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Conjunctions #39: Peter Straub, Gahan Wilson, Kelly Link, Stephin Merritt, China Mieville

Tuesday, January 28th, 2003, The New School, 66 West 12th

What a supercool reading this turned out to be! Multimedia and everything! So far every Peter Straub event I’ve attended has been really supergreat. He had a nice reading at a now-defunct Shakespeare & Co. on the Upper West awhile ago and was great, the Town Hall show with Stephen King, John Grisham and Pat Conroy was over-the-top with incredibleness, and Tuesday night Peter organized a reading of a few of the pieces of fiction in Conjunctions #39, which he edited summer 2002. Boy, he is one plugged-in dude. It’s great when writers remain adventurous in their reading material. It’s fairly normal to constantly call upon your friends you’ve known for years and have fairly well-known authors move with you, but here Peter has tapped into newer writers just making their own splashes here and there, and he’s really hit a high trumpet note with this collection.

Kelly Link is nothing short of incredible. Absolutely inventive and fun and I’m really glad she’s a girl. Her genitalia effects her art with a playfulness that I’m afraid a male would use in too terse a manner. Kelly is fun. I like that. China Mieville is just darned spooky! His reading was scary! Add Gahan Wilson’s back-projected illustrations, the under-lighting doing that spooky thing, and China’s British accent and you’ve got a hot night in the old house tonight. Usually bald men with British accents make me crazy (I hated Trainspotting), but here I’m applauding these accoutrements. About halfway through the evening, much to my surprise, Stephin Merritt of Magnetic Fields took the stage with a small ukelele-looking string instrument and played four songs in his low dreary voice. Later, talking to LD Beghtol, Funeral Party 2’s designer (and soon redesigning Peter Straub’s website), I find that Stephin has been a long-time friend of the Straub family. What a teeny planet!

Gahan was as funny and incredible as ever as the emcee of the event. Sadly though, Mr. John Crowley’s reading was much to long and his delivery was a little flat, and almost afraid of the stage and microphone, though the preceding almost two hours of hot reading overrode the lack of a punch to the end of the evening.

Really super stuff. If you’re into checking out some cool bold new fun fiction, you really can’t go wrong with Conjunctions #39. Peter Straub is much more that horror and mystery; he’s a real life-liver and this volume clearly states his eclectlectric approach to existence. Maybe it’s all that jazz music or something that has his fiction eye strolling up and down and back and forth and twisting in and out. Whatever it is, I’m glad it’s here.

The night was fun also with Ellen Datlow attending, and the superfab Jack Womack in tow with his Russian wife. Mmmm… I love the Russian voice. HWA NYC members, Nick Kaufmann, Lee Thomas and Kris Dikeman also rode along for the night. Fun is good!