So, so, so I went on that rad three-stop tour with bookmates Christopher Newgent and Brian Oliu, along with the incredible (read: HOW DID WE GET HIM TO COME WITH US) Matt Bell. A bunch of people and entities and webfaces have posted stuff about this wacky trip, so I'm gonna pull together a bunch of that goodness and add some yapping of my own. Okay, cool:
Our days went like (Wednesday big drive to Tuscaloosa and reading), (Thursday day off in Tuscaloosa; Peter Markus/Jenny Boully reading; DJ Oliu dance party!), (Friday drive to Atlanta; incredible Vouched ATL reading with Amy McDaniel, J Bradley, and Melysa Martinez), (Saturday drive to Nashville; chill coffee shop reading), and (Sunday 16 hours on the road; drop Bell off in Ann Arbor, back to Indy/Elwood). I ended up being in a car for like 2000 miles in five days. IT WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT.
Christopher Newgent continues to lift up my literary coolness, steady my shaky idiothead, and be a better friend than most I've ever had. He continues to write super affecting sad stories and short snappy poems. He continues to yell out windows with me and throw his hands in the air with me. He began disc golf with me. He continues to drive me cool places. He is a solid fucking writer, more importantly, dude.
Matt Bell is one of the reasons I do this silly writing thing. He was the first "small press" writer I ever read/knew/met. He gave me my first chance to help with a press/magazine, with The Collagist. Because of geography/busyness, this is the first time we've got to hang out for an extended period of time. He's is one of the most thoughtful men I know, and by far, one of my favorite readers. Cataclysm Baby is bound to be a classic on my fiction shelf (and should be on yours too!). What an honor to get to pal around with him for five days.
Brian Oliu is a legit human being, that versatile creature. He holds it down as a DJ, writes some moving lyric essays, can yap-yap (good yapping) on and on about video games, sports, music, books, etc. etc. etc., and as Matt Bell said, "I still don't know what the Crimson Tide mascot looks like, but it should look like Brian Oliu, because he Roll Tides harder than anyone." This is the second time Oliu has hosted me as a reader and as a friend in Tuscaloosa and absolutely those are some of my favorite readings/nights in recent memories. KEEPS IT REAL is what I'm saying.
All three readings were spectacular in their own way. Tuscaloosa being overwhelming with that amazing MFA program's people coming out and talking and buying books and being nice. Atlanta being incredible, seeing the amazing Laura Straub of Vouched Books ATL do here thing, meeting some rad people (Michael Straub! Melysa Martinez! Amy McDaniel! Jamie Iredell! Kory Calico! ETC!), falling in love with that scene/city. Nashville chilling us out before our big Sunday drive, getting to poemyell in a coffee shop, eating the most expensive personal pan pizza of my life.
Basically what I'm saying is, I'm rejuvenated. Basically what I'm saying is, I'm going to keep doing this. Basically what I'm saying is, my brain and body are still mush from all the fun and words and booze. Basically what I'm saying is, HOW LUCKY I AM TO GET TO DRIVE AROUND AND READ WITH THESE THREE AMAZING GUYS. Basically what I'm saying is, I needed this and it happened. Basically what I'm saying, every person who came to a reading is amazing. Basically what I'm saying is, thank you so much for helping put me back together.
Here's a bunch of stuff from around the web and such that I liked a lot and wanna archive here and maybe you will like it too:
Laura Straub's recap of the Atlanta Reading
Jesse Bradley's recordings of each reader at the Atlanta Reading
Here is my video from that reading
Patrick Trotti did a nice little recap on the Tiny Hardcore blog
My Favorite Pictures from the Over The Top Tour Twitter
My Favorite posts from the Over The Top Tour Twitter
- Matt spends as much time on the phone w/ his wife as his loving Facebook posts would suggest.
- "It's just my spirit animal: enormously cocked dragons."- Matt
- "Let's go to a strip club tonight! We'll put the loose back in Tuscaloosa!"- Me
- Rest area? No thanks! We don't rest; we ROLL TIDE.
- "15yr old girls love sleeping."- Brian
- I WAMT SNUGGLES - Christopher
- Sex Tips By Strunk & White: if you double space after the period during cyber sex, it makes you look old.- Matt
Christopher Newgent's FB recap
1874.3 miles, and I don't have enough space to say all I could possibly say about last week's Over the Top Tour, but a quick spattering of highlights are that Matt Bell gets Seth Rogan voice after a few bourbons, Brian Oliu can keep a dance floor going for hours without the party dropping, playing disc golf in tank tops with Tyler Gobble could easily be a new favorite hobby, Laura Straub is as fantastic a reading series host as you might expect and will climb fences she's too scared to climb if you tell her to imagine a zombie situation, her husband Michael still has one of the best laughs ever, Amy McDaniel is the consummate party host, Michael Martone's to-read shelf has to be full to collapsing and I'm so happy to have my book on that shelf, it's always great to carve out time to laugh with Blake Butler and Jamie Iredell, and the Nashville crew of Todd Dills, John Minichillo, and Chet Weise is ultimately forgiving of 4 dudes crashing into their town and slobbering tired in their coffeeshops, still willing to support our books, to buy us wine and keep a tired conversation moving. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the 3 dudes who made the trip with me, and the hundreds of people who made it what it was. I could never tag you all here.Brian Oliu FB Post
Happy Easter from a Nashville Airport Hotel! We are singing "Hungry Eyes". 5:30am flight back to Alabama. Gonna miss these dudes. Such a great few days & some really awesome readings.
Matt Bell's FB recap
A short selection of the things I learned this past week: That being a vegetarian in the south is about three times the commitment it is in the north. That the people of Tuscaloosa are great hosts and perhaps better dancers. That Laura Straub is among the best reading series hosts I've seen. That Tyler Gobble is the best part of a tank top. That Christopher Newgent is the only person I have never seen lose at arm wrestling (three bout minimum). That I still don't know what the Crimson Tide mascot looks like, but it should look like Brian Oliu, because he Roll Tides harder than anyone. That when Amy McDaniel invites you into her home she makes a mean vegetarian chili and a meaner chocolate chip cookie. That Jesse Bradley will kindly record your reading and have it posted to the internet before you can finish breakfast the next day. That fewer people will come to a reading in Nashville, but that all of them will come drinking afterward, winning their city some kind of percentage-based prize. That being on a Greyhound and then a car and then a car and then a car and then a car is well worth it, if its with these people, or brings you to them and many more. I'm very glad to be home and awaiting Jessica's return from her own travels, but also very grateful to everyone who made this past week so much fun.