Tag Archives: frayn masters

Post-Party Regrets

Last Friday’s 20th birthday party was a great night full of drinking, cake, and friends (not to mention Mike Daily’s cool bike stunt/toast).

B. Frayn Masters parades one of the cakes around.

We packed over 150 people into Disjecta and had a lot of fun showing off our history of books and artifacts on two big tables.

One of two tables of stuff on display.

But of course, as is sometimes the case, I realized later I made a few goofs and should have given some more shout-outs from the stage. I guess that’s what happens when you’re trying to figure out a working order for a dozen readers.

There were two people who didn’t make it to the stage. Suzanne Burns made the drive all the way up from Bend, Oregon but dropped out of the line-up later in the night when she started to not feel well. I regret that she didn’t get on stage. A couple of days ago, she posted a note on her Facebook page with a copy of the story/Future Tense tribute she was going to read. Go check it out if you’re friends with her there. Thanks for being there, Suzanne.

Michael Walsh was the other person at the event who didn’t make it on stage. I published two of Michael’s poetry chapbooks in the mid 90s and was always a big fan of his work. It was great to see him at the party and he was even wearing one of the very first Future Tense T-shirts ever produced. It was one that I made, also in the mid 90s, that said: “Corporate Poetry Still Sucks.” But even though Michael didn’t make it on stage, at least we got to see our old pal, Richard Meltzer (Richard wrote an intro to Michael’s chapbook, Paper or Plastic) .

Richard Meltzer's reading from his chapbook, Holes, was a highlight.

Of course, there are a lot of other people that I want to thank for my twenty years of publishing though I neglected to at the party. People like former Powell’s small press mavens Vanessa Renwick and Marty Kruse–two people whose supportive value can not be measured. As well as Chloe Eudaly from Reading Frenzy (I gave the shop a plug but not her by name like I should have).

Future Tense authors Brandon Freels and Kurt Eisenlohr were also there, and while they’re both too shy to get on a stage with a microphone, I want to say thank you to them now. They’ve both been a big help with many Future Tense projects. Also, my interns, past and present, especially Jenn Lawrence and current wonderboy, Bryan Coffelt. And of course, my lovely fiance, B. Frayn Masters, has been a huge contributor to the press for eight years now.

Popping some champagne with Disjecta's main man, Bryan Suereth.

Again–many thanks to everyone. You can see some a lot more pics of the party on Mykle Hansen’s Flickr page. The photos on this post were by the great Leann O’Rourke.

And if you missed out on the fun, we’ll probably do it again in five more years, and I’ll remember to thank everyone that night.

Tour Diary: New Orleans and Oxford

Frayn and me at Rowan Oak

It’s been a few days since I blogged about our travels and a lot has happened. If you’re on Facebook you can see some photos there too if you’re curious.

Right now, we’re in Memphis, hanging out at the Peabody Hotel checking our Internet stuff (free wi-fi) and watching the ducks get escorted from the famous lobby fountain to the roof (a beautiful and comic spectacle).

Here is what has been happening the past couple of days/cities:

We got into New Orleans on Saturday and checked into the Hilton by the French Quarter (Thanks, Rupert Murdoch!). We had just enough energy to go for a quick stroll through the quarter. It was pretty rainy that day so the streets were wet but spirits were still hot and high. It was the first time Frayn had ever been there and we got dinner and drinks to celebrate.

The next morning, our friend Pia Z. Ehrhardt picked us up and gave us a tour of her city. It really is one of the best cities in the country, even with the struggles and aftermath of Katrina and the levee disaster. We drove through the lower 9th ward and saw some of the destroyed homes and trashed lots nuzzled right next to the new (and odd) “Brad Pitt houses” that he’s had built down there. We drove through the beautiful city park, next to the museum and by the school where Pia teaches. Then she took us to her super sweet home and fed us red beans and rice.

frayn, me, and Pia

From there we went to the Maple Street Bookstore. My agent, New Orleans superhero Michael Murphy, met us there and I read a few chapters of ACP to a small crowd (Houston–you no longer hold the record for smallest turnout!).

We spent some time with Michael and went to Octavia Books and signed a stack of books there too (if you live in NOLA, go to either of those stores to get your signed copy!). We went (of course) to Cafe Du Monde and later we stumbled on a place called Marigny Brasserie for a delicious dinner.

The next night we made it just in time for my 5:00 event at Square Books with Claudia Smith and Mary Miller. They do a cool thing there, where they have drinks (wine, whiskey, and ginger ale!) and snacks out for people before the readings start at 5:30, so it was nice to relax a little and catch up with Mary and Claudia and meet the super cool folks at Square Books, Michael Bible and David Swider. Not to mention, Lynn Roberts, the store manager.

