–the 8th he’s done–and everything ran perfectly. Chris’s piece was titled “This Ain’t Halloween” and you can find it HERE. Instead of giving you a summary, I’ll just say this–a pill addicted Santa and a chain smoking Rudolph. ’nuff said, right? At something obnoxious like 31 years old, Irvin has nothing but amazing potential which makes him very punchable. Buy his stuff HERE so you can say you knew him before he got huge.
Yeah, that’s me, and yeah, somehow I ended up going last. Before the show started I was surprised by three former students showing up (how awesome is that?) and my aunt and uncle who live in Columbus. (I also learned something important that night–take pictures with the people who show up to support you! I’m such a dumbass.) I read the first chapter of DON’T GET CAUGHT, and I think it went well. At least people didn’t throw things at me, and that’s where I’m setting the bar. Afterward, I passed out bookmarks and postcards to anyone interested, then talked with people, most of whom asked, “You really have four kids?” (Yes. Yes, I do.) After that, it was BW3’s for beer, food, and conversation, then back to my hotel at a time that the next morning my body let me know that I’m much too old to be out past midnight.
Basically, it was a fantastic night and I was honored to be asked to participate. A special shoutout to Misty Rayburn for her support of all four of us. You can read her great book blog HERE.
Oh, and here’s a great picture someone took of the four of us. As someone commented on Facebook: “Noir at the Bar? More like Noir at the Bald.” Awesome.