Look, Book: Blake Butler at Franklin Park

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What was it?

The monthly reading series at Franklin Park, a bar in Crown Heights that has a lot of square footage but always seems too small for the crowd. The reading series is an excellent and somewhat unusual one: Rather than introducing one author to read and then doing a Q&A, the series usually groups together three or four readers and let’s them have the floor for a good long chunk of time. Beer is $4 all night, and there’s a raffle to win copies of the books that are being read, plus some for sale from Unnameable. Also there is a pinball machine. Also hamburgers, should you wish.

On this particular occasion, the series was launching 300,000,000 by alt-lit superstar and HTML Giant editor Blake Butler (who we interviewed last year, check it out). Also on the block: Dylan Landis, reading from her novel Rainey Royal, Jac Jemc with her knockout of a collection A Different Bed Every Time, and Catherine Lacey of Nobody Is Ever Missing fame reading from a new piece. 

Who was there?

A mixture of literary locals, confused bar patrons, and reading regulars, including Harper Perennial Editorial Director Calvert Morgan.

The folding chairs in the middle of the room quickly filled up and people squeezed in around the edges. After Jemc and Landis took their turns reading, there was a fifteen minute break that stretched quickly into a half hour break for people to refill their drinks and mill about. More raffle tickets were given out. The atmosphere: collegial, tipsy.

What was the best thing that happened?

All of the readers in the series used their time well. They were clearly a bunch of seasoned readers here, who held the crowd in their thrall. But Catherine Lacey’s new material (part of a new novel? A story?) was particularly great, having to do with a quasi-monk and a quasi-affair. Blake Butler took the stage with his book and read an excerpt of his book at a relentless volume, infusing the whole thing with a hypnotic rant-like ferocity. This is a section of the book in which all manner of people die, which got very 2666-ish as it went one, both awful and mesmerizing. You can read an excerpt of the book here for a taste.

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