The Subway

By Luke Kelly-Clyne

Essay

Above ground, I’m human.

I say “excuse me” when I need to squeeze by.  “Sorry” when I err. “Please” always and “thank you” until I sicken myself. “How can I help? How can I help?” I never gawk. Men, women, and children are my confidantes, my countrymen, and my heart beats well with each untroubled step they take.


Since performing at the NYC International Fringe Festival in 2007, LA poet/spoken word artist and TNB contributor Rich Ferguson has made it his mission to once again return to the city to perform.

This coming week (April 20th – 23rd) Ferguson will be back, performing three shows in NYC (one solo, and two others with musician, Bo Blount).


After a whistle stop tour of my hometowns of LA, San Diego and NYC, I’m back in my other home, Petersham, NSW, back teaching, writing. The dog, cat and kids. My office in the upstairs hallway. My beloved is here, and an indispensable best friend, family both there and here, my livelihood (for the present) is here, but my characters, my soul-mates, are there.

Not as horny a dilemma as you think. I drive on the left but glance to the right. I watch SBS News, but hear CBS 8. I eavesdrop on the conversation behind me on the train (a couple of call center managers talking about ‘escalations’ and ‘dehiring’) and give a SoCal edge to their antipodean jive. As the train winds out into the suburbs I see the two story timber homes of Brooklyn rather than the single-story brick bungalows so prevalent here. The boarded up bookstores are the same everywhere, as are the basement dildo stores and thrift shops and Laundromats and pawn stores, but instead of VIP Lounges I see gun stores, and smell Mexican instead of Thai, slices instead of pies and great vats of undrinkable swill instead of aromatic shots of espresso. And water water everywhere. I imagine the azure Southern Pacific washing up on the silver sands of southern California and see frozen lakes instead of mangrove swamps.

It’s a little scary, a little schizo, and I wonder what I’m missing. I think about Flaubert and Faulkner, neither of whom were entirely where they wanted to be and I also think of Stephen King who transformed Flatline, Maine into a febrile field of dreams and whose words stare back at me from a post-it on my monitor.

YOU CAN DO THIS.


Attention, NYC-area peeps:

Jonathan Evison, executive editor of this fine literary magazine and New York Times best selling author, brings his book tour to the Big Apple next week.

Sunday evening, March 6, he joins the great Caroline Leavitt — both of Algonquin, the TNB Book Club, and the aforementioned Times best seller list — at KGB’s famed Sunday Night Reading Series.

And on Monday, March 7, Evison holds court with two of my favorite writers in all the land, James P. Othmer and Marcy Dermansky, at Book Court in Brooklyn.

After that, the tour goes, um, west of here (eventually).


[photo by Kerry McCombs]

Sex (I’m a…)

By Greg Olear

The Feed

Attention, New Yorkers,

On Thursday evening, September 16 — one week from today — I will be appearing at the famed “In the Flesh” erotic reading series, hosted by the inimitable Rachel Kramer Bussel.

The theme is “Virgin Night,” but I’ve been assured that Frank N. Furter lookalikes will not be pelting toast at newbies in attendance, nor will anyone be sacrificed to the dark gods.

Here are a few reasons to show up:

1.  The reading series, a mainstay on the Lower East Side, is winding down.  Because all good things must come.  To an end.  Must come to an end.  There are only four of these left.  So if you ever plan to indulge your deepest desires, now is the time.

2.  Past TNB readers at this event include Gina Frangello and Jillian Lauren. This makes me the first unsexy TNBer to appear.

3.  Joining me on the docket will be Marcy Dermansky, author of the fantastic Bad Marie (I read it. It really is fantastic.  I’m not saying that just because Gina liked it).

4. I will be reading a post that will never grace the pages of TNB.  Not something I want on the Internet. Nor will there be a recording. So if you want to hear my sort-of-sexy, sort-of-funny, sort-of-true tale, you have to show up at Happy Ending Lounge on Thursday.

