Irina & AllisonFive Questions/Five Dresses

Who: Authors Irina Reyn and Allison Amend.

Where: A Diane von Furstenberg sample sale in the Flatiron District of NYC.

What: Irina purchased a discounted oversized scarf; Allison came out with a cute dress (A-line, not wrap), and a black eyelet top.

How Much: That’s not polite to ask. Let’s just say everything was steeply discounted.

Present: Every single woman in Manhattan. And two men.

allison.amend_Allison Amend: Why didn’t you make up your own questions?

A:  Every time I thought about a self interview, three images emerged: James Lipton asking me questions on “Inside the Actor’s Studio,” Vanity Fair quizzing me on its back-page Proust Questionnaire, and singing with the Beatles. I figured I would fulfill these aggrandizing fantasies here.


James Lipton: What is your favorite word? Least favorite word?

A: Amalgamate. Relatable.


A Nearly Perfect CopyFrom Now On, Only Lasts


“Where’s Shrimp Salad?” was the first thing Elm’s husband Colin said when he walked through the door, and Elm fought a frisson of jealousy of her daughter.

The little hair Colin had left, white blond, clung to his head like seaweed. He popped a carrot stick left over from their daughter Moira’s snack in his mouth, and then tried to kiss Elm on the cheek clumsily. She had beaten him home by five minutes, and was still plugging in the various devices that needed charging after a long day.

Moira ran out of her room. “Daddy, I asked you not to be so silly,” she chided.

“Ya did, did ye? Be not remembering that, I wasn’t,” he said, exaggerating his Irish accent. He picked Moira up. “I’m silly? You’re a silly silleen gob, y’are so.” Colin let her slide down his body to the floor.

Recently, in the fine media tradition of griping about how sick everybody is of talking about something—and thereby talking about it more—I read a tweet that quipped, “Can we stop talking about the New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 already?”

The answer is no.

If you happen to find yourself in New York on Wednesday, May 19, do stop by the upstairs lounge at Pianos at 7pm for an evening of fun & games, music & mayhem, dungeons & dragons, and books & booze.

The lineup of literary luminaries includes TNB regulars Gina Frangello (Slut Lullabies) and Robin Antalek (The Summer We Fell Apart), as well as Allison Amend and Zoe Zolbrod, who, in addition to having great books coming out (Stations West and Currency, respectively), also have perfectly complementary initials.

There will be music by Madame X (not to be confused with the lounge of the same name; don’t go there; the beers are too pricey), Ted McCagg supplied the awesome poster, and Yours Truly will host.

Kimberly M. Wetherell will atttend — that we know — but rumors that Slade Ham will pop out of Allison’s birthday cake are, as of this writing, unsubstantiated.

Hope to see you there!

By 1892 it is already obvious to the residents of Orerich, Colorado that the boomtown is slated for extinction, its mining claims played out and its dead-end rail-line serving as a metaphor for its future. The town is half a Noah’s Ark—one of everything a small settlement might need—one metalsmith, one dairyman, one post office, one “sporting house,” one saloon, and one school. Classes are held in the Gilmore Opera House, which is both church and community center, and now schoolhouse. It is a grand building with a mansard roof and a large three-hundred-seat auditorium. The students sit on the stage, which adds to their discomfort; it is as though their scholastic failures are being scrutinized by an invisible audience. The respectable children sit up front, near the teacher. They have appropriate clothes, the kind that appear in newspaper illustrations, with lacy ribbons and sashes, matching muffs in the winter, tight suspenders, dainty boots the girls can hardly walk in.

The Proust Questionnaire is a series of questions about ambitions, fears and proclivities popular in late 19th century drawing rooms. Marcel Proust once answered such a questionnaire; since then, it has been appropriated by television (James Lipton asks it of his guests on “Inside the Actors Studio”) and magazines (Vanity Fair asks the questions of a different celebrity each month). Here I pose the questions to myself (along with a couple that Proust didn’t answer).