Saturday, November 12, 2005

Chronicle and Comments: KGB & J.T.

(Disclaimer: Today's post was written in a hurry and contains some pretentious New York City namedropping. Read at your own risk of annoyance.)

Last night I made an appearance at KGB Bar on East 4th Street for a goodbye party for an editor. She's graciously accepted my book reviews (and paid me) for a couple of years, and is now migrating west to work on her already-sold novel, so I thought it would be nice to stop by and show my face, since we'd never met in person. I hadn't been to KGB in a couple of years -- I used to go often when I was at NYU, since a professor of mine ran the Monday night poetry reading series. There's a gigantic neon "KGB" sign outside, and a set of stairs just inside the door. The first floor is a small theater, and the bar is on the second. It's just one room, all read, decorated with old Soviet propaganda posters and stencils of Lenin. Strangely cozy, in an ironic sort of way.

My former editor introduced me to my new editor, and we chatted for the duration of a long glass of wine. He looked tired (he's doing two people's work at the moment), but very wryly funny. As is my wont, I chattered on about bookstores -- he loves the store where I work now (maybe more than I do). When I started to tell him about my plans to start an indie of my own in Brooklyn, he asked if I'd like to write a piece about my quixotic struggle to open a bookstore. Of course I would, though I haven't gotten very far in the process yet. But I'm definitely going to start taking notes. As for his suggestion that I could get a book or two out of this -- maybe a little overambitious, even for me.

In other news, the blog of Atomic Books (one of the coolest new indies that I know about, at least based on their website) points out the debate over the reality of cult favorite author J.T. LeRoy. Apparently this article in New York Magazine has prompted the New York Times to stop publication of some articles they'd commisioned from LeRoy, on the grounds that he may be a made-up person.

I sold books at a J.T. LeRoy event a couple of years ago at Fez Cafe. Since the author is reportedly too shy to read from his own book, there were some fun literary celebrities reading from his book, including Michael Musto and Arthur Bradford. My friends and I speculated about whether J.T. might have made a covert appearance, as he supposedly often does. We identified a frumpy-looking woman who might have been a young man in drag. Then again, she might have been a frumpy-looking woman pretending to be a young man in drag, or a young man in drag who is not the author of J.T. LeRoy's books.

The world may never know.