Rumpus One Year Later.


Went to the Rumpus/HTMLgiant thing last night. It was at this kinda fancy place on the boarder of Chinatown and LES. I said hello to Stephen. I went to shake his hand and he offered me a hug. He said he linked us yesterday. I said he was correct and I thanked him. Then I said it was good to see him and I walked away. He started speaking and then asked everyone to sit on the floor.


So we did.


This is the lady who runs the NY end of things on the Rumpus. She was wearing an amazing dress but she was very uncomfortable in front of the microphone.


This is Justin Taylor. It’s very strange seeing people, who are previously known to you only over the internet, in real life. This was an entire night of these encounters.


Tao Lin. Same could be said for people whose books you’ve read. He quit halfway through cause his throat was bugging him.


This girl sang Niko Case songs. I looked over and Tao Lin was asleep awake.


This is a terrible shot of Deb Olin Unferth.


This is a not-as-terrible-but-still-unsatisfactory shot of Deb Olin Unferth. Which is unfortunate, because I love Deb Olin Unferth.


It was in a very strange bar/restaurant place where they decided to put the stage at the top of the stairs. Which meant if you wanted to go get a drink you were out of luck if the show started up when you tried to get back to your place, and you were forced to watch strange images projected onto the wall of the bar and imagine they were accompanying the stories being told.


Tao Lin, Alina Simone and Stephen Elliot read a transcript of a facebook chat she had with a complete stranger.


And then there was Jeff Lewis. Who I used to not like, but then respected him quite a bit more after seeing him live.


He did an illustrated, A cappella song explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis. So… lifelong fan. He hit the nail on the head when he said he’d never played a gig where he’d acted as goalkeep by keeping people from getting their drinks at the bar.

Also, I met David Peak and Greg Gerke in real life. They are cool dudes.

Definitely worth the five bucks but it was a very strange night. I was expecting a more spirited celebration like the last Rumpus event I went to. It was at times a regular old reading, at times exciting and funny. Overall, I was more excited to see my internet friends in real life. Readings in New York should never, ever, be boring. There was one girl who sighed through her reading. If you are not excited about your work, what makes you think I will be?



  1. Rozalia says:

    Hi. Thank you for attending last night’s event. The name of “the lady” is Rozalia Jovanovic. As the New York Editor and the host of the party, I’d also like to thank you for the compliments on my dress. Though I must say these pictures present a pretty poor representation of the space, Broadway East, which is beautiful and intimate, which many many people made a point of telling me. And Deb, who I also greatly admire, said, “I have to say that was one of the best events I’ve been to in a long time.”

    As per the video art installation, the silent videos were not meant to be illustrative of the work being read (I find it interesting that that would be your expectation). Indeed they were works of art unto themselves meant to serve as an artful backdrop in a space separate from that where the readings and performances were being held so as not to be too distracting. And actually, the picture you posted here is one of my favorites of the whole selection. Nice! And let me know who “forced” you to watch the “strange” images which were on a screen high up on one wall. No one else mentioned this coercion.

    And while you say at some points it felt like a “regular old reading,” from what I gathered from the many people I talked to, this was far from it. Thank you for attending though and I wish you had had a better time.

  2. Chris says:

    Hey Rozalia! Sorry I neglected to mention your name. I wrote this last night directly after I got in from the event last night cause I had to wake up early today and do a bajillion different things leaving no time for blogging. I was tired, and a little bit drunk, and in my impatience to write a proper post I mat come off as a bit blunt and maybe downright snarky at points. And for that I apologize. What was meant to come off as “just the facts” probably reads a bit dickish. So, the rundown:

    – the “lady” comment: my apologies. Young woman seems like the proper thing to say but it wasn’t coming to mind at the time.

    – the venue: yes, the pictures suck. Canon point-and-shoots are not known for their stunning prrformace in low light. It was a very beautiful and intimate bar and restaraunt. However I have to say that it was a bit of an akward space for a reading. The stage was at the only opening to the bar that I was aware of at the time. I feel a venue for a reading needs a bit more of an established stage.

    – the video: I didn’t think it was part of the event since it was going on before the entertainment started. Just thought it made for an interesting mash-up to look at while people were reading.

    – being “forced”: what I did feel forced to do was wait on the stairs while Deb Olin Unferth finished her reading. I felt it woulda been a bit rude to come stumbling over her shoulder with a tray full of drinks while she was trying to tell a story. Linda bummed I missed her cause she is the best.

