Thanks to everyone who came out last Thursday, June 9, to hear Michael Kimball and Blake Butler read from their new novels at the Antenna Gallery. Over 50 people attended the event, which acted as a sort of beta-launch for what will become a regular series of live prose at Antenna hosted by Room 220. The next reading will be on Saturday, June 25, at 7 p.m. with Jesus Angel Garcia, on tour for the release of his transmedia novel badbadbad, along with poet and essayist Hannah Miet.
Lots of good local writers attended the reading, including Paul Killebrew, Patrick Thomas Casey, Michael Lee and his Tuscaloosa contingent, and Ariella Cohen of The Lens. Dean Paschal showed up after his shift as the “late” physician. Amelia Gray was there with Butler and Kimball—I saw her later outside the Lost Love Lounge lying in a bush. Giancarlo DiTrapano, editor and publisher of Tyrant Books and the New York Tyrant literary journal, was in that group as well. Mark Folse, who’s responsible for the blog Toulouse Street, was the first person to arrive and had this to say about Bulter’s reading:
Butler is not only an Internet literary phenom he is also a force of nature. Sitting in the front row while he reads his fantastical, frenetic coffee-shop triple-cap Kerouac prose is like strapping yourself into the Whirl-and-Hurl: the G force pins you in your seat and the world is turned edgewise as the words swirl madly around you. He reads from the fourth section of his new novel, THERE IS NO YEAR, the tale of a man called The Father whose head is trapped inside of a large metal bubble with two large eye slots. The Father is fed by a variety of tubes by The Son. (Butler travels daily to write at his parents home, where he helps care for his dementia-afflicted father). The Father stumbles through the house, trying to connect back to a world he seems to have lost, stumbling out into the yard and over to the neighbors, peering at a world grown distant and fantastic through the tiny slits in his metal helmet.
The gallery’s air conditioner held up well and folks stuck around to drink, chat, and buy books before moving down to Lost Love, which has become the default afterparty spot for Room 220 events. Michael Kimball watched in suspense at the Mavericks beat the Heat; Blake Butler stalked around, chin forward; and Gian caught up with old friends (he went to college in New Orleans). My night ended as it should have, in slightly tired and blurry bliss.
Michael Kimball reads at the Antenna Gallery (photo: Andy Cook)