Thursday, April 23, 2009

Reading at Sullivan's Pub

At the April 1 reading at Sullivan's Pub in La Honda, Miss Caroline Graham demonstrated why I chose her to help with my upcoming podcast. Here we're reading Chapter One of my novel Babcock. Caroline, in this reading, plays the part of Kirsten, a 13-year-old white girl who has blond hair, freckles, big ears - and spunk. I, meanwhile, play the part of Babcock, a 13-year-old black boy who has, uh, fatness - and also a lot of spunk. Chapter One describes Kirsten and Babcock's first meeting and first fight - a physical fight between a white girl and a black boy which ends up embarrassing them both. And intriguing them both. Kirsten says the worst thing she can think of, the meanest insult, and she calls him ... fat. That's all. Just fat.

Though written in 1992, I call Babcock a post-Obama novel because it's about the somewhat rocky relationship of a white girl and a black boy - and race isn't the problem. I was about 16 years early. At that time, Barack Obama was an unknown young attorney in Chicago. Reviewers didn't know what to make of the lack of racial conflict - not that it doesn't exist, but that it isn't the central problem. Now maybe people can accept the story as a clash of characters.

Caroline's reading makes it a lot more acceptable. Her rendition of Kirsten is lively, nuanced, and strong. Caroline is a sophomore at Pescadero High School. She lives in La Honda.

I uploaded an mp3 of that reading at this web address. The web host doesn't quite have its act together yet, and I was unable to play it or download it. Maybe if you try, you'll have better luck - or more technical smarts - and be able to listen to it. If not, the podcast will be out soon.

Meanwhile, the next reading at Sullivan's is coming up on Wednesday, April 29. I'll be there. Come on down. Try the fish and chips with Newcastle Ale. See what people are reading.

La Honda: Literary Hub of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

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