Claudia started things off with a few stories from Put Your Head In My Lap and then Mary Miller read a great story from Big World. We took a quick drink break before I was to read and then before I went up to the podium–I shit you not!–John Grisham walked out with store owner and former mayor, Richard Howarth (who is also a legend around Mississippi). “He doesn’t usually do this,” Howarth started. “But John Grisham wanted to share some words with y’all.” It was a pretty odd moment, a lot of people looked at each other, thinking it was some sort of prank. But then we realized it really was John Grisham and he stood up there and read for ten minutes from his new book, Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer. This whole experience was also strange because I had, just an hour or so beforehand, been trying to point out Grisham’s giant house off the side of the highway to Frayn as we entered Oxford.

When Grisham was done reading, Howarth invited Mary and Claudia and I up for a photo op. “So people will believe you when you say you read with John Grisham,” he said. The bestselling autho did stick around til the end of the reading, but I’m not sure if he bought any of our books. 🙂

Miller, Sampsell, Grisham, Smith

When I got up to read after that, I joked, “I called John earlier today to see if he wanted to open up for me but I didn’t think he’d show up.”

The whole experience of reading at Square Books was great. Local writers like the awesome Tom Franklin and the hilarious Jack Pendarvis were also there, along with a nice (and surprisingly big) crowd made up of younger student types. I guess summer school still packs them in at Ole Miss.

After the reading we went with a gang of folks to City Grocery for drinks and then Ajax, one of the great eateries in the Square. After dinner, we loaded straws up with toothpicks and shot them into the ceiling, as the tradition allows. I got about six toothpicks embedded in that sucker.

We stayed for two night with Tom Fanklin and Beth Ann Fennelly, in their luxurious guest house. Breakfast was had at Big Bad Breakfast, a place where all the food are named after southern writers and books. We had dinner at another great place next door to that called Snackbar. And we visited Faulkner’s place, Rowan Oak. All in all, it was a GREAT time in Oxford and probably the highlight of this trip so far.

My breakfast at Big Bad Breakfast

We’re now here in Memphis for a quick stop and then off to Atlanta tomorrow to hang with Blake Butler, Jamie Iredell, Amy McDaniel, and our friends there. More travel adventures and pics to come. Thanks for reading!

Tour Diary: More Houston

Yesterday, we met up with Ryan Call, who took us around Houston to see some more sites. Our original plan was to go to the Breakfast Klub but the line to get in was wrapped around the building. We were warned this might be the case. Apparently their chicken and waffles are worth the wait. But then, I thought of a good alternatives: “Why don’t we find some of those breakfast tacos we’ve been hearing so much about?” Bingo.

We went to a place called Tacos-a-Go-Go. I had my tacos with eggs, bacon, cheese, and potatoes (I like my food orange and white colors). They were pretty darn tasty. Frayn had eggs, spinach, mushroom, black beans, and cheese in hers. She was also pleased.

Frayn, post-tacos!

After that, we snagged some coffee (it’s not as prevalent here, but we have managed) and then headed off to see some junk and art. Houston has some awesome art–and we didn’t even make it to the main Museum of Fine Art.

But first, we went to the Texas Junk Shop. We gabbed with the owner and looked for cowboy boots and cowboy hats (there were tons) and Ryan and I played with the various trophies and album covers.

Bowling Champion!


Then we went to the Rothko Chapel. This was something that Mike McGonigal had told me about a couple of weeks ago. Apparently, if you linger inside the chapel for five or ten minutes, the dark paintings start to reveal more than you expect. Like some kind of weird hallucinogenic. I saw a little bit but it was Frayn who had the most reaction the art. I stood beside her and listened to her quietly gasp and whisper things like, “Oh my God.” And I was like: “What? What do you see?” It was kind of funny, especially since I thought my acid-trained brain would see these secret images more readily.

Here. I’ll let Frayn tell you about it:

“Like Kevin said, the paintings seemed to be giant washes of purple, blue and black with no image. The room is dimly lit, but the light fluctuates slightly every few seconds. After turning off my brain and staring at the middle panel of three paintings, the light changed and I saw a pair of what I swear were giant yellow eyes staring back at me. This created my first gasp. Then the nose took form, then the full lips of a man. It was incredible. Because I really thought there was nothing there, I didn’t know what to expect. Then another face took shape in the panel next to it.  With each new painting I felt anxiety and sadness that I wouldn’t be able to see what was there. The most incredible face to appear took some real time to see. It was always the eyes that appeared first and these eyes were almond-shaped and looking off right. Again the nose next, then the lips of younger man. But, then the light shifted and I gasped again because a tear fell from the right eye. It fell. There was movement on the painting. Then behind the head a large, white ’70s office building appeared with green tree leaves in front of it. I saw next that the building transferred over into the panel next to the face. The light shifted again and a word appeared across the face. RELATE. It was a fucking trip. Amazing. These words do not justify the experience.”

