On some nights, you just know you’re going to bomb. If you’re lucky, someone’s there to record it.
Mickey Hess went first. He couldn’t buy a laugh in that overheated art gallery. And his story was funnier than the one I was planning on reading. Joe Meno went second. He met a wall of apathy. And his story was more heartfelt than the one I was planning on reading. I knew the signs.
I’d done so many readings at this point that I knew exactly how to react: read the shortest of my stories and call it a night. For some reason, I didn’t follow that very simple advice. Maybe it was the swampy Montreal summer heat making me ornery. Maybe it was something about the crowd. They were too urban, too hip for a rogue like me. Maybe I just felt like lingering over a long story. Who knows.
Anyway, in the face of the hostile crowd, I picked the longest story in my repertoire, and I read it nice and slowly. Eighteen minutes, all told. And the owner of the art gallery recorded it. Slapped it up on the web for anyone to hear.
Last night, I was thinking about bummer readings and this night in Montreal in 2005 came to mind. I knew that the art gallery owner had posted this sucker online. I wondered if it was still there. A quick Google search revealed that it is. So, if you’re interested, you’re welcome to listen to a hot and awkward live reading of my short story “The Last Days at Fulton County Stadium” from the collection Barney’s Crew. Just click the link below.