How big of an event was last night's reading in Ann Arbor, a Hobart reading that took place in the basement at Ashley's? A) Steve Gillis was there, B) Aaron Burch (pictured to the left), the host of the event, felt the need (okay, really he just thinks it's cool) to use a megaphone to speak over the crowd noise while introducing the readers, and C) people came from Ohio.
Elizabeth Ellen, in the middle of her own touring for her wonderful story collection, Fast Machine, read a short story to lead things off.
She was followed by Eugene Cross, who came in from Chicago and read from his debut story collection, Fires of Our Choosing, for which Matt Bell was the editor--Eugene spent a fair amount of time explaining how Matt had made the book a better collection of better stories with better sentences.
Did I mention how crowded the basement was? Packed. Dwayne and Jessica from Absinthe: New European Writing were there. Kyle Minor was there. Robert James Russell of Midwestern Gothic was in attendance as well. So was David McLendon, mastermind behind Unsaid. Mary Gillis was there. David Andrew Speer was there. Joe Sacsteder was there
from EMU. Jessica Bell was there. Zack Ravas was there. I'm going to stop there because there were many more, some I most likely know and other I don't, but now I'm at that point where I could start to feel bad for not
remembering somebody I should.
Amanda Goldblatt read after Eugene Cross and even though she didn't read from her incredible Catalpa (go order it now--you'll thank me), instead reading from a work in progress, her work was still mesmerizingly good.
And Matt Bell wrapped things up reading from a co-written novel from his past (it's a bit shady so I'll leave the title behind, suffice to say there's a lot of writing that will remind you of Beckett) and a short section from his forthcoming novel, In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods (I was so damn close to having this title correct without looking--I for the "In").
Really the only negative to the evening is knowing that 30 to 36 hours after it was completed, that Matt and Jessica would be on their way to making Marquette, MI a better place.