Back in November, just before a heart-crushingly awful reading, a polite young man named Aaron Talwar introduced himself to me. He had just moved to Seattle from the East Coast, and he said he was starting a publishing company. This is something I've heard many times before, and it never amounts to anything. I wished him luck and forgot all about it. A few weeks ago, at a wonderful reading at Pilot Books, Talwar approached me again. Turns out, he had started the publishing company and was about to launch his maiden title at Hugo House.
This is the kind of situation for which interrobangs were invented.
Talwar's publishing company is Dark Coast Press, and the first title is J.R.D. Middleton's An Dantomine Eerly. It's experimental, surrealist fiction about the end of a poet's life. Eerly calls back to centuries of Irish literary tradition, from the aisling (a patriotic lyric poem from the 17th century with dozens of bizarre constraints) to James Joyce's giddy molestation of language.
Not all the passages make sense (though they sing if read aloud, preferably with a bit of a lilt), but they fancifully explore a poet's love of language in all its sometimes-illogical forms. (Chosen at random: "Outside loud daytime bells rang over a New England death of sad tropical colors. The shops stood behind this effluvial veil of hazed air, opened, assumedly, for business.")
The reading is at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 1, at Hugo House. It is free, and Middleton will read aloud, which is sure to be illuminating. He'll be accompanied by local poet Paul E. Nelson, whose recent A Time Before Slaughter is a marvelous book-length poem about the history of Auburn, Washington. Despite Talwar's specious promise of "gypsy jazz," the combination of ambitious, intelligent readers and the enthusiasm of a publishing company that has gone from zero to impressive debut in six months flat promises a reading that will be anything but heart-crushingly awful.
One reading that was heart-crushingly awful was last Thursday's University Book Store–sponsored Sam Lipsyte event at Neptune Coffee. Not because Lipsyte was a bad reader—far from it; he was humble, smart, and funny—but because the coffee shop was double-booked, and a raucous party was celebrating in the back all the way through the reading. The first audience question was: "What's the most antagonistic place you've ever had a reading?" Lipsyte admitted that Neptune Coffee was "in the top 10," although he recounted a prior event when a man in the front row took a call halfway through and said, "I'm at a reading. Yeah, it's... all right." UBS's fuckup was less intentional than the call-taking jackass, but it was still an embarrassment, a shoddy way to treat one of the best writers in America.