Brad's benefit was great. First rate readings and music. It seemed like everything read was yet unpublished, too, which made you feel extra special, being there for it. Actually, I'm not certain about Emily Chenoweth's and Margaret Malone's pieces. Margaret said she was going to read an old piece, so it may be a published story I just hadn't heard about. Things labeled as "old pieces" shouldn't be allowed to be that good. They should be the quaint efforts of an earlier period, which you smile over and say, but you can see the beginnings of her greatness here, and here. Also, things Margaret says she re-read after a number of years and thought oh god this is horrid... shouldn't be allowed to be that good either. Damn it.
Monica Drake, first in the lineup, read from a novel in progress. Funny, endlessly quirky and surprising. She writes her crazy situations with a matter-of-fact sureness that adds to the humor. Really enjoyed it.
Tom Spanbauer also read from a novel in progress. It was a piece he'd read in Dangerous Writing some time back--so lush and brilliant. And dreamlike. It's been amazing to follow the creation of this book--and to see Tom go to places even he hasn't gone before.
Emily Chenoweth read two different pieces, each about guns. I hadn't read her before. She has an easy style full of great details and truths. She was a charming reader--even breaking into her own piece to tell an impromptu story that had just happened, about kids making a drug (?) exchange on her front lawn.
Cheryl Strayed's piece was from her soon-to-be-out memoir, Wild. Wow, amazing, stark revelations from her life. I think it's going to be a fascinating book. With a top story about Cheryl hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and all sorts of very personal stories underneath.
OK, update--Margaret's story was a published piece--her first, she told me. Meaning it was her first publication, not meaning she hasn't published since, because she has.
I got to give Tom his second round of applause and then do an intro for Closureyes. Though the mic sounded plenty loud to me as I spoke, apparently I wasn't quite loud enough. A lot of us weren't quite loud enough, with all the bar noise going on in the back of the room. What I said was that Colin Farstad, who is part of Closureyes and was also the host for the evening and the man behind setting up the event, is also an excellent writer. I had heard Closureyes' music before but never live. It's great--edgy and raucus but also a lovely sound.
Brad--the man of the evening--they even got him up there to speak. Well-deserved standing ovation. Even still recovering from the infection and the surgery, he wrote an impromptu piece and got up to read to us. It was full of his great voice and was a very heartfelt thank you to a lot of people who have been there for him during all this.
It was a packed house and the event raised about two thousand dollars. Not long after, I discovered that the on-off button on my computer had disengaged and was sort of floating around inside, and I had that initial impulse reaction of, oh @#%$*%# do I have to buy a new computer now? Prices of computers started hitting me in the head, and in the moment after I pulled myself out of a downward spiral of NoNoNoMommyNo, it hit me that you could buy a measly computer with what was raised for Brad's enormous medical burden. There's a bit of perspective for you. But there's more that can be done.
Donations can be made to the cause by simply going into any Wells Fargo Bank and saying, I'd like to donate to Brad Rosen.
18 minutes ago