AWP–the yearly conference put on by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs–is like South By Southwest crossed with Burning Man, but for writers. The annual meet-up is going on now through March 1 in Seattle, and writers not in attendance may be experiencing the same sort of missing out on the party sensations that techies, musicians and fantastical weirdos feel when they’re not in Austin or the salt flats of Nevada with their respective tribes.
But just because you aren’t drinking free wine and eating free cheese in the vicinity of your favorite writers or flirting with that MFA professor who always said you had talent doesn’t mean you have to mope around New York City. There are plenty of exciting literary happenings taking place this week; here are a few.
The Soundtrack Series: TV Theme Songs at Le Poisson Rouge; Thursday Feb. 27, 8pm; 158 Bleecker St., West Village
For anyone who wishes they could have gone to some of the early MOTH shows before they became wildly popular, The Soundtrack Series has a comparable vibe. The main difference is that each story told at The Soundtrack Series revolves around a song and the storytellers’ true-life associations with that song. Dana Rossi hosts the show like a pro–a really animated and energetic pro, and she always brings in some amazing contributors. The Soundtracks Series events always have a theme and this time around, it’s TV theme songs! What could possibly be more fun? Personally, I think I could write a novella just about that guitar twang in the middle of the Growing Pains theme song.
Gordon Lish at McNally Jackson; Thursday Feb. 27 8pm; 52 Prince St., SoHo
If you don’t know who Gordon Lish is, this recent New Yorker profile represents him well. Bottom line, he’s become the most acknowledged fiction-writing teacher and workshop leader of our time (maybe period). He’s worked with many of the current greats and has edited some fantastic collections. In writing circles he’s seen as something of a guru–maybe the Lorne Michaels of the fiction world. Everyone has a Lish impression or a funny story from one of his workshops. However, recently the conversation about Lish has turned to his fiction and how he’s somewhat unsung as a writer. This event at McNally Jackson will include a reading from his newest collection Goings published by OR books–a publishing house that’s proved to be a great advocate for the unsung.
Jeff VanderMeer at WORD, Friday, Feb. 28, 7:30 pm 126 Franklin St., Greenpoint
New York Times Book Review, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times contributor Jeff VanderMeer will read from his debut novel Annihilation- the first installment of what he calls The Southern Reach trilogy which is being described as Lost and World War Z-esque and was recently published by FSG Originals.
Improvisers with credits from The Onion, Second City and this American Life perform their take on poems read by poets from different walks of life. The result is funny, heartfelt and rather strange.
Rachel Shukert is a pop-culture genius and contributor to Tablet. Her debut Starstruck was published last year. Her second book is entitled Love Me and it takes place in 1930’s Hollywood. Apparently the Oscars play a pivotal role and the plot and thus the party will function as something of an Oscar pre-show.
At this point your friends will be back home and your AWP depression will have blown over but this event is not to be missed. Flatscreen scribe Adam Wilson releases his second book, a story collection called What’s Important is Feeling. The title story was selected for Best American Short Stories 2013. Taking that and the utter originality and power of Flatsceen into account, this book and event are not to be missed.