Monday, May 24, 2010

Literary Debutantes

I am definitely not the debutante ball type.

But last Friday, the folks at One Story threw a very unique coming out party. Take an old factory turned creative space in Gowanus, mix up some emerging writers with literary luminaries, add a dj and dancing, throw in a guerilla theater performance and a silent auction with original art inspired by the stories, call it a Literary Debutante Ball: A Celebration of Emerging Writers - and you've got the recipe for a truly original benefit.

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the literary "debutantes" - writers whose work first appeared in an issue of One Story - who were escorted by their mentors. John Hodgman from The Daily Show, who authored the very first issue of One Story ("my second and last short story", he quipped), served as emcee.

During the evening, the short story Bar Joke, Arizona (issue #97) by "debutante" Sam Allingham (whose escort was none other than one of my favorite writers, Dan Chaon) was presented in two acts by Wingspace Theatrical Design. While the winner of the iPad raffle got an impromptu serenade by Hodgman, I got an original artwork by Linda Ganjian, inspired by Rachel Carpenter's The Qualifications of Regina White(One Story issue #9).

The boldface names were everywhere....though our little group did have some fun trying to convince ourselves who was who as a result of those highly unreliable book jacket photos. Is that or isn't that Dan Chaon? Well, it was and we missed our chance. Better luck with Jonathan Lethem, who we met while talking to Ben Greenman (issue #113), who's also got a book coming out soon. Early on, we chatted with "debutante" Amelia Kahaney (issue # 98) and were thrilled to find out that her mentor was Michael Cunningham ("running late, but he'll be here!"). By the time he arrived, we had unfortunately lost Amelia in the crowd. I had just finished the terrific new book American Subversive by David Goodwillie, so when I spied a very tall, good looking guy with a striking resemblance to the author photo, I couldn't resist saying hello. Turns out, he wrote some of the book right here in the Library's Green Alcove. NYSL members, old and new, are everywhere.

And there were other, stranger connections. My husband, a sportswriter, once played in an ice golf championship in Greenland. Wouldn't you know, in that crowd, we met a Danish writer who now calls Brooklyn home and was born and raised in Greenland.

So kudos to Hannah, Maribeth, and Tanya, our friends at One Story. It was a heck of a party!

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