Ladies and gentlemen, Frayn Masters!

After that, we went to the Menil Collection next door. They had a great collection of surrealist and nouveau realist work (Yves Klein, Picasso, Ernst, Magritte, and Warhol). My favorite pieces were Maurizio Cattelan’s marble (!) sculpture of nine body bags on the floor (titled All, 2007) and his untitled dead horse with a sign sticking out of it saying “INRI.”

The rest of the day we spent cruising around and then relaxing at Gene’s house.

Now, we’re off to drive to New Orleans. Look for another update sometime this weekend.

Tour Diary: Houston

Well, it finally happened. Frayn and I pulled up to Kaboom Books last night just in time for our reading with Kirby Johnson and Ryan Call and we were the only ones there. I’ve been fortunate to have good luck with my touring thus far, getting good crowds at every event. The previous low turnout was at Books Inc in San Francisco when 15 people came.

It made me feel a little worse last night because the store owners actually had bottles of wine and some snacks spread out on a table. We talked with Kirby and Ryan and eventually a few other people came straggling in. A half hour later, we started the reading and there were 12 people to see us. We read on the back patio. The weather was a little more wet and cool than Austin since it had rained earlier in the day. We were quick and efficient with our readings. Kirby read a funny spoof about Extreme Home Makeover, Ryan read a story about a kid struggling with baldness, and Frayn read a tale about a horny couple looking for someplace to have sex. I finished things off with the ACP chapter about taking nude photos. It turned out to be a pretty great event.

Kirby Johnson

Ryan Call

B. Frayn Masters

Everyone there was really nice, including some dude named “Drummerpoet” who recited a poem to us after the reading. It was about how much he liked TV when he was a kid and it rhymed. It was pretty smooth actually.

About six of us went out afterward and got some drinks and grub at a place called Onion Creek, which was pretty good. I got something called a Frito Pie (ironically, without onions)–it was a mess of chili on a bed of Fritos and cheese on it. For some reason, I thought there was supposed to be a hot dog under all that, but I was mistaken. There was no dog. 😦

After that, we went to a famous place downtown called La Carafe, a cash bar with a lot of years behind it. Not to mention, a gigantic boar’s head above the front door.

The topics of discussion included hunting, cockroaches that hide in ivy, the wonders of Galveston, why some people have southern accents and some don’t, and the dumb controversy about the recent Tin House submission rules.

At the end of the night, we returned to the home of Gene Morgan, who’s letting us stay here while he and his family is away. Thanks, Gene!

Ryan is coming back over to pick us up soon and we’re going to explore the city more with him today. Some places called The Breakfast Club, the Rothko Chapel, and the Texas Junk Shop are on the list of places to go. Until tomorrow…thanks for reading.

Southern Sizzle

Hey y’all,

I am in the middle of setting up some southern road trip readings for July. Take a gander at the Book Tour page and see if I’m coming your way. I’ll be reading with my fiance, B. Frayn Masters, at most stops. So far I’ve got Houston, New Orleans, and Atlanta set. Still working to confirm Austin somewhere (the great Amelia Gray and Elizabeth Crane are helping us iron something out there) and I am also holding out hope that we can do something in Oxford, Mississippi. I actually see that Mary Karr is reading at Square Books the same night we’re there. Should I crash the Mary Karr reading? Ha!

Now here’s the catch. This is going to be an expensive trip. We’re flying to Austin and then renting a car for about ten days. Does anyone want to sponsor my tour and give us money to cover these expenses? We could put an ad on our rental car or something. Imagine, a big RC Cola ad on the side of our vehicle. Or Billie Jo’s Computer Repair. Johnny’s Bar-B-Q?

Thankfully we have some places to stay while on the road.

Can’t wait for that southern sizzle and hospitality.

East Coast photo album!

Hello March! Now that the majority of my touring is over, I can relax at home and (hopefully) do some more writing and blogging.

