Telling Stories in Someone’s Living Room?
Working under the assumption that everyone enjoys being read to, that that form of entertainment which so delights as children is not something we naturally grow out of, I have been pondering these last few weeks about whether or not a “reading party” would be a worthwhile social experiment. I’ve been to a fair number of gatherings where a band played, but never to any where people got up and read. I can’t quite put my finger on why such a thing wouldn’t work — it only takes one person to give a reading, after all, wheras it takes at least a couple to make up a band — but it seems to me that it’s the sort of thing that doesn’t happen for a reason.
For writers of prose, particularly fiction writers, it is nearly impossible to find a public forum in which to give readings from your work. And you might as well stop trying if you haven’t published at least one book. Poets have it slightly easier — coffeehouse open mic nights are more tailored to their shorter, more compressed work — but not by much, as the venues they might once have read in are being squeezed out of existence by the plague of Starbucks. Wouldn’t it make sense then to come up with other opportunities, to read at parties, for instance?
Back in September, Sara and Scott and I met up at the Enormous Room to hear our former mentor, Michael Lowenthal, give a reading as part of the first Four Stories reading event. That evening had exactly the kind of vibe I’m imagining at a reading party, except on a larger scale. There were the usual suspects — writers, professors, and so on — but there were also casual listeners who’d come by for a drink and stayed for the entertainment. And while the second Four Stories event didn’t quite do it for me (and Sara has told me the third was even worse) it’s the spirit of that original event which comes to mind when I think about the feasability and advisability of throwing a reading party.
It’s also depressing as hell to think of the total dearth of culture in southern New Hampshire, where I live. I think, given the nature of the state in which I live, readings given at private residences might actually work out better. One might actually be able to draw a crowd.
So, this is me just throwing the idea out there. What do all of you think of the idea of having a gathering/party which featured one or two people reading from their work in addition to the regular party staples of drinking and chatting? Does it sound too corny? Do you figure that people would just fall asleep? What do you think?