Proust and Company is a new literary reading series created by Jeffrey Round, author of such books as A Cage of Bones and The P'Town Murders. I know, the idea of authors reading from their tomes sounds like a snooze, but the inaugural event, held in the apartment above Glad Day Books currently occupied by charming youngster Josh Bentley-Swan, was a blast. Who knew writers could be such fun? The wine flowed freely, and the atmosphere was more like a really good house party instead of an uptight gathering. This is what salons of old might have been, I though, like when Bram Stoker's wife would have everyone over on a Sunday afternoon to hear Oscar Wilde read poems as everyone drank absinthe or whatever.
Jeffrey got up and told a touching story about how he went to Paris and found Proust's tombstone, and how it inspired him. Then he introduced Michael Rowe, author of Other Men's Sons, which just won a Randy Shilts literary prize. Michael read a story about how, as a child, he felt like a little girl, a notion backed up by their two Latina servants, who joked that they should take little Michael to the sawmill to remove that unsightly penis. I'm assuming that in hindsight, he's glad that didn't happen.
Then Jeffrey introduced Beverley Stone, a lawyer who took six years to write No Beautiful Shore, a novel about a girl named Bride growing up in Newfoundland and discovering her attraction to other women. The crowd lapped it up, and later, Bev and Michael both signed and sold copies of their books. Throughout the evening, classy cocktail music was provided by the very good Geri Aniceto on vocals and Omel Masalunga on keys. I hope they'll be a fixture at these evenings.
Afterwards, I had fun drunken conversations with Glad Day owner John Scythes, who believes that syphilis is the significant and mostly overlooked factor in developing AIDS. John likes to pretend he's just a plumber, but most plumbers don't present research papers to a group of European physicians as he once did. I also had a fun chat with James Dubro, who makes it his business to follow every gay murder trial. Last year we bonded over the investigation into the death of my friend Harley Walker, who was stabbed by a trick. Now, James is busy writing about the death of Ross McGill, also found stabbed by a hustler. What could be more literary than that?
The next Proust and Company event will be held on February 7, 2009, at 8 PM, again in the apartment above Glad Day Books. Scheduled readers are Narine Holtz, author of The Skin Beneath, and S Bear Bergman, author of Butch is a Noun, and maybe, just maybe, Sky Gilbert will also show up to read from his works, as well.