While in New York and Baltimore two weeks ago, Frayn was able to snap some cool pics. My favorites are the ones taken at Adam Robinson’s apartment. Mr. Robinson, as you may know, is a gifted (yes, gifted!) poet, publisher of Publishing Genius Press, and now the host of “Culinary Genius,” a uh, cooking show that um, takes place in Adam’s, um, beautif–err, minimalist-style kitchen. I bet these photos really make you want to see the show, huh?

That’s Joseph Young, author of Easter Rabbit, on the flipcam and Frayn in the mirror. We’re making chicken bacon feta spinach salad.

And here’s Michael Kimball, who hosted my Baltimore event with Jen Michalski, on the other flipcam (yes, this was a two camera production).

I like how Adam is like a headless blur in this photo. It’s like we’re in a Sub Pop band or something.

And then we ate.

But we only had a few minutes before we had to take off for the reading…

In New York, I had two great readings–one at the In the Flesh series…

…and the other at Word in Brooklyn. I was joined by Justin Taylor at both, whose great story collection was recently raved about in the New York Times. We share a publisher and editor. Here he is, the young mastermind, Michael Signorelli, introducing us.

Here’s Mr. Taylor

Earlier that day, we visited him at the HarperCollins offices (conveniently right next to our hotel). We saw this great display of books in the lobby.

And here’s a staged photo of Sig and I pretending to edit something. Or maybe we’re arguing about royalties…

It was a great time. Thanks to everyone who came out.

In the Flesh at Happy Ending

I just got back from a great four readings in four nights trip to the East Coast. I’ll be posting some photos from these nights–all great fun and very special–very soon, thanks to my lovely camera-ready fiance.

I was lucky to read with the fabulous Justin Taylor at the first three of these: Harvard Bookstore in Boston, In the Flesh reading in New York (see above video!!), and Word Bookstore in Brooklyn. I wrapped up my journeys with an outstanding night in Baltimore, at Michael Kimball’s 510 Reading Series.

Some other highlights from the trip:

Having a cool hotel room right next to HarperCollins in Manhattan and discovering a place called Crumbs just around the corner.

Getting interviewed for an upcoming episode of The Bat Segundo Show!

Filming the first episode of Culinary Genius with Publishing Genius’s Adam Robinson in his tiny Baltimore kitchen. I think it will turn out chaotic, hilarious, and hopefully entertaining.

Getting lost on the trains in Boston, which is a really cool city.

Getting a super sweet 5-star review in Time Out New York.

Doing backflips on hotel beds while Frayn rates my style and technique.

This coming weekend–Chicago and Ann Arbor!

And photos real soon.

About Last Night

Last night was one of those nights that seemed too good to be true. I had my first reading from ACP in front of around 200 people at Powell’s. My dear friend, Frances Miller, started it off with a killer intro that left me teary-eyed and barely able to begin. But I turned down the lights and read eight short parts of the book while doing a slide show. I choked up again while reading a chapter about my brother. Then after the Q&A, I invited Barb to come up and stand next to me while I tried to hold it together for the grand finale. Of course, it was futile. The tears came as I got on my knee and asked her to marry me. I was pretty much lost in that moment right then but I heard later (from reliable sources) that Barb and I weren’t the only ones crying.

After the reading there was a great after-party at Blitz (getting engaged means free drinks I found out) and I was able to visit with more friends while Barb showed off her fake-bling ring. We’ll be shopping for the real thing soon.

Thanks again to everyone who came out for this special night.



(photos by Jonathan Selwood)

And look–now there’s video (Thanks, MD)

Video Gift From My Baby

Yesterday, on the first day of my memoir’s shelf life, my beautiful girlfriend, Frayn Masters (I call her Barb) presented me with an incredibly awesome gift. She snuck around under the cloak of darkness (and the Internet) and asked a bunch of our friends to give recorded and written huzzahs for A Common Pornography. He is the epic and sweet (and sometimes ridiculous) result! Thanks to everyone (names below) who sent their love. Right back at ya!

In order of appearance: Zachary Schomburg & Emily Kendal Frey, Steve Almond, Davy Rothbart, Brandon Freels, Dan Kennedy, Mary Van Note, Sean Wilsey, Stephen Kurowski, Jeffrey Yamaguchi, Eric Spitznagel, Magdalen Powers, Beth Lisick, Blake Nelson, Frances Miller & Mycal Quaempts, Chelsea Martin, Claudia Smith, Hayley Barker, Andrew Monko, Matt Sampsell, Chris Ballew & Kate Endle, Melissa Lion & Archer, Gigi Little, Bob Gaulke, Chris Faatz, Bryan Coffelt, Reuben Nisenfeld, and (Barb)Frayn Masters.