Thursday, October 21, 2004

Happy Ending Reading Series/Happy Ending Bar/Oct. 20, 2004

WHAT? She's reviewing a reading series? Don't those literary fucks get enough chatter on their own overblown blogs?

Simmer down.

The Happy Ending Reading series, put on by the saucy Amanda Stern, is different than all that scratchy throat Barnes and Noble bullshit. Stern curates the evening so that there's reading and music and hopefully mayhem.

This night's gathering was lacking in mayhem, but made up for it in other ways.
First off, one of the readers was Matthew Sharpe. He used to be my fiction teacher and now I kind of stalk him. I really think you should go out and get his recent novel The Sleeping Father. It's about this overly precocious, overly obnoxious kid named Chris Schwartz. If you are reading this blog, you are or were Chris Schwartz. Click here for the section Sharpe read last night from the novel (you have to sign in to Amazon to access it), the part where Chris is supposed to be giving a class report on Paul Robeson and by accident slips a Nirvana disc into the player instead of the Robeson Smithsonian anthology.

Also please note that Sharpe has an interesting publishing industry story that mirrors the music industry stories we hear so much about, except in this one, Sharpe clobbers the Man. (You could probably substitute "Wilco" for "Sharpe" and "Nonesuch" for "Soft Skull" in the following story.) When Sharpe handed in the manuscript of The Sleeping Father to the Big Publisher that had put out his previous stuff, the Big Publisher rejected it, saying it wouldn't sell. Sharpe then went to indie Soft Skull press and sold it to them. And guess what? It's sold like black tar H in the East Village. Gazillions. Well, maybe not THAT much, but lots. It was picked by the Today show for its book club and everything. So ha ha ha on them.

The musical guest for this evening of cross-genre entertainment was a singer-songwriter from Ireland named Mark Geary. Mark is short and tweedy and absolutely adorable. The thing about these s-s types is that they can win you over simply with their personalities (see Tegan and Sara). But is that enough? Even though I was there with Mark, there the whole way with his stories and his plucky little songs and his Irish accent, the reality is that there's not enough to set him apart from other talented s-sers.

He has a nice voice, his songs were catchy enough to inspire a sing-a-long and you'd definitely want him to bring his guitar to your backyard BBQ. I was touched, but I wasn't marked. The guy and his guitar? That guy has to haunt you. Or at least me.