Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How to be a good live reading audience member

This is a guest post by
Caleb J Ross as part of his Stranger Will Tour for Strange blog tour. He will be guest-posting beginning with the release of his novel Stranger Will in March 2011 to the release of his second novel, I Didn’t Mean to Be Kevin and novella, As a Machine and Parts, in November 2011. If you have connections to a lit blog of any type, professional journal or personal site, please contact him. To be a groupie and follow this tour, subscribe to the Caleb J Ross blog RSS feed. Follow him on Twitter: Friend him on Facebook:

Etiquette is important. Whether downing clam chowder or chowing down on a clam, understanding the context of any event and knowing how best to position yourself within it is an important skill. This knowledge-set extends also into the world of live literature readings. Long assumed by literary outsiders to be trivial, boring, mind-numbing, boring, despicable, boring events, the live reading fits these descriptions only to the untrained mind. So, let me train some minds.

1. Bring friends. You don’t have to bring the friends that you want to keep, but if you know one or two annoying hangers-on, trick them into coming with you on the rouse of a few photo-ops with your permission that you can be tagged for the Facebook album. Who am I kidding? If you are going to a book reading, you don’t have many friends, let alone ones you can risk losing. So bring that frumpy girlfriend and the awkward guy and get ready to have an appropriately adequate evening.

2. Pretend you are a fan. To the author, the live reading is the equivalent of a twink going down on a Van Nuys, CA movie director in hopes of a starring role in an upcoming porn adaptation of the early 90s sitcom “Life Goes On” (that was a sitcom, right?). Basically, don’t be afraid to get on your knees and…worship the author. Go ahead and stroke his…ego. Besides, he may just make you famous.

3. Don’t be a rogue decibel. As most fancy things are, book readings are quiet. Eating caviar, sipping fine scotch, ruling poor people, all of these are done quietly (in addition to fancy-ily). Literary readings, for the most part, are true to this rule of fanciness. It’s not that the audience doesn’t want to stir up a mosh pit and scream, but when that happens, the reader cannot be heard. Now, if the reader has a microphone and is fronting a punk collective trashcan ensemble, then screaming might be appropriate. When it doubt, copy other people. If everyone else is moshing, mosh you should.

4. Buy a book. Most readings don’t charge admission. So, consider a book purchase the equivalent of dirty money in the hand of a dirty bouncer. Yes, it is true that you might already have all of the author’s books. So, if you are such the fan that already having the books would imply, then…

5. Open you pages to a signature. It’s okay. Just a little scribble. It doesn’t mean anything. Don’t worry about it. Nobody will find out. Just let him crease that spine and spill a few drops of ink on your pasty white pages. There you go. Doesn’t that feel good? It feels good for him, too. Like a conquest. His greasy fingerprints will live forever on your bookshelf.

6. Ask the author to get a beer after the reading. Especially if this author’s name is Caleb J. Ross.

Photo credit: Designated Disaster

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