On February 13th, five writers gathered at Brooklyn’s Franklin Park as part of the bar’s monthly reading series. This month, the lineup encompassed Will Snider, Chiara Barzini, Kate Zambreno, Martha Southgate, and Ben Marcus. Host Penina Roth introduced the theme as being loosely related to Valentine’s Day, albeit “twisted love stories.”
Both Snider and Southgate focused on sexual tension within very particular groups of colleagues. In Snider’s case, it was among several war correspondents in Mogadishu; in Southgate’s (an excerpt from her novel The Taste of Salt), it was a slow-burning flirtation between a pair of marine biologists.
Kate Zambreno read a trio of selections from her novel Green Girl, while Chiara Barzini read six of the short stories included in her collection Sister Stop Breathing. Hearing Barzini read these out loud, I found myself noticing details that didn’t stand out as much during my reading: a discarded flute in “Practice Items,” for instance.
Ben Marcus closed out the night with a series of short excerpts from his novel The Flame Alphabet. “It’s…just good times throughout this book,” he quipped after reading scenes outlining the slow crumbling of civilization, the implosion of language, and scenes of small children talking their elders into oblivion. (Given its themes and verbal imagery, I’m now wondering how Marcus’s novel might work as a sort of double bill with China Mieville’s Embassytown.)