We announce a reading to take place on May, 10, 2011.
We do this because this nice fellow asked if we had any design-type work he could do for free. We didn't.
But then we think we'll announce a reading far in the future.
Nice fellow makes a nice poster.
We send a spam-type announcement to over 700 people announcing a reading in eight years.
People respond with things like "ok, see you in two weeks at the reading."
Jeez: it's in 2011, people!
So we decide to actually have a reading on May 10, 2003, just in case five or six show up expecting a reading.
But then we decide to have a reading where no one reads. Or really where everyone reads. But they do so silently for an hour.
And we invite everyone in the world to read. We even compare it to that bike-protest thing Critical Mass. But way geekier: books, not bikes. No riding through red lights. Just reading.
(Someone in the ULA replies to a more private announcement we send out like this: "I'm not much for reading my stuff out loud, but I like literature and the park, so I might come on by.")
And so May 10, 2003 comes around.
The day of the Silent Reading!
And does anyone "come on by"?
Does anyone give a fuck about sitting around in Central Park on a Saturday evening, reading silently, bunched together, sort of telepathically tangling each and every narrative received through the ole ocularities?
Does anyone receive an antique clockface as a free gift?
Does anyone receive the mixed CD-R we made especially for the occasion?
Does anyone go out after and drink and flirt and make sweet chaka khan til dawn?
We wouldn't know . . .
We go to a BBQ in Red Hook, right around 6:00PM, having convinced myself (ourself?) that any reading done at The Silent Reading should proceed smoothly and silently whether the "organizer" is there or not. Not like it's "our" silent reading, but everyone's. We is not just me, no? You understand, yes?
Plus, there's this BBQ in Red Hook we'd like to attend. And we've never been there. And a friend is in from Philly. And his mama, who we haven't seen for years. And there are fajitas. And a backyard. And a rat. And a dog that wards the rat off. And a roof from where we see such things as The Statue of Liberty and a huge pile of salt. Or sand.
And then we go to Sonny's just after midnight. A brass band plays "Happy Birthday" for a Scandanavian supermodel-type woman as we walk in. Then we talk about how "people" in Red Hook really want it to change so they can say they lived there before "everyone" else. As though in the history of the city they weren't half-a-blip before the demographic bump. And we talk about how fantasy baseball players just exchange time talking about their teams with other players, not giving a shit about anything other than their time to talk. Then it gets late. And I think we talk about other things too. At one point, the word "lathe" is defined.
So where were you? What happened? Why weren't you there? On Saturday at 6:30? What the fuck?!?
Let us know, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org?
And if you
were there, please send an e-mail to:
If you weren't there, but would like to let us
know how it went, please send an account of the reading to:
Watch this space for announcements pertaining to future silent readings where people, including people like "we," might actually attend. And watch this space for eyewitness accounts of what actually happened. Or what actually might have actually happened had anyone been there. Or what happened while nothing was silently not happening when it should have been or might have been or who the hell knows what, where, when, what, and who. . .
THE REPORTS COME ROLLIN' IN
Because I was brave enough to bring a book (and two friends who have participated in numerous Critical Mass events, should the need for knowledge of such calorie-burning group efforts be required) all the way from Brooklyn to Central Park on Saturday, I felt the need to share with you how events transpired while you were in Red Hook. And because I often can't relate events without putting them in essay form with a lovely long-winded title-case headline, I've sent my account in this form.
I hope you enjoy it. If you have questions after reading these run-on sentences you should email me. Then you should plan another one of these things because nice people showed up for it.
This Is How A Small Group Of Brave Souls Came Together At The South End Of The Literary Walk In Central Park On A Saturday Evening In Early Spring
After an easy rapport was established with a few jokes about clearing calendars for the 2011 event, the small mass of critical readers settled in on some benches and started a conversation about silent reading. A lot of talking was accomplished, with some speculation as to whether the real reading might be taking place elsewhere, and some trepidation about the fact that the elusive Mr. Lee Klein might be hiding somewhere taking photographs of our meager reading attempts for his perfectly entertaining and informative website.
