Amanda Faraone, Laura Macomber and Sierra Troy-Regier founded the Flint Fiction reading series in September of 2014. Hosted at 2A, an East Village dive bar with a windowed, second-floor event space, Flint Fiction is the successor to the Fiction Addiction reading series. Fiction Addiction founder Christine Vines passed the torch onto Amanda, Laura and Sierra when she matriculated to Cornell University to pursue an MFA. The night of Tuesday, June 30, featured three readers with a diversity of backgrounds whose readings coincidentally united around a cinematic theme.
Jesse Hassenger, a reader for One Story with stories in The Masters Review, Threepenny Review, The Toast and elsewhere, kicked the night off. Hassenger described the trials and tribulations of a nebbishy nerd who goes above and beyond to impress a pretty girl by securing a videotape she wants to watch. Hassenger’s prose harkened to eighties-era teen dramas (think Steven King’s The Body [later developed into the film “Stand By Me”], or John Hughes’s The Breakfast Club), and his facility with the inner workings of the teenage mind made for an entertaining reading.
In a brief interview after the reading, Hassenger explained that he was reading an excerpt from a novel-in-progress that takes place over the course of twenty years, and that the excerpt he read, set in 1988, belongs to the earliest section of the book.
Jonathan Durbin took the podium next. Few know much about Durbin, who tends to keep a low profile, but his path has been an interesting one: he got his start at a Montreal-based alternative magazine called VICE in the early nineties before going on to hold a variety of editorial positions at Maclean’s, PAPER Magazine, VH1 and more.
Durbin, whose work has appeared in One Story, New England Review, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, Nashville Review and elsewhere, read a short story in the form of a Gmail conversation between the disgruntled screenwriter and the reckless director of an indie film gone awry. We learn that Hell’s Angels have joined the project, that N’espresso machines have been decimated by their gunfire, that the director has sent a picture of his crack pipe to the writer’s girlfriend during a late night writing session. Durbin often invokes a more introspective Brett Easton Ellis in his biting descriptions of cruel, tormented characters, but his reading proved that his comedic sensibilities are as sharp as his dramatic chops, and delivered his story with the confidence and comedic timing of an author like Geoff Dyer or a Gary Shteyngart.
After a brief break, Anna North took the stage to conclude the evening. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, North is the author of two novels, and read an excerpt from her newest, The Life and Death of Sophie Stark, released May 19th by Penguin. The novel follows Sophie, the eponymous young filmmaker at the center of the tale, as she makes a documentary about Daniel, the star of her college’s basketball team.
North displayed delicate attention to detail and a refined ear for dialogue over the course of her reading. Sophie’s conversation with Daniel’s girlfriend was truly gut wrenching — the girlfriend admits that she knows Daniel cheats on her constantly, but insists that Daniel needs her to forgive him, and that “no one else” would do that for him. Such is the nature of North’s ability to seep inside our collective conscious and rip at our emotional wiring, fraying our mainframes and sizzling our synapses.
In the end, three talented writers converged upon an inadvertent theme to make for a great literary evening. Joyland Magazine joins the Flint Fiction reading series next month with Julienne Grey, Anu Jindal, and Eleanor Kriseman. More details here.