Reading Series Census: First Tuesdays

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Wednesday, December 28th, 2016 | 1,967 views

First Tuesdays, a Jackson Heights reading series

The New York City Reading Series Census is an ongoing project to catalogue the contemporary literary scene. Any reading series curator in the New York area can take the survey here.

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The Unthinkable

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Monday, December 26th, 2016 | 2,514 views

On election night, I was anxious. I thought Hillary would probably win. The polls were saying she would. Still, I’m a worrier. I started watching early, hoping for good returns. Hoping for 2012. As the returns grew worse, I flipped through the channels faster and faster, desperately hoping for different news, better news. Of course, I didn’t get it.

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My Non-existence Under a Trump Administration

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Monday, December 19th, 2016 | 2,145 views

When my mother patted the black tufts of hair on my head and gazed into my dark eyes for the first time, she was not a U.S. citizen. But, in my newborn pinkness, I was. The year was 1988 and it was an unseasonably warm day in November less than one week after Halloween. I was experiencing the world outside of my mother’s womb in healthy, even breaths that would not have been possible had it not been for my mother’s emergency C-section. With my umbilical cord wound around my neck, my birth was almost my undoing. My tiny mother was exhausted but relieved to welcome all eight pounds of me—alive!—with my American father by her side.

The site of this initial meet and greet was a regional hospital on a long, winding road in my hometown of Arlington, Virginia. As part of the Washington, D.C. metro area, the pipsqueak county may be one of the smallest in the United States, but it has one of the largest Salvadoran populations in the country. This is worth mentioning because my mother is Salvadoran. She, like the majority of her fellow Salvadoran immigrants, came to the United States to escape her homeland’s civil war.

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Reading Series Census: Ditmas Lit

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Wednesday, December 14th, 2016 | 2,019 views

The New York City Reading Series Census is an ongoing project to catalogue the contemporary literary scene. Any reading series curator in the New York area can take the survey here.

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What is the name of the series, and what is the significance or meaning of the series name?
The name of the series is Ditmas Lit. We floated around some ideas that were a little more clever, but we ultimately decided we wanted something easy to remember that gave a shout out to the neighborhood.

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A Month in the Life of an Impending Dictatorship

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Monday, December 12th, 2016 | 2,624 views

Day 1—Election Day: You hear yourself saying to your husband, “Oh my…he’s winning,” and wonder why the feminist journalist on screen announcing the results is taking this so lightly. Then you realize, her mortgage is probably really high.

Day 2—The Day of Mourning: Everyone at work wears black and walks with his/her/their head facing the ground. You know it’s because of the outcome, even though it is raining. There are at least two people you encounter who have a spring in their step.

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Extreme Choices: An Interview with Scott Alexander Hess, author of Skyscraper

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Wednesday, December 7th, 2016 | 1,356 views

Scott Alexander Hess with Skyscraper

Scott Hess loves to tantalize a reader. His gorgeous prose soars off the page like the symbolic building in his latest novel, Skyscraper—a story of art, lust, and unexpected transformation. His previous novel, The Butcher’s Sons, was named a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2015, and in all of his books, Hess pushes boundaries while also pushing readers to the edge of their wildest fantasies. I caught up with Hess to learn more about Skyscraper and his unrelenting passion.

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Amy Dupcak: Another new novel, congrats! Your last book, The Butcher’s Sons, was historical fiction set in 1930s Hell’s Kitchen, but Skyscraper takes place in present-day New York. How do you choose the time period and setting for your novels? And how else does Skyscraper differ from The Butcher’s Sons?

Scott Alexander Hess: The dynamics of the story guide me to the time period. With The Butcher’s Sons, I wanted to tell a tale of three brothers in a butcher shop in Hell’s Kitchen, and the grit and intensity of that neighborhood circa 1930 made sense to me. Also, the brothers’ conflicts, which include an interracial relationship and a gay affair, were really amped up due to the danger surrounding these types of relationships in the 1930s. Skyscraper is a sharp, modern book of obsession and boundary pushing sex. As I began writing that novel, it demanded a bristling modern city scene.

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My Appalachia: Coming Home in a Changing America

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Monday, December 5th, 2016 | 6,733 views

It’s April and I’m on the road jumping across the country promoting my debut book, a story collection about the residents of an economically-challenged small town in West Virginia. A large number of the stories in the book focus on the sometimes hidden and sometimes exposed lives of the gay men who live in the little town. It was an interesting concept for me—to juxtapose the lives of those stuck economically against the lives of those stunted emotionally. I modeled the setting on my hometown, a once prosperous place built with the big money of coal, timber, and railroad barons who built mansions that towered over the boomtown downtown. In the book, everyone’s clamoring—to stay, to leave, for a reprieve. In the book, and in real life, there’s this beautiful past to which everyone clings. It’s the past where the downtown streets were filled with the friendly faces of people with things to buy, where the future seemed bright and open.

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