The FSG Originals series (co-hosted by GQ and Flavorpill) returned to Studio X on Varick Street last night to celebrate the paperback release of Robin Sloane’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. Now, I have to admit: I have not read this book – YET. It’s on my list, it really truly is. But, you know how it is.
So I debated whether or not I would RSVP – because, I don’t know, I thought it might be weird! To have not read the book! David Rees would suddenly know, through the sheer force of his crazy, and put me on the spot and it’d be awkward – or something. And then I thought “hey wait, isn’t Mr. Penumbra a Picador book and not an FSG one? What gives?!” – and then the magic bit happened: a reference to paperback copies of the otherwise totally e-book Ajax Penumbra 1969, the second FSG Digital Original. And who doesn’t love exciting rare free books?
Things seemed a little hectic for the FSG team as the party was getting underway but everyone was very patient and relaxed as we all milled about the space with drinks and good conversation. There were, indeed, copies of the Penumbra-prequel to be snatched up – as well as fun temporary tattoos – and I was inwardly pleased to note the little FSG Originals tag on the spine. (ed. note: you guys at FSG, if you’re reading this – what are your secrets?! It’s so cool that you guys made this) And after a little more milling about, the trio of the evening took the stage.
And here’s where I have to interject something. Dear people of Earth: if you’re going to attend an event where there is to be a panel or discussion or performance or reading or Q&A or conversation… shut the fuck up and pay attention. I’m sorry, I cannot get over how rude a significant portion of the audience was tonight – talking not only at normal levels but building in that way that conversations in a party build sort of unnecessarily to the point that it feels like people are shouting? You know? I mean, I was maybe 30 feet from the speakers and there were times that I could barely hear them because the conversation in the background was so obnoxiously, rudely loud.
Which is a shame, because it was a pretty fun conversation. Rees kicked things off with a bit of a rapid-fire Q&A / battle session, where he pitted the guests against each other and himself on issues like Twitter, bookstores, e-books vs. real books, mp3s vs. records, whether or not anyone still calls things “mp3 players”, TED Talks vs Astrology… it was a delight. Mr. Sloane and Ms. Ramone were more than game, getting really into the debates and going so far as to provide for us an in-person personality test. Seriously – Cassie gave Robin this personality test that involved a cube, a ladder, some flowers, and a horse. And it was cool as hell.
I should add that Robin Sloan is a fascinating guy. He doesn’t have a cellphone these days (literally – this isn’t some “oh, I just have a flip-phone” thing. Dude doesn’t have a cell. Amazing.) despite having worked at Twitter. He also gave a fan a hug and has dreams where his greatest fears high-five him. That’s pretty damn cool, right?
The night closed out, as these nights do, with a few songs from Cassie Ramone, sitting atop a Fender amp and tricking out her acoustic guitar. She asked the crowd to sit – and they sat, which I thought was pretty a) surprising and b) cool. And while I have to admit that that sort of Brooklyn shoegaze isn’t really my jam, she had the place completely tuned in and quietly attentive. Considering how rowdy the place had been during the conversation, that alone was quite an accomplishment.
(showing off? maybe. sorry I’m not sorry…)