Hello all, hope you are keeping calm, and carrying on, and such
Yesterday, an adventurous group of us headed uptown to the Community Church of New York for a special reading/fundraiser by Junot Diaz. Since, I went with a group I was unaware of the details until we arrived. I discovered that the event was part of an ongoing effort to save Revolution Books from closing. It took me a while to recover from the shock that a store with decidedly leftist views was holding a fundraiser in a church. But it certainly provided more space than a bookstore would have and Diaz really did inspire us from the pulpit like a priest would his congregation.
Diaz is a great writer, but I’ve discovered the real fun in going to see him read is in the long Q+A’s where he mixes hilarious anecdotes with highbrow descriptions of his process. One minute he can be cracking jokes about a rich, but stingy friend who wanted to be comped a ticket…to a fundraiser, and the next he can drop pure wisdom: “isn’t it the goal of all writing to make the language new again? We want the reader to suddenly realize the strangeness of something they experience everyday.” The actual reading was brief–an older short story and then a new piece that he described as “absolutely terrible.” (Even though it was great writing by most standards, it was fascinating when Diaz articulated how he needed to fix it.) It was a true move of solidarity with the writers in the crowd who, as he aptly put it, “suffer through the pain of early drafts.”
Diaz also stressed the importance of Revolution Books as an independent bookstore, rather than as a political entity, and I agree. I feel it would be a great loss if it were to close. No matter your political views, the truth is independent bookstores are a precious resource. While the call for money was a little heavy-handed throughout the night, it was easy to look past it and recognize the reading for what it was: an illuminating “Evening with Junot Diaz”
Now peeps, one final thing. Your assignment, should you choose to accept, is to write a love poem/story! Or better yet, an anti-love poem/story!