Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sam Lipsyte, Mike Doughty and Myself at Le Poisson Rouge : "The Fun Parts" Book Tour

Thanks for the heads up
Michael Goodson

 I was way too drunk for only 9 pm. Nonetheless, Tom said I won the Q&A. We were front table and center at the Sam Lipsyte "The Fun Parts" book event, which also featured Mike Doughty wearing a suit. Sweet and sexy Dave Hill, moderator, completed the trio on stage. 

A lumpy woman flailing her arms around in the corner earned the first slot in the Q&A. She began, "I write for a living also…" and paused dramatically, toying with the edge of a cream-colored scarf rakishly tossed over her head. It hung like vanilla frosting dripping off a danish.

Two hundred writers within earshot synchronized an intricate eye rolling sequence. I took the lull as an opportunity to order more bourbon.

Sam bustin' a move
It is my firm belief that there is no need to suffer the absence of self-awareness when you can rejoice in it. Accordingly, Writer Woman continued, "I write non-fiction since I'm a historian. But I imagine writing fiction must be a lot easier. You see, I have to ascribe to a reference standard."

There was a moment of dead silence. Sam said, "Jesus."

Dropping my empty rocks glass, I stared at Writer Woman in mute admiration and because I'd lost track of my arms. What glorious moxie. If you are going to hold a little celebration for yourself, you might as well bitch-slap the the person of the hour while you're at it. It's hard to imagine she could be so out of shape considering the number of times townspeople must chase her around with torches.

Sam replied, "My standards are I guess pretty low. I think it is not easy to get life on the page in language. What are you talking about? It's fucking hard."

I smirked. The judges would of course disqualify Writer Woman from the Q&A competition. She didn't even manage an actual question.

From there, the caliber of the blood lust advanced. A slender gentleman who had been full on arm wrestling with his girlfriend earlier in the evening muscled into the fray: "Elaine Blair wrote that your work makes misogyny seem literary in the same way that Rush Limbaugh makes fascism seem funny. What is your response?" 

Sam won that riposte. "Fascism… I'm still thinking about where I stand... It's not garbage juice sexy."

Tom whispered that I should definitely come up with a question.  It was good timing as I had just reached my blood alcohol pinnacle. 

I raised my hand and asked, "What is the hardest lesson to teach... but the most necessary for your students to learn." 

Right in the middle of my question, there at the dot-dot-dot ellipsis, I lost my spot in the time-space continuum. I felt a thousand eyes watch me explore a crease in the universe, for about an hour, while nearby air particles throbbed and convulsed like epileptic woodpeckers.

In real life, I'm pretty sure this did not happen. Luckily I had rehearsed my question a few times, in a very quiet voice that could barely be heard above the barroom scuttling. I think my subconscious mind saved my ass because no one appeared alarmed, like I'm assuming they would appear if they had recently observed someone disintegrate into a non-corporal entity orbited by spirit woodpeckers.

In spite of the mid-sentence drunken astral sprawl, my Q&A victory was assured after someone asked a follow up question to my question. Oh yeah. That's me, sticking the landing.

Sam Lipsyte answered me with one word, "Revisions." He said no one who is really a writer doesn't revise until they're at the point of ruining it. He quoted a writer he knows: "you never finish, you just turn away in disgust."

Mike Doughty in a suit
After a lot of back and forth dedicated to giving my seminal question its rightful due, Mike Doughty mentioned that he had finally completed a life goal. He finished reading Moby Dick and the key to his success was that he was able to read it on his phone. He said it was like reading a really long text.
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