André Alexis, Fifteen Dogs and Russell Smith, Confidence
BookShelf Cafe eBar, May 12 2015:
The eBar at the BookShelf is a nice venue for a reading because it’s dark and cozy and quite small so you don’t have a lot of empty seats. The only problem I’ve found is that the seating isn’t always the best because it’s not oriented toward the end of the bar, where the readings take place. It’s also not a great venue if you’re on your own. It feels like you’re dining alone. Luckily, and quite unusually (for me), I was with a couple of friends.
The reading itself was exceptional. Both authors are accomplished public speakers, though in a different ways. They each read for fifteen minutes, and then answered a couple of questions after. The main question they responded to had to deal with the fate of “literary” fiction in today’s culture/marketplace. Since this is a subject I spend a lot of time thinking about I was interested in their thoughtful answers, which cast me into further reflections on the matter. André also told a great story about dogsitting a pack of howling dogs while working on a novel.
Unfortunately things wrapped up quickly and I didn’t get a chance to talk for very long to either author. Nevertheless, this was still one of the best readings I’ve ever attended, an opinion shared by the half-dozen or so people I spoke to after. It would be great to see these two together on television, or YouTube at least. This country could really use more lively, well-informed, and articulate literary discussion.