After an exchange on who was reading what, the great lot of us (eight, to be exact) pretended to read while some photos were taken to commemorate the event. In which case, I'm the blonde girl pretending to read (because who can really read when you're waiting for someone to show up with an antique clock face to officially declare the start of a silent reading?).
I was there. I was looking at a Paul Auster book in my lap and questioning the irony of reading a Brooklyn author's trilogy about this city at a silent reading of this nature. I mean, come on, everyone knows the choice of books for such an event can make or break a reading reputation. Luckily for me, not many people were there, and those who were there laughed with (not at) me as we all realized the Paul Auster irony together. In other words, it wasn't as pretentious as some "reading" things have been known to be, and instead there was a certain amount of pride in each of our minds for having taken a risk and tried to read silently together.
You might have been wondering as you viewed the skyline from your Red Hook vantage point how all the silent readers would find each other if they were indeed reading silently in Central Park. Well, being punctual creatures by nature, Eyeshot readers arrived early and looked for like-minded individuals silently bearing books. Not surprisingly, those who were willing to participate in such a venture were all of the same mindset, and even though there were people present from Colorado, Kentucky, Manhattan and Brooklyn, we were easily identified as silent readers (i.e., quiet, except around other silent readers who read Eyeshot).
So that's how it all began. The ending came easily after the pictures were taken and the group-wide goal of sending said pictures was unanimously approved.
From: Andrew Helm
I tried to make it. I really, really did. But I think I took a wrong turn somewhere in St. Louis. Oh, and I haven't been to Central Park in over 19 years (since I was around 8 or so), and I doubt I could find it anyway (being in the 'middle' of that big city and all).
Driving from Denver to New York apparently takes longer than the "few hours" my brother told me it would take, so really I'm afraid it was futile anyway, leaving at noon the day of the reading and all. Oh well, maybe next time.
P.S. I am in some city called Fort Wayne right now. Do you know anyone there? Or perhaps you could just advise me how to get back to Colorado?
I have not one, but several very good excuses for not being at the silent reading in central park.
And here they all are:
1. I live in philadelphia and it's a huge pain in the ass to take the train up to new york to sit in the park for an hour reading to myself. I can barely find the time to do that in philly.
2. I was invited to perform with a friend of mine's improv group at around the same time on the lower east side.
3. I had negative forty-five dollars in my banking account and was forced to borrow money so that I could experience excuse #4.
4. I was very hung-over due to a bunch of writers coming down from new york for a reading the night prior and then invited us all out for an after party at a bar with carpets on the ceiling before being led by some misguided individual to a bar where they sell a shot and a beer for three dollars despite my insistence that we would all have a better time at some-guy-that-we-met-on-the-street's college house party.
I woke up late Sunday -- 1 o'clock in the afternoon -- with an awful hangover and a vaguely familiar Arab boy lying naked next to me. I just wanted to sleep . . . and so I did. Around 3PM I nudged my young charge and let him know of my engagement. Although dark and pregnant clouds scudded over the city much of the day, as 6PM approached, I grabbed my umbrella and the manuscript of my novel, gave Mahmoud a little more to remember me by, and hit the IRT for the Park. I started reading on the subway to reacquaint myself with what I have come to consider my chef d'oevre. Entranced, I nearly forgot to exit at Hunter College. As though the universe were giving its blessing, the clouds parted and a lovely evening emerged in the Park. I could find no sign of the reading party, however, and started to feel pretty stupid. But, as it was a lovely day -- Spring, no less! -- I situated myself on the bank of the pond and reclined with my manuscript. Never has my writing seemed more beautiful, more eternal . . . more right! The swans sailed by, swaying their necks in appreciation of the Park's beauty, their beauty, and, indeed, my own beauty. As dusk approached, rosy-fingered, a glorious young Italian approached me for directions. Could I speak Italian? Yes. Do I want to fuck? Oh, yes. It was too dark by that time to read, so we left for a restaurant, drugs, alcohol, and sex. I have no regrets . . . but I do wish Lee Klein had been there.
