The Furnace reading series—motto: "One Writer. One Story. Read to Completion (With Vigor)"—is an odd duck when compared to the rest of Seattle's reading scene. It's obsessively focused on one author at a time, and it makes more of a reading as a performance than many other reading series in town, where text is king. The author produces the story as an aural landscape with sound effects (the Law & Order interstitial CH-CHUNG! noise figured into Lacey Jane Henson's "Trigger" performance) and musical accompaniment. The stories are read live to both an audience in the Hollow Earth Radio studios and listeners streaming Hollow Earth Radio on the internet. Additionally, all past Furnace readings are recorded and archived on the series website at thefurnaceseattle.wordpress.com, and chapbooks of the prose are sold at the reading, online, and at Elliott Bay Book Company.
After a holiday hibernation period, the Furnace returns this Wednesday with a performance by local writer Nancy Jooyoun Kim. Kim's essay "My Piles" is an archaeological examination of her own life as exemplified by the piles of stuff sitting in various places around her home a week before she moves in with a new boyfriend—an occasion that will mark "the first time I have lived with a male."
In careful and somewhat distant language, Kim investigates the mounds: piles of "photographs, postcards, credit card offers" in one place, manuscripts and rejection letters somewhere else, and clothes including a halter dress and "just one sock" in yet another location. It might make you picture the scientists who retrieve antarctic ice core data in An Inconvenient Truth, drilling perfect cylinders down into frozen waves of matter and pulling up ancient facts. The essay is a gentle, confessional treat. When the author reads it in her own voice, with her own choice of background accompaniment, she'll undoubtedly exhume more secrets from the depths.