Scene Report – Harper’s presents Love: A Rebuke.


I found out late last minute that Sam Lipsyte was reading at Housing Works so I dropped everything and trekked through 91 inches of slush to see one of my favorite authors because events like these are the reason you move to New York. Heidi Julavits and Colson Whitehead were there too, along with some big wheels from Harper’s. Like I said, this is the reason.


The man himself, who doesn’t have a website, which kind of pisses me off. Why are authors so slow to adopt technology? Is it because updating real-time information is so antithetical to polishing and crafting sentences and stories? The complete opposite of what they strive to do in the first place? Or do they just think it’s a waste of time? Whatever. All I know is his reading made me want to buy The Ask even more than I already do. And that I got no business writing if it’s not going to come out as good as his.


Colson Whitehead has good stage presence and delivery but his set-up veered dangerously close to being overly complicated. Heidi Julavits read a story that I feel like I would have loved had I read it my room, but didn’t translate all that great to a reading.


Pop quiz:

You are at a reading with some of the most well-known and influential people in the New York literary scene and you only have one copy of your magazine to give away. Do you give it to…

a) Sam Lipsyte

b) Colson Whitehead

c) Heidi Julavits

d) one of the big wheels at Harper’s

e) Justin Taylor

The answer is…

Trick question. You put on your coat and you leave immediately to go eat Thai food and catch up on Lost, because you have been holed up in your apartment for days and lack of human contact has devolved your social skills into that of a pubescent PC gamer and speaking to other humans at this point would only be an exercise in making the both parties uncomfortable. And first impressions are important.


Fucking February. You may make it through the holidays with some positivity still in tact, you may even coast through January with a little hitch in your step, but fucking February is always waiting to choke it right out of you. And if you make it through Valentines then you are simply not human.

On a positive note: How about the Housing Works Bookstore? Pretty amazing, right? Every dollar from book sales to food and beverage go to homeless men and women living with aids. All the merchandise is donated, all employees are volunteers. New favorite book store.

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