Thursday, April 16, 2009

To attend or not to attend

As an on-again-off-again employee of The King's English, I've had the opportunity to attend a LOT of readings over the years. In fact, I attended one last night. Heather Armstrong, aka "Dooce," did a reading at the Framery (next to the store), and she was everything her many fans would have wished for--gorgeous, funny, sassy.

When I was telling a friend (a poet! and a fabulous one!) about the event, she told me how much she does NOT enjoy going to readings, even if she adores the author. And I do have to say that some of the readings I've been to at TKE made me want to seriously sedate myself. Literary short fiction writers tend to be the worst. They drone on in these portentous monotones with occassional (and sometimes suprising) bursts of emphases. Like I remember this one writer who read the word "broccoli" as though it was full of special significance and symbolic heft, which it wasn't. It was just the word that happened to be there when she randomly switched gears from "monotone" to "dramatic."

Anyway. Enough of that. I want to know what you think about readings--as someone in the audience, as someone who's been the reader.

Meanwhile you'll be thrilled to know I ate two cupcakes this afternoon. One of them had orange creme frosting.


candace said...

you know, you need to keep a list of all the cupcakes you've had (and where from) and share it with us--I'm always up for a new treat.

I laughed so hard when I read what you said about monotone and broccoli--you hit it right on! I had a teacher at USU (go Aggies) who was a great creative fiction teacher--but I went to hear her give a reading and thought...I'd rather flunk her class than turn out like that...and I would NEVER want any of my writing read in such a way. yuck.

I got an A- in the class because she said my fiction was too unbelievable...well of course it is if you read it with a monotone voice and emphasize words like broccoli.

Ann said...

And the worst part, Candace, is that I burst out laughing when she said it. Sort of like that time I was in the sixth grade's and had to sit through Dr. Nicholson's Maturation Talk for Girls.

Kerry said...

here's my favorite pretentious poem reading

BBB said...

My favorite reading was Billy Collins at the Salt Lake Library. I heart him.

He is hilarious and the really funny/internally cringing thing is that I didn't know he was funny before I had heard him read. I use to read his poems to myself like he was all serious and philosophical.

I felt sheepish as I left, realizing, like everything else in my life, that I had dramatized him (eye roll here).

Louise Plummer said...

It's a toss-up really. Pretentious writers are a real snore. Then I'm surprised at the number of writers who don't read at all well. They mumble or talk too fast.

But as BBB said, sometimes you come away from a reading and the tone and/or performance adds to your understanding and enjoyment of the writing. I've been at readings when I just plain fell in love with the author. It doesn't get better than that.