Monday, August 15, 2016

August was a Literary Blast!

The August 9th reading was full of literary craftsmen and craftswomen who shared some great fiction. There was also a bit of music thrown in for good measure. Like we do at TCM, none of this was planned, it simply happened. Makes for an interesting night all the time. So here's how this one played out.

Leading off the night was Vincent Francone. He read two pieces of fiction that both had a slight comical tone. The first story centered around a failed relationship that nicely employed the image of a Loveseat (which doubled as the piece's title). Why did the narrator's ex leave him only the loveseat when she left? We find out a bit more about the two and as it stands, the loveseat is the only positive that's left of what they once shared. Vince then read a bit of satire in which he bemoaned his alderman to the point of wanting to kill him. He got longtime TCM supporter Julia Bortcherts to come up and join him (as seen above). It was a great start to the night for sure.

Second up was Kathy O'Neill. Her credentials included working for Good Morning America, NPR, and ABC news among others. She also works at the American Irish Heritage Center in Chicago. Her work mixed her journalistic background incorporating her Irish heritage in a piece of creative nonfiction about living in Boston for the summer between college semesters. Her voice was clear throughout the piece. The summer journey she took, living with dropouts from clown college and drinking at Irish pubs, was told with enough distance to make it all the funnier. It was a a lot of fun without trying to be. I could see this being turned into a script or maybe a radio serial. We'll see.

Kathy brought with a friend, Mark Piekarz to play a little something after her reading. When asking him what he would perform, he noticed the old piano in the Comfort Station and asked, "Does that work?" Indeed it did.  At our old home at Hungry Brain, there was a piano and sad to say no one at a TCM ever played on it. Mark got down and sang us a lilting melody on this calm summer night. I was glad to see the piano get used at a TCM.

The last two readers I knew were both great storytellers (which is why they were invited to read on the same night). Darwyn Jones is as charismatic and funny as he is dramatic and heartfelt. His stories at least. Not sure about his real life, but he did come dressed in a classy shirt and tie, so there's that about him.

He read a work of creative nonfiction about growing up and the small things that stick with us through the years. The focus of his work was a universal theme anyone could relate to from their childhood: deciding which candy to buy.  He took us to that time when children could be in control of this one choice that made them feel important. Employing objects, gestures, sounds, and smells, he took us back to that candy counter in Iowa, looking at him as a young kid, in a jacket too big for him, with a dollar in hand and candy on his mind. If you ever see his name on a reading lineup, go. You won't be disappointed.

Ending the night was Jill How, the co-founder of the live lit series Story Studio. That basically means she's got experience telling stories in front of strangers. She shared a personal narrative, barely looking at her notes for cues, rattling off a story about high school memories that only could be appreciated with age and distance. The story was about how she wanted to get the attention of a fellow band member by doing a parody of a pop culture song as her report on Hawthorne's the Scarlet Letter. The song, Alanis Morissette's Ironic. She recorded it on a cassette, as this was done in the 90s, but that tape no longer exists. So to drive it home, Jill pulled out her Ukulele and strummed along as she sang her version. Like I said earlier, tonight was a musical show. Glad she shared this embarrassing part of her high school past. Even if she didn't win over the guy, she won us all over for sure. This was how we ended the night,  because who can really follow a woman playing a alternative rock on a Uke?

This was August's Two Cookie. A great lineup on a cool summer night. We'll be back this summer to close things down for the season. Look back from more info on the last readings we'll do in 2016. Enjoy the rest of your summer until then.  

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