Hello, I am Zin! And last night I finally ! got to see Steve Almond read in person!
My Zoetrope buddy Jeanne (Hello, Jeanne!) emailed me early last week to tell me Steve was doing workshops and a reading here at the Space Gallery right down the street from me! I think it is a riot that someone else, who lives almost in Rhode Island, has to tell me what is going on two blocks away! But that is how it sometimes goes!
Jeanne was taking one of the workshops, but I have not been writing fiction lately, and I am not really at the Steve Almond level yet, and so did not think the workshop would be a good idea. I wanted to go to the reading, so I met Jeanne and her daughter (who we discovered some time ago lives in my apartment building, how is that for coincidence) at the reading that night.
He is extremely funny (but only if you are on the left side of the aisle, I would guess; you can judge for yourself from the collection of online essays on his website under “Patriotic Writings”) and read from his teeny-tiny self-published books, like This Won’t Take But A Minute, Honey which I have (and which I carry around to read on busses and in waiting rooms and wherever because it is so wonderful) and Bad Poetry (which I do not have but I think I will need to get) and Letters From People Who Hate Me (ditto on do not have) – this one has some of the best come-backs to obscene hate mail because they show the letter writer for what he or she is, a maniac without the ability to think, and make a larger point about the issue at hand at the same time. Like the guy from the Space Gallery who introduced him said: Some funny people will tell you a fart joke; Steve Almond will tell you a fart joke, and follow it up with a penis joke, but the penis joke will turn and venture into an area of utmost vulnerability. That is exactly what he does!
These books are only available at readings (or you can order them through the Harvard Book Store). So I should have bought them! I could have gotten them signed! I am an idiot! But I get frazzled when I am out in public, so many things to think about – do I have a normal look on my face or am I imitating The Scream? Am I singing or making other funny noises? Am I standing ok or am I cowering in terror? I do these things a lot at home so I worry I might do them without realizing it when I am out in public. I did not want to embarrass Jeanne! So I did not think about practical things.
After he read a bit, he took questions and someone asked about the problem he had with Fox following his resignation from Boston University after they hired Condaleezza Rice to speak at Commencement (this is thoroughly covered in (Not That You Asked): Rants, Exploits and Obsessions which I also have; they were running the clip he made about that adventure) and admitted “I have not done any research on this” and Steve joked around about feeling like he had to do research before attending a reading (I did do some research. I had my entire Steve Almond collection in my rucksack. But I did not tell anyone. They would have thought I was strange. Am I?). He is a very funny speaker. Jeanne said the workshop was excellent as well. And I obviously love his writing, especially his non-fiction and flash.
My only complaint with the reading was that it was too short! Maybe 45 minutes. But he gave a noon-to-3pm workshop, a 3:30 to 6:30 workshop, and a 7:30 reading, so I am thinking, that is a full day! And it was free, after all (the reading was free; the workshops were $100 which is not bad at all for someone of his calibre). And most people have very short attention spans. Me, I like to go somewhere and plant myself for a while, preferably in a dim secluded corner where no one will see me or ask me anything like “Why are you hiding here in this dark secluded corner?”, so I am just not really made for the short-attention-span lifestyle!
But it was a fun reading and I am very glad I went – thank you Jeanne for cluing me in and for meeting me there!