    – “regular old reading” : in college I went to a shit ton of readings, most of them student readings, most of them boring as shit. I got fed up with it and am now I’m of the mind that if you’re going to be reading in front of people it better be engaging and it better be entertaining. I know that sounds like s dirty word, but if I’m at a bar and someone gets up on stage I want to see them perform. If they wantto read out loud I feel like a better venue for that is a library or a bookstore. I crave spirited readings. I only saw a couple last night.

    – “a better time”: I had a good time! It was great seeing all these people I read and respect in one place. Like i said, I was tired and not feeling it when I wrote this and I confess, it was a bit half assed. Sorry if I sounded like a dick, I know you work real hard putting these things together and that deserves commendation that I forget to mention before. Thank you for putting on an event. In a world where less and less people give a shit about books, it’s a little petty for me to be nitpicking something that’s such a rarity these days. I respect The Rumpus a lot, I read it obsessively, and I want to come to lots more events in the future.

    It’s friday and I’m at a bowling alley. I couldn’t stop thinking about this comment so I left my friends to respond. I feel like I said my piece so I’m going to have a beer and enjoy my life.

  3. Rozalia says:

    Hi Chris. Thanks for your reply. Admittedly there were some set-backs to holding an event in a different kind of space, one that is more intimate and unique that I haven’t worked with before. But I think the overriding response from people I spoke with afterward was that the space lent itself to a sort of salon-like atmosphere, one that nurtured and enabled the kind of spontaneous performances and interactions between artists, (such as the impromptu performance by Tao Lin, Stephen Elliott and Alina Simone), which might not have happened at a larger, less personal concert space, and which I was hoping would happen. And it was that vibe that I felt was overlooked by your piece. I appreciate your understanding that these types of events do take a lot of planning, especially getting the killer line-up we had. Striking the right balance with all of the coefficients required is difficult but important, as you noted, especially with the killer line-up we had. But thanks for your frank feedback. I do appreciate it and hope to see you at the next event.

  4. Rozalia says:

    Did I mention we had a “killer line-up.”

  5. davidpeak says:


    great meeting you–glad we finally got to have a few beers together.

    i think you made some good points here. it’s natural to expect more from a reading. i felt like rivka galchen, particularly, rushed through her story, sounded bored. and for someone who’s been to 40-50 readings, it was uncomfortable for me. there should be some standard of audience awareness, audience consideration. writing on the page is one thing, reading is another.


    hi. i don’t know you. thanks for hosting the event, which was a lot of fun for me.

    with regards to the “salon-like” environment–okay. it was a beautiful space. but i agree with chris that it wasn’t totally conducive to a reading where alcohol is being served. is that your fault? not really. did it ruin anyone’s night? probably not.

    it’s not really worth getting defensive over.

  6. Susana Mai says:

    A very killer line-up. I wish I’d known about the reading!

  7. tao lin says:

    just want to ‘put it out there,’ due to possible negative thoughts people might be having about me that might affect my life, that i’m 99.9% sure i didn’t sleep at the reading

    at one point i sat with really bad posture, it might’ve seemed from certain angles like i was sleeping when i did that

    thank you for your time

  8. L. says:

    This was fun times

  9. chris says:

    Rozalia: KILLER line-up!

    Tao: Damn, I’m sorry man. It was dark and I assumed too much. It was shitty of me to do that. I apologize. I’ve stricken it from the post. Fuck, I write these blogs and assume no one but my buddies back home are going to read them. Not that that’s an excuse.

    For the last year or so that I’ve been blogging on this site I’ve been toiling away in relative obscurity (which, in the small press lit world, is pretty damn obscure), trying desperately to get people to pay attention to what we do here. Somewhere along the line I must have resigned myself to the idea that no one I write about on this blog will ever read it. And that apparently manifested itself in the voice of a bitter man writing bitter things.

    Strange. And not cool. At all.

    And I deeply regret that this is a lot of peoples first impression of our publication. Negative vibes are NOT what we’re about. At least for the other 364 days of the year.

    In the future, as my readership grows and I attend more events, I need to learn to take more responsibility for the things that I write. Definitely did not intend for this little report to incite a firestorm of activity (more than five comments on anything I post on this site constitutes a firestorm, btw). These are kinda fucked up circumstances for my site to be getting this much attention. Careful what you wish for…

  10. pablo says:

    Rozalia- it’s okay. you weren’t that bad a host. It was fun to see the real-life you after encountering your writing online. I especially enjoyed your piece on the Brooklyn Book Fair!
    the event was fun. the 200 people that came on a January night to wait an hour for the event to start all had a good time. the majority even blogged about it. As the NY editor of the Rumpus, you might be able to ascertain if all this bzz has ushered in more traffic.
    I had a bad day and I’m trying to let go of the physical manifestations of emotional pain in my chest as I breathe in and out deeply.

