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June 9, 2011 11:35 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to be participating in this event for the Brooklyn Public Library this weekend. What should I read?

I've checked out a few past threads on reading aloud, but I figured this was special snowflakey enough to merit its own question (and I hope that wasn't a self-link; I'm not an organizer of the read-in, and I'll be one of dozens of participants).

I have a fifteen-minute time slot, on Sunday afternoon. This will be taking place on the steps of the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library - so very public and probably children present (though I haven't been given any specific warnings about content). I also imagine it'll be hot outside, and I should pick something that might not bore people absolutely to death.

I was asked what I'd like to read on the submission form, and I suggested a Flannery O'Connor short story ("Good Country People", to be specific). Now that it's really happening, I'm not so sure. I didn't do a page count or time it out or anything, just picked something along the lines of what I imagined might be fun to read.

The followup email confirming my time slot didn't say anything about my choice of what to read, and I'm not even sure that I have to read what I put down originally. Though I imagine that, with dozens of readers over 24 straight hours, there are some popular choices and they don't want everyone doing "Jabberwocky".

So what should I read? The O'Connor story? A different O'Connor story? A different short bit of clever southern-ness? Something totally different and much shorter? Is there anything I'm not thinking of, here?
posted by Sara C. to Writing & Language (11 answers total)
I saw David Sedaris read aloud a couple months ago. At the end of his performance he read a good portion of the first chapter in The Barracks Thief by Tobias Wolff. Everyone was mesmerized. Sedaris was gushing over Wolff's ability to write beautifully and how much he admired and enjoyed his writing. The Barrack's Thief is short, only a 110 pages or less, so I imagine the chapters are short.

My best advice is to go with something you are familiar with and enjoy. Good luck.
posted by Fairchild at 11:54 AM on June 9, 2011

Something from Airships by Barry Hannah could be good.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:55 AM on June 9, 2011

Salinger? A Perfect Day for Banana Fish

Ring Lardner would be my choice, especially if you can do the voice. You Know Me Al
posted by Ideefixe at 12:04 PM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Donald Barthelme's A Shower of Gold. Just short enough and a great piece for live reading.
posted by nasreddin at 12:29 PM on June 9, 2011

Charlotte's Web is wonderful to read aloud. You could read a chapter or two from that.
posted by mogget at 12:41 PM on June 9, 2011

Thurber's "The Catbird Seat."
posted by brainwane at 1:02 PM on June 9, 2011

Did you consider George Saunders?

Pick up Civilwarland in Bad Decline for a selection. "Adams" was in the New Yorker a few years ago.

Uniformly short, funny, and sharp--Brooklyn crowd-pleasers!
posted by vecchio at 2:20 PM on June 9, 2011

Mention of "The New Yorker" reminds me that I can read just about anything I want - it doesn't need to be classic literary fiction. I'm a little bit tempted to read "Consider The Lobster" or a Sarah Vowell essay, now that you go and throw short-form nonfiction out there as a possibility.
posted by Sara C. at 2:24 PM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

James Thurber's "The Night the Bed Fell" is hilarious and Thurber actually recommends reading it out loud. (Also, you should "throw furniture around, shake doors, and bark like a dog", but that might be a little trickier.)
posted by Quietgal at 2:27 PM on June 9, 2011

Sarah Vowell would be good. A short story by PG Wodehouse or O. Henry would be good.
posted by Caravantea at 3:50 PM on June 9, 2011

My first thought was a bit of The Phantom Tollbooth,
but then everyone was listing such great short stories and I thought, "The Things They Carried"
posted by Glinn at 7:57 PM on June 9, 2011

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