Monday night I went out to the first reading I've been to in a while. Desiree Cooper, whose story collection, Know the Mother, I had just reviewed, was reading. Earlier in the afternoon I also happened to hear her give a great interview on the local NPR station.
As is typical with readings at Literati, the introduction was fantastic--not too long, but not a simple announcement. Desiree had a great reading voice, was plenty loud for those of us who opted to sit in the back, and she had the ability to, without using voices, convey the different characters as she read her work.
The collection has many flash stories--and many of her flash stories are 750 words or less. This allowed her to read more than one or two complete works and not excerpts. She began with the opening story, "Witching Hour," which is a wonderful introduction to her collection.
Cooper then discussed the various types of women in her stories and how they were the focus of the collection. She brought up women that worked and then read"Ceiling," a story about a lawyer asking about maternity leave and hearing the phrase: 'If you wanted to have babies, why did you go to law school." This followed by "Cartoon Blue," a story about a lawyer who actually goes through the beginning of a miscarriage while on the phone with a client. It's a brutal story and maybe even more so having heard it read aloud.
Other works I remember Cooper reading include:
"Princess Lily," about a 14 year old who got pregnant while living in Japan and how she stayed with a Japanese family during the time of her 'condition;'
"Mourning Chair," a story from the point of view of a mother waiting for her daughter to come home (containing the line she knows she'd tell a cop if one came to her door---'She's the one with her heart beating in my pocket;'
She read "Soft Landing," sort of a fantasy story, and she also read "To the Bone," and I'm glad I was there to hear the introduction to this one as it pointed out a very specific element of repetition that I hadn't noticed that really works well.
It was a nice evening as Desiree Cooper lives locally and so the crowd mostly knew her, or her work. She even had a relative show up. She did a Q&A at the end and signed copies of the book and all in all it was a good reminder of why I used to attend a lot more readings than I have lately.