  11. Observer says:

    Jesus Rozalia, defensive much? I was at the event too and Chris’s summary seemed about right to me. And Chris, you didn’t come across as snarky, or a dick. Don’t let the mean literary lady intimidate you!

  12. chris says:

    I made some critical comments that I haven’t retracted and that I still stand by. What I’m retracting is my tone. It was flippant, assumptive, and it dismissed the hard work of someone I’ve never met before. Sometimes offending strangers is a stark inevitability of life, but that’s was not what I was trying to do in this instance. And more to the point, it just wasn’t me.

  13. Brigid says:

    I was there too–finally blogged about it this morning. I think everyone had a good time–I did hear some people express discontent with the venue, but they made everything work, so it wasn’t an issue for me. Everyone was friendly, and they had this great dark beer on draft downstairs that no one could identify, including the bartender and the waitstaff.

    I only stayed for about half of the event, as I had a 3-hour commute back to where I live, but I really enjoyed it–all of the readings held my attention, and I thought Diane Louvel (the Niko Case lady) had a lovely voice. I hope Tao Lin gets over his cold, or whatever was causing him to cough. I still enjoyed his reading, and plan to buy “Richard Yates”.

    Oh yes–and maybe you realize this now, but there was a staircase in the back of the room that led to the bar (or to the exit if you needed to leave). Initially I thought we were blocked in too, but I couldn’t imagine that the restaurant would pass fire code if there was only one staircase.

    Thanks for posting the photos–the glare does tend to give everyone within the flash-bulb range white eyes, so it looks a little like Rumpus Party of the Damned, but that is definitely a “feature” of those cameras. Hope I can make it to the next Rumpus event.

  14. What an amazing looking event. I wish I could have been there. I enjoyed reading your recap and I didn’t think the tone was harsh (like, I mean, I didn’t even get that you didn’t think it was a good show), though I can understand why someone who worked on it would want to clarify things.

  15. Sean says:


    Man, not coolish. Use the stroke-through thing so people like me could read what you really wrote.

    The bar thing would have annoyed me.

    readings are always hit and miss and I always argue to read something brief, funny, sexy, something but what to read at reading discussion has been more than disco so I will stop now.

    Interesting post and comments here

  16. Muffin Man says:

    I’m totally jacking it to this post, so Chris, you’re doing something right homeboy.

  17. Alec N says:

    For what it’s worth, Chris, I don’t think your tone was dismissive at all. I wouldn’t worry about this post.

  18. guest says:

    Man Jeffrey Lewis was really awesome! I still have his Mosquito Murderer rap stuck in my head.

    Thanks for the post and pictures. Like you, I thought it was neat to see so many people whose work I know from online in the real world.

    I thought the space was really beautiful and a neat change of pace from your normal venue. It was indeed a little awkward getting beer during the reading segments though, I agree. But Brigid is right that there was a staircase in the back where you could go through some dungeon like passage to the bar area, which was really beautiful. An interesting space even for restaurant.

    Oh and Deb Olin Unferth rocked it.

  19. wish I could’ve been there, too, but I’m on the left coast.

    gotta say, though, I can picture this gig: the good and the arguably less so. thanks for the review, chris.

    I’m with you 100% on this point: “if you’re going to be reading in front of people, it better be engaging and it better be entertaining…. I want to see them perform…. I crave spirited readings.”

    my two cents: if writers can’t — or for whatever reason aren’t able or willing to — read with presence (just like musicians who shoegaze or choke live) then they should stay home or send a proxy. I’m not talking gimmicks or acrobatics… just living energy… from the words and the reader.

    can I get a witness?

  20. heavener says:

    Sean: Point taken on the strikethrough. Retract is a bad choice of words. I didn’t actually retract anything except for the line about Tao. More like I apologized.

    Muffin Man: Thank you for jacking off to my website. I’m glad we could make you horny.

    Alec: I’m not really worried about it. I’m just not used to all this attention. For a long time I felt like I was putting on a rock show for my bedroom wall only to turn around and there’s an audience standing in my doorway. Which, I guess is the reason I started trying to put out fires that may or may not have existed in the first place. I feel kinda dirty using negativity to boost hits and gain attention (all together now: “then wtf are you doing on the internet?”) I guess I was just trying to keep things civil and cordial. I hope we succeeded.

    Thanks everyone for checking out this post and making comments. It’s awesome to hear from yall and get your thoughts on readings.

  21. Greg Gerke says:

    Nice to meet you Chris and thanks for the issue. It’s fantastic. Man, you try some reportage and everybody (not everybody) goes after you.

    Lydia Davis is reading Thursday at NYU. I’m getting people together. You should come out!

Leave a Reply