Sent: Monday, May 12, 2003 9:54 PM
Subject: Reading for Godot
We were there, at first alone. We were there, sitting in separate confusion on the benches. At first, I thought, gee, they're fashionably late. Then after fifteen minutes the thoughts went along the lines of I'm the only sucker here. Sucker. Sucker. Sucker. It was hard to be let down like this. I couldn't believe it was happening. I mean, how could they have just stood me up?
After another five minutes of waiting, I began to realize that there were others. It was not too hard to spot us. The other parkgoers passed by with their pugs and retrievers. It was a beautiful early evening, and on their faces were expressions of carefree leisure-taking. On our faces were a common expression of bewilderment and consternation. We were like prairie dogs scanning the horizon for any sign of your arrival. In our hands were the telltale books. We found each other as we went around and asked Are you here for the...? Yes. Yes.
We began to accept what was happening. We forgave you.
There was the group from Kentucky and Colorado. There was Kirsten's Brooklyn contingent. I represented Downtown Manhattan. And we read. Yes, we read. If only a page, a sentence. If only a word. Nothing could stop us from accomplishing what we came here to do. Not your cold, heartbreaking absence. We took the ceremonial pictures, so that we can remember those who were there that day. We were there on Sunday May 11th, 2003, 6:30pm for the Silent Reading that was, and don't you forget that.
Hope Red Hook was great. Hope it was worth it.
Sent: Tuesday, May 13, 2003 12:34 AM
Subject: silent reading
Dude, I live in Australia.
And I don't know the time conversion rate.
But I may have been reading at that exact time. And it may have been an article from New Weekly magazine about a girl who faked her own death and lived in a cupboard for five years. And more than just reading, it may have even involved pointing at the pictures with friends and thinking about how many people we could sublet our apartment to if they were happy with cupboards.
The answer is seventeen. That's only $21.5-something Australian a week in rent!
From: Mark Gordon
I was there. I was one of the Colorado contingent. I thought it was strange that you mentioned the barbecue in Red Hook. I too was invited to that very same shindig. You and I must run around in the same ring of hell. Here is the conversation I had on Friday May 10th with the hostess with the mostess.
She: I'm so glad you guys are in town. We haven't seen you in ages. Funny you should call today, we are having this amazing barbecue tomorrow on the roof. There is going to be fajitas, rats, dogs, and fajitas.
She: It is going to get started sometime around 6pm. The address is xx xxx street. You guys have got to be there...it won't be a party unless you show.
She: So how have things been with you guys?
She: Great...you can fill me in tomorrow night. Remember it is tomorrow May 11 at 6 PM at Dino's loft.
Me: Oh no!!! Not tomorrow!!! I've already made prior arrangements. I'm going to central park for a silent reading.
She: A silent reading?
Me: I know it sounds stupid, but I really want to go. It is for this "deck" website called eyeshot. (Notice insertion of hipster handbook lingo, comedic effect? insecurity? all of the above?) They say they are going to be posting one of my short stories.
Me: Yeah. The editor is this really "deck" guy. He offers gentle yet constructive criticism. His website is totally rad. And I just can't wait to meet him. I just know he is going to be at the reading. And I know he is going to be just as cool as I imagined. We are going to become great friends. We are even going to go on a cruise together sometime. Sitting on the "deck" of the QE2 watching the little ones frolic in the swimming pool. Getting ready to go shoot some shotguns off the rear (stern or bow?) of the ship. Oh the cruising life will be so grand. We are going to become the best of friends. Our life together will be the lore of literary legend.
So you see. Your absence has left an abscess where my heart once rested. What am I going to do with myself now???
[Forever after at http://eyeshot.net/sr.html]
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