PATRICK STEPHENSON

Earthbound concerns of an ascendant adult

Ander Monson Reading

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I’m going to Ander Monson’s reading tonight at Micawber’s [1]. Emily has the car for work so I’ll be taking the bus, and missing The Office, which I think is a rerun anyway. I bought Monson’s Neck Deep and Other Predicaments last week, and his novel Other Electricities: Stories today. What I’ve read so far has, in modern parlance, blown me away, especially Other Electricities, which I read over Chinese food this afternoon post-work. That book begins with a Dramatis Personae and a List of Themes that could seem gimmicky and artificial in other hands, but Monson handles the so-called gimmickry as well as Dave Eggers in AHWOSG, and manages, in only a few lines of text, to tell a story while previewing the bulk of the book. It’s pretty amazing. I was moved by it, despite its concision.

So, I’ll be seeing Ander Monson tonight. Neck Deep was published by Graywolf Press, a company established right here in Saint Paul, MN. I’m so proud that a book this good is out thanks to a Minnesotan publisher. Its essays use non-traditional forms—”the index, the Harvard outline, the mathematical proof”—”to delve into an equally surprising mix of obsessions.” At the reading, I hope to see Mary Matze, whom I met at David Treuer’s reading for The Translation of Dr. Appelles, and who’s a head publicist at Graywolf. I sent her an e-mail soon afterward inquiring about interning for Graywolf, but despite the information she provided, I didn’t. I missed the deadline. Bummer. I wonder if Monson’ll bring in a large crowd. If so, I’m sure they’ll be very literary people, possibly cranky and very pretentious. Maybe four-eyed. I’ve never been to this Micawber’s bookstore and had no idea it existed till now. Hope I don’t get lost on the way there.

[1] This will be my second reading this week. The first was at Coffman Union by Joe Conason, with an introduction by MN”s own Al Franken, and I worked security. In an entry about this reading I began but never finished, I wrote:

“I met Al Franken tonight. I shook Al Franken’s hand. It was a low key meeting. He visited to introduce writer Joe Conason, a frequent guest on his recently cancelled radio show who’s just published a book about our totalitarian United States. I came into work at 5pm, after nearly everyone–including the bossman–had left. Around 6:45pm, at the tail-end of two hours spent walking around, hanging out, talking with Jordan and Polina and Marge, I happened to walk up to the front of the store. Terry, trade manager and lady in charge of promoting the readings we host, was guiding everyone to our text section, where the reading was taking place. As soon as I walked over, a small crowd of people entered the store.

The crowd was Al Franken’s family, and the man himself. I stood there in a kind of shock, or at least affected shock, because I didn’t know how to react. Terry said hello to Franken. Franken introduced his wife and son. Meanwhile, I stared at them all as this happened, and eventually Franken turned toward me and put out his hand. “I’m Patrick,” I said, apropos of nothing. Al Franken said nothing. He looked like you’d assume from pictures, except older. A short, middle-aged man.”

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Written by patiomensch

March 8, 2007 at 5:40 pm

Posted in Ander Monson, Books

One Response

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  1. shigekuni

    June 15, 2009 at 6:12 pm


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