Sunday Salon at Jimmy’s No. 43

Sunday Salon is one of the great reading series in NYC, and has been going strong for ten years now. Nita Noveno and Sara Lippman consistently attract great readers/performers and a standing-room-only crowd, so I was really excited to be part of the line-up this past Sunday. It was not only a great night of performances and readings, but also an opportunity to raise some funds post-Sandy for Habitat for Humanity.

Honor Molloy read an excerpt from her autobiographical novel Smarty Girl. I loved how when she went up to the mic you could barely detect an accent, but when she started her reading this amazing Irish brogue spilled out of her mouth. Honor has studied acting, and boy did it show. Her reading was truly an epic performance, and a very hard act to follow.

Which unfortunately was left to me. I decided to read a newer story of mine, “Please”, something I wrote explicitly for my friend Christina Phelp’s pub crawl last year for her literary magazine, Trans. I had only read it aloud once so far, so I was glad to see people were laughing at the right places.

Next up was The Unnameable, a NYC-based band composed of writer/musicians Robert Lopez and David Hollander. Robert has an amazing, raspy voice that reminds me of the lead singer from TV on the Radio. And David wrote L.I.E., which although I didn’t read I did see the movie, which was pretty fantastic. I’m sure the book is even better.

After the break, Gene Albamonte read some hilarious pieces from his new book, Huckster, as well as some brand new material. Gene is hilarious. I was lucky enough to meet him a few months ago from a mutual friend of ours, Patrick Bradley. Patrick told me how funny Gene is and Gene didn’t disappoint. He’s also a super nice guy.

Tara Betts was up last. Tara read some poems from her collection Arc and Hue, including a really funny questionnaire-like poem for upcoming poets, before slaying us with a harrowing section of her forthcoming memoir. Very powerful stuff.

The Unnanmeable returned for a few songs to close out the night. These guys are really great. Not going to lie–I’m more than a bit jealous of these writer/musician types. I should have listened to my mom and taken those piano lessons when I was six 😉

Thanks to everyone who turned out and for donating to a really good cause. And special thanks to Nita and Sara for running such a great series, which you should definitely check out soon!

Dire Literary Series in Cambridge


What a great weekend in Boston, and what a pleasure to read at the Dire Literary Series in Cambridge last Friday night. It was a bit surreal to leave NY after Sandy, but in some ways it was also a relief. My friend Francesco decided to come along for the weekend and we were very fortunate that the LIRR was running smoothly so we could catch the Bolt bus to Boston.

Timothy Gager runs the Dire Series and he’s been doing a bang-up job for years now. I believe he said our reading was his 140th(!) so congrats on that, Tim! I really enjoyed the space–a cozy art gallery called Out of the Blue–as well as the diversity and creativity of the other readers, both the Open Mic as well as the featured readers. My friend Aparna surprised me at the reading and on the fly decided to sing a song at the Open Mic that her friend had written that addresses the treatment of women in India in the caste system. The other Open Mic readers were probing and gripping as well. MC Tim kept things casual and funny, and even read a few short works of his own.

It was a pleasure to share the bill with the two other featured readers, Thomas M. Cirignano and Carolyn Zaikowski. Carolyn read an excerpt from her forthcoming novel that was mesmerizing. She’s a terrific reader. Thomas was once a mechanic to a mob, and he wrote first a memoir and then a fictional account about his experiences dealing with gangsters in South Boston. Fascinating stuff! I chose to read what’s becoming my go-to story, “Dear Guy in 24 B.” I’ve been experimenting with new work lately, but when I travel I sometimes like to go with the time-tested stuff.

I am SO grateful to all my Boston area friends who showed up! You guys really packed the house, and I am humbled by your support. Seriously, Boston peeps–you rock! Afterwards we went to Koreana for some bim bi bop and bulgogi. The rest of the weekend was also wonderful–I’d forgotten how charming Boston was, and the people were much nicer than I remember. (Don’t hate, I had a few bad experiences in Beantown before. But it’s all good now!)