5.  Free admission.

6.  Free cupcakes.

Here are the deets:

IN THE FLESH EROTIC READING SERIES
VIRGIN NIGHT
September 16, 2010, 7:30 pm – 10 pm
AT HAPPY ENDING LOUNGE, 302 BROOME STREET, NYC
(B/D to Grand, J/M/Z to Bowery, F to Delancey or F/V to 2nd Avenue, )
Between Forsyth & Eldridge. Look for the hot pink awning that says “XIE HE Health Club.”
Admission: Free
Happy Ending Lounge: 212-334-9676

Featuring Logan Belle, author of a forthcoming burlesque romance series, erotica writer Megan Butcher (contributor, Best Bondage Erotica 2011), novelist Marcy Dermansky (Bad Marie), novelist Lee Houck (Yield), Greg Olear (Totally Killer), Moshe Shulman (“The Wise One”) and Can’t Help the Way That I Feel: Sultry Stories of African American Love, Lust and Fantasy editor Lori Bryant-Woolridge and contributors Sasha James and Erika J. Kendrick (Appetites, Confessions of a Rookie Cheerleader). Hosted by Rachel Kramer Bussel (Fast Girls, Please, Sir, Please, Ma’am). 100 free copies of Sexis Magazine will be distributed. Free Baked by Melissa cupcakes, candy and chips will be served. This is the countdown to the final In The Flesh December 16th so don’t miss a very special night!


These are the moments in time that stand out when I first think of New York City.

– hearing the street vendor who looked like he should have been breaking legs for Jimmy Hoffa, with the rich, Bronx-rounded voice of Pennywise the Clown, selling, of all things, bubble guns. He breaks certain words through the middle, like a boat bridge opening to let the river of people hustling along the sidewalk through underneath. As it just so happens, I commit his speech to memory instantly.

Come out this Friday to hear wondrous author Kate Zambreno read from her new novel at Bluestockings Radical Books in the LES.

Friday, April 30 at 7pm at Bluestockings, 72 Allen Street, New York, NY

O Fallen Angel is an American triptych inspired by Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion,” also a grotesque homage to Mrs. Dalloway. She writes the blog Frances Farmer Is My Sister, which will inspire a collection of essays to be published by Semiotext(e)’s Active Agents series in Fall 2011. She is also an editor at Nightboat Books.

Here’s a blurb from SPD:

“Haunting and visionary, Kate Zambreno’s O FALLEN ANGEL examines the suburban family with ruthless elegance. Here is a novel, done and undone, a brazen mirror reflecting the 21st century.”
—Lily Hoang

A: A Night Together!

Okay, there’s no real joke here. But there is a great event coming to NYC on April 6th, cosponsored by The Rumpus, Tin House Magazine, and Flavorpill. “A Night Together” features authors Sam Lipsyte, Colson Whitehead, and Lorelei Lee (yes, THAT Lorelei Lee),This American Life’s Starlee Kine and comedians Michael Showalter and Dave Hill. It will also have music by Jeffrey Lewis and Alina Simone.

The preorder price for tickets is ten bucks, but if you tweet, blog or post about the event to your Facebook page, you’ll get four dollars off. Now, I’m not great at maths, but I think that’s 6 dollars. Which–again, this is shaky–comes out to a dollar per featured person, not including the musicians. Rock solid, if you ask me.

So you should really think about doing that posting thing. And if you don’t live in NYC, you should post anyway, and like give your discounted ticket to someone you know in the city. Because shit, you totally owe them a favor. To get your discount, post a comment here, linking to your tweet/blog/etc.

Originally published by Press Media Group and appeared in the 24 February 2010 issue of The Lynchburg Ledger newspaper and subsequent issues. Photo by Amber S. Clark.

Photo by Amber S. Clark

Read the reviewPretend this is either an episode of Charlie Rose or a New Yorker podcast and I am a bewhiskered Deborah Treisman with an exorbitant amount of testosterone. For those of you just joining us, I am talking with New York based novelist, Greg Olear, author of the murder mystery/social satire Totally Killer (Harper, 2009). And by talking, I mean I e-mailed Mr. Olear and he didn’t report me to the FBI for stalking.

Tonight there will a release reading for my book of prose poetry, In This Alone Impulse, at KGB Bar in NYC at 7pm. In celebration of its polyvocal soul, I’ve gathered a number of friends and fellow literarians to help me read from the book, including:

Lincoln Michel, James Yeh, John Madera, John Dermot Woods, Rozalia Jovanovic, Nicolle Elizabeth, Todd Zuniga, James J. Williams III, Terese Svoboda, Emma Straub, Sasha Graybosch, Nick Bredie, Nora Jean Lange, Joe Sullivan, Peter Schwartz, Timmy Waldron, and Brianna Colburn.

All outstanding writers in their own right, I really look forward to hearing how they give voice to these poems. The reading will also feature videos from people across the country, including BL Pawelek, Ryan W. Bradley, and AD Jameson. I’ve personally been recording videos for these poems for a while now, and I encourage you to watch one or two here. (Want to make one of your own? I’ll send you a copy of the manuscript and let you have at it!)

Here’s a link to the event listing. Please come, or suggest it to a local friend!


Originally printed by Press Media Group and appeared in the 17 February 2010 issue of The Lynchburg Ledger newspaper.

