As overwhelming an event like the Indie and Small Press Book Fair is for book loving masochists, we can’t help but attend and torture ourselves with the sight of endless tables of hardcove
rs, paperbacks, literary journals, and beautiful hand crafted, limited print chapbooks. Our first thought on entering the fair? Sensory overload. Luckily, we knew the tables we wanted to hit: Small Beer, Seven Stories, and Hotel St. George. As we wandered through the first of three floors of books, we couldn’t suppress the urge to make a beeline for the cafe upstairs and a cup of chicken noodle soup while we waited for panels and discussions to start.
The Next Digital Age with Mike Shatzkin, Dan Simon, and Peter B. Kaufman, was a discussion about the future of print and the relevance of books to future generations, who will likely grow up squinting in front of screens instead of huddled under blankets reading with flashlights as many of us did. Will they ever have the patience to sit through a 500 page novel? Shatzkin predicted that one day we’ll live day by day depending upon up to 8 screens, while Simon painted a wistful portrait of a seemingly impossible future in which we all ride bikes, reject the evil automobile, and purchase books from “brick and mortar” bookstores and kiosks that exist on every block. Shatzkin scoffed and snickered good-naturedly beside him. After whipping out his glinting Kindle and hinting at the end of print media, Shatskin mildly reassured those of us who are “pervy for paper” that books will never disappear.
After a couple hours of intrepid browsing, we returned to see three winners of the Moth perform and answer questions about their experience of storytelling. Each has been lucky enough to get a book deal out of their Moth performances over the years, and we quickly understood why. Each told a story that communicated not only a hilarious or startling moment in each of their lives, but a lesson that the experience gave them. After dressing up like a fortune cookie for a church dance, in hopes of finding the love of her life in a fellow Mormon, Scarlett Johansson look-alike Elna Baker realized that it’s not a good idea to “make a deal with God where you set the terms.” We all laughed as she described coming to the realization that her perfect costume morphed into a giant vagina on the subway. She threw up her hands, and “tossed her vagina in the broom closet, which is what you do when you go to church,” she said. We anxiously await Baker’s collection of stories.
Next came a conversation between short storyist Kelly Link and Old Hag blogger Lizzie Skurnick. After listening to Link recount her experience in sci-fi writing workshops where her fellow “writers of weird” only responded to her writing by saying “this is just really fucking weird,” we can’t wait to read Pretty Monsters.
And finally, to close, here are some titles we noticed this past weekend that we can’t wait to pick up:
The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories-Joan Aiken (Small Beer Press)
Stories in the Worst Way-Gary Lutz (3rd Bed Books)
Music for Landing Planes By -Eireann Lorsung (Milkweed Editions)
Foreigners and Other Familiar Faces-Mark Rich (Small Beer Press)
Warlock-Oakley Hall (NY Review of Books)