So, piggybacking off of the freshly posted review of Lindsay Hunter’s new collection Don’t Kiss Me, we’re going to institutionalize what has been an occasional feature on this blog: reports/recaps of cool literary events. And to kick it off, let’s talk FSG & GQ’s brilliant collaboration on The Originals Series.
FSG Originals is a brilliant and eclectic imprint from New York hothouse publisher Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, featuring authors who are as vibrant as the books they’ve written. GQ, presumably knowing a classy and cool thing when they see it, has been teaming up with FSG to fete some of these books (and others from the publisher that aren’t on the Originals imprint, too) and their authors by putting them in conversation with a musician or band. There’s drinking, music, conversation – it’s exactly the sort of literary party you always wanted to go to instead of regular old panels or lectures. Not that those are bad, but, come on now. Literature needs to party down sometimes, too.
Things kicked off last night in a loft on Varick Street, complete with a beautiful view out over Manhattan, when Lindsay Hunter took the stage to read a story from her book. The story is called “After” and I, at that point, had already read it – it’s the second story in the book – but my friends hadn’t. Content-wise, they were startled and surprised and laughing in vague discomfort. But Hunter left no time for contemplation: she tore through that sucker in under five minutes – a vestige of her background in “flash fiction”, being the founder of Quickies! in Chicago.
As people gathered their drinks, David Rees (the regular host of this series – and the guy behind “Get Your War On” and other things) brought Hunter and Holly Miranda to the stage and moderated a whiplash conversation about such diverse topics as currently not being New Yorkers, how short a piece of art can be to make you cry, and how much of a badass Stevie Nicks is. They actually attempted to act out this video of Nicks at soundcheck singing “Wild Heart” and then got the intrepid event staff to play it over the projector – and, as Hunter pointed out, Nick’s talent could and did absolutely murder everyone in the room.
As the conversation ended, Holly set up with a mic and an amp and played a short – but incredible – set. The crowd had drifted a bit, into conversations all their own, but by the end of her set every single ear was trained towards her. I’ll admit to being entirely unfamiliar with Ms. Miranda’s music coming in – but I went right home and picked up her last album. The music was raw and smart and bluesy-dark and haunting and beautiful and her voice – it’s not quite like anything else I’ve ever heard before. The same could be said, I think, for Ms. Hunter’s – and suddenly I realized why these two were an ideal pairing for an Originals event.
The evening wound down shortly thereafter and we all wandered back out into the muggy, oppressive New York summer. It was short and sweet, like the songs and stories we’d heard upstairs – just enough to make us all go out and say “yeah, I want to find more.” I finished Don’t Kiss Me this morning in my apartment to the sounds of The Magician’s Private Library – and put both down thinking that I can’t wait for the next Originals Series event.