Join me at the smallest, oldest, dirtiest and yet definitely most kick-ass bar in East Nashville this Thursday for the 3rd edition of the Poetry Sucks reading series. Organized by fellow East Nashvillian Chet Weise, this edition of the series will feature a host of characters from the neighborhood. I’ll be reading some new stuff (if only I can get through that sermon in the finale) and, more importantly, also featured will be all the fine folks noted on the flyer pictured here. Click through it for more from the artist, Rachel Briggs. Of particular note for connections to T2H is past Pitchfork Battalion teamer John Minichillo, whose novel The Snow Whale from Atticus we saw on some of those indies’ best-of lists for the year just past.
I just finished a novel by a more longtime and frequent T2Her, Floridian (former Flint, Michigander) Paul A. Toth, that I’ve been just floored by, given by the general lack of ink it’s gotten, far as I can tell (though I do see where USA Today of all places named it one of the best indies of 2011). The book, Airplane Novel, is a joyous read, the best of the 9/11 books — experimental in all the good ways (metafictional w/o being goofy, polyphonic via a quixotic omniscience to the narration but with a strong singular narrative consciousness in the end). And, ultimately, its humanity is its most important part.
It’s not an exactly simple task Toth has pulled off, given that the book is told from the point of view of the South Tower of the World Trade Center, a building — and one that, it is acknowledged quite early on by the narrator itself (or “himself,” given that the South Tower prefers to call itself “Cary Grant,” and the North Tower “Gary Cooper”), no longer exists in any physical sense, but of course. But even in death, the tower filters the consciousnesses that made its history, those of the humans — “spider monkeys,” from its perspective — having populated its floors, having operated the Radio Row shops uprooted by the its construction, having created the information that soars through its fiberoptics and still flits in jagged form through its own post-mortem version of consciousness (which Toth expertly re-creates in the end of the book, after the “big event,” the “you know what”…).
I won’t go farther into specifics here, but I’ll say that I think I can definitely recommend it as one of the three or four best books of 2011 (with particular segments of DFW’s The Pale King as well as Mickey Hess’ great Nostalgia Echo — more about that one later, as we’re publishing an excerpt in the next minisheet). In any case, I can’t recommend a book any more highly. Go pick up a copy — available in print and as an eBook (the Kindle edition is available for just $2.99).
Toth also had a fair amount of work in a special section of All Hands On, our 10th anniversary book out in the fall. You can order it here.
This vid’s of perhaps the most brilliantly suspenseful moment in the whole shebang — that’s May 18 at Whistler in Chicago at the So You Think You Have Nerves of Steel event; next reading in the series is this coming Sunday, June 20. The video’s of Palmer’s staring contest with a game, quite brave audience member, which preceded her reading, sees such developments as the audience singing ocular-themed tunes, lots of hemming and hawing from Harold Ray (for a quite excellent pic of Ray, check out the flyer here). The vid is below, and for more, visit THE2NDHAND’s YouTube channel.
Also this weekend, Friday, at the East Nashville Portland Brew (1921 Eastland) for those of you in town, the Brick series event features MTSU prof and excellent fiction writer John Minichillo, a Twitter storyteller reading from his quite more expansive novel in Motke Dapp, and one of my personal faves, of course, Susannah Felts (I live with her, to state the situation mildly, though, so I’m partial). Hope to see you there. For full details, visit this page. The all-Nashville crew, including myself, will join together at the end of the reading for a round-robin of prose pieces, each contribution beginning with the phrase “After the flood…”
Now for that vid. Enjoy. THE GREAT STARE-OFF: