Yesterday afternoon, I attended a six hour marathon reading that a friend organized. It was a celebration of the 40th anniversary of The Adventures of Mao on the Long March by Frederic Tuten. Many writers gathered at the Jane Hotel to read it in its entirety; about a page or two per author.
I came two hours into it so I had missed Tuten’s opening remarks and some of the readers. A secret that most writers barely admit is that 97% of the time we actually don’t enjoy public readings and we have to go to so many of them. We go to support our friends or see a writer we admire and to sample the free wine & cheese that usually accompanies these events. So, I went because my friend had invited me (I must plead ignorance–I really know nothing of Long March beyond the fact that it has been labelled avant garde) and to see the inside of the Jane Hotel. It was beautiful and ornate and gave me a reason to wander into the establishment without being interrogated by a bellhop or forced to buy a $12 glass of wine.
When I walked in, the organizers gave me a pamphlet with some interesting information about the novel and author, along with the list of readers. I also snagged a few buttons with Mao’s illustrated face from the book cover. However, I don’t where I would pin them, so they might be retired to my mantle.
There had to have been hundreds of people there. The room was packed on both levels. I stayed for about an hour and caught up with some people I hadn’t seen in awhile. I knew I had to make my exit when a puppet version of Mao came out and the puppeteer read in some strange voice.