Pretending I was not so sick the life was seeping out of me was not the worst way I could have chosen to spend a one-off Saturday alone in New York. At the end of the day, I was so worn out that I could only lie in the pod I arranged to sleep in and play episodes of How Did This Get Made. I stared at pages of Brian Kellow's Pauline Kael biography but did not have it in me to read it, really, just ask myself aloud what was going on inside Kael to inspire her unnatural noise. All of which amounts to what passes for me as relaxation.
I was there to go to the Emily Books party, where I let my insecurity about how close I was to passing out/crumbling into a pile of germs get to me, but what an event that was. I am so grateful to be familiar now with Berl's Brooklyn Poetry Shop — the opportunity to handle and purchase so many small press titles I've wanted and so many I could not afford on this trip took me right out of my swirling sick vortex.
And the reading lineup was worth all the money in the world. Eileen Myles could have read virtually anything, but I was excited she chose a part from Chelsea Girls since I've been heretofore unable to get a copy and am looking forward to reading it for the first time this fall. Elisa Albert, author of After Birth, read from her journal, and she concluded by vowing never to do that again. It was hilarious and surprising in a way I have never experienced in a reading, so should she hold herself to that, I treasure all the more the opportunity to have heard it. Johanna Fateman read her tweets, which reinforced Emily Gould's introductory note that those not following Fateman are fucking up their lives — every reader at this party was a font of joy to a crazy degree. And I was looking forward to hearing Jami Attenberg read since I have not yet read her work myself, but her choice of material made the whole event so special: Niina Pollari's Dead Horse!
Niina came to the Midtown Scholar in April for a reading organized somewhat by me, mostly by the whirlwind of inspired ideas that is Meghan Lamb, of whom St. Louis will get the benefit when she moves there to attend the Washington University MFA program in the fall. Niina read with a radiant lineup — Carina Finn! Paige Taggart! Margaret Bashaar! Erin Dorney! Melody Johnson! — and hearing Jami Attenberg's takes on them brought a whole other dimension to what a tremendous pleasure it is to hear them read. I loved having Niina's voice back in my head.
I also procured, finally, Carina's Invisible Reveille and Paige's Want for Lion; Ottessa Moshfegh's McGlue, which made me scream "YES" when I found it; the aforementioned Kael biography; The New Fuck You ed. Myles and Liz Kotz; the new biography of the publisher/founder of New Directions; Virginie Despentes' Apocalypse Baby; Bhanu Kapil's Ban en Banlieue; and (finally) the Arcades Project. And I walked two miles with them strapped to my person. It was worth it. I feel better now.
That was my first time in Brooklyn. I told the cab driver that, and that I thought Brooklyn is lovely, and he rebutted, remarking about the blight in the neighborhood we were driving through. Then he asked me where I'm from, and I told him — Harrisburg, Pennsylvania — and he conceded that I know what I'm taking about when I'm talking about the quality of a city's blight and that Brooklyn is lovely.
Also: I ran into Eileen Myles on Houston Street afterwards and she recognized me and I had an elderflower lemonade in my hand and the weather was perfect and this weekend could not have been better (state of my health notwithstanding).