And so we enter... end game.
The last weekend of my “Yesterday” tenure is upon me, and while I’m obviously relieved, I’m also wondering how I’ll react when it’s finally over. Will I happily ride off into the sunset? Or will I be like an athlete who tries to retire, only to realize how much he misses the adrenaline rush? I’ll end the suspense. The answer is: sunset.
But let’s not get into that now; I still have to suck it up for a few more days. Thus, I put on a clean shirt and headed to the ritzy Sorrento for a Friday night reading. Yep, that’s right. The wacky, anything-goes, gay-as-gay-gets, voice-of-the-young-and-the-drunk Stranger was sending me to a goddamn reading on a goddamn Friday night.
But Frizzelle is a savvy salesman. He wrote a couple posts on Slog, promising “hot gay sex,” “drugs,” and “suicide by self-immolation,” which is a little like “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll,” no? I admit he sold me. I actually considered inviting a couple friends; we could head up to the fancy hotel, have some drinks, see and be seen... cool shit, right?
Well, sort of.
The Sorrento's upstairs room was a fantastic venue—a brass chandelier dangled from the domed ceiling, holding court over the room’s baroque character, while scalloped curtains framed picture windows with views of the downtown skyline.
Adam Haslett, the author, was hoarse from a travel-bug ailment, so he only read about a paragraph before Frizzelle started his interview. But it was enough to pique my interest, and made the book’s intent clear—dissecting class structure, income disparity, and the mindset of powerful manipulators with all the money and no perspective.
After my fiction-defending hissy fit earlier this week, I was interested to hear Haslett’s response to a question about why he wrote a book of fiction, even though the economic subject matter seemed better suited to non-fiction. Composing the inner voices for his characters, Haslett said, where their deepest, darkest thoughts reside, was hugely important in helping him understand the baffling sociopathic conduct of CEOs heading up financial giants like Merrill Lynch and AIG. His response was richer than that though, full of nuance (he said something about the power of literature as the “ultimate outsider,” which I loved).
Frizzelle kept driving the questions in a populist and/or prurient direction, trying to make good his promise of a hot Friday night. He asked about the novel’s gay sex, the “assholes” in the banking industry, and leaned towards broad and unanswerable queries like “would Wall Street be the same if it was run by women, or gays, or black people?”
I don’t mean to slam him; he actually makes for an extremely engaging interviewer. But honestly, he didn’t need to dumb it down for this crowd. Most of them seemed like wonky progressives, happy to dig into fiscal policy minutiae.
I am not wonky however, especially on a Friday night. So I appreciated Frizzelle’s determination to keep it light. Even better, however, would have been if The Stranger had suggested a bisexual mud wrestling match or a concert performed by circus midgets... something brainless and ridiculous. It’s my last weekend... give me something zany to write about, for Christ’s sake!
Still, I will approve the recommendation. There was booze and a view, and Frizzelle’s presence was relaxed and appealing. Next time, however, consider a weeknight.