Apart from William Melvin Kelley’s 1967 black comedy dem, I have never read a book so swiftly in my born day as Totally Killer by Greg Olear (Harper, 2009). I’ll be frank—though I usually just go by Jeff, Jeffro, or Jeffrey, depending on how well you know me—you don’t need to read any further than the next line to know my true feelings regarding this novel: it is absolutely amazing. Stop reading this column right now and high tail it to Barnes & Noble or log on to Amazon.com and snag a copy.


The Nervous Breakdown’s Literary Experience, NYC will soon be bloomin’!

Mark your calendars now for Friday, March 26th for readings from your favorite TNB writers, centered around the theme: GROWING PAINS!!

Friday, March 26, 2010
Happy Ending Lounge
302 Broome Street

Doors open: 7:00pm
Program begins: 8:00pm

Cover: FREE*!!


JR: The following story is something I wrote for my first public reading, which took place Friday December 11th at Happy Endings Lounge in New York City.  The main character of this story works for a supermarket chain as a district manager, and this is her first visit to one of her stores during the holiday season.

OFFENDER by Jason Rice

Marlo listened to the Super Foods store manager, whose name she wouldn’t be able to remember if he wasn’t wearing a nametag, tell her that this was a good employee, someone who had been with the store for years.  Marlo didn’t nod her head; she just focused her eyes on Frank’s.  He was treading water and they both knew it.

“It was a mistake.  She just put the change in the tip jar.”

“Frank.  It was an unfortunate mistake.   She did it without asking.  Now we have someone out there in the world that thinks we employ thieves.  Do you see the perception this creates?” Marlo tried to keep her voice steady; this was Frank’s problem now.   She didn’t discipline hourly employees; she just made phone calls to store managers when complaints came into the home office.  It was a coincidence that she was dealing with this.

“She is very sorry.”

“Sorry is for old people and children.  The customer is now going to tell anyone who listens that our store ripped them off.  Would you come here if you heard that?”

Marlo stood up and tucked her cell phone into the inside pocket of her leather jacket.   She remembered standing in front of the mirror in her bedroom; she’d left before the sun came up.   She thought the white corduroy pants might be a mistake, the Versace belt certainly could have been reconsidered, but that decision was already set in stone.   The night before she laid out her outfit for a day of protocol enforcement.

Marlo had a list as long as her arm, each store manager seemingly overwhelmed by the business of keeping their stores running properly during the holiday season.  She thought about the mistakes she was going to have to correct and it made her mind wander.

“This is a learning opportunity for you, Frank.  Please.  We can’t put spilled milk back in the bottle, but we can, you know, stop it from happening again.” She patted him on the shoulder.  This poor man, she thought to herself.  The weight of this place was crushing him.  She left Frank to do his own thinking.

Standing at the last check-out counter she caught herself in the reflection of the automatic sliding doors.  As they opened and closed she knew the thoughts that were whipping through the minds of the employees of the store at the very moment they heard she was coming in for a visit.  They all thought they’d be fired, which was a good thought for them to have, kept them motivated.   She watched her reflection again; her hair was perfect, blown out and straight as an arrow.  Marlo knew that to make this work she needed to chew lemons, and never give away what she was thinking.

She watched a white haired man stumble his way towards the customer service counter, his hands shaking as he went.  Then she watched two women, one with sucked in cheeks, the other with light gray hair, they both desperately held onto the same shopping cart.   She wondered if they shared an apartment, a bed, or were just mother and daughter out food shopping.

Frank wobbled his way towards her staring at his shoes as he went.

“She’s in my office.”

“Who?”

“You know.”

“No.  I don’t.  This is your store.”

“She wants to talk to you.  It’s a girl thing.”

Marlo smiled and crossed her arms.  She followed Frank back to the office.  Earlier that day she had stood behind the observation glass in the bakery and watched two employees pick their assholes and rub shit off their noses, no one wore gloves.  The level of pain she could inflict…if she were heartless.  But she let it go.  She let it all go.  There were only so many battles that could be fought.

Marlo’s chest tightened as she breathed in and held the air down like a deep drag off a joint.  The office was now so small that she felt sick.  Frank’s coffee breath and this woman’s tears filled the tiny space.

“I’m so sorry.” This woman mumbled.

This idiot woman, asshole, fuck up, do nothing, Marlo thought all of these things and more.  She wasn’t sorry that this woman had to work in a place like this.  She wasn’t sorry for this woman’s luck.  There was only one way this could go.

Marlo let her breath out, and tried to find a smile that had as few sharp edges as possible.