Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Claustrophobe

Went last night to Katia Noyes' appearance at the monthly Michelle Tea-produced literary series at the SF Public Library. My friend Katia did great, but I have to say it was an odd evening.

There are always four people on the bill. Joining Katia were local literary lion Robert Glück, a smooth, warm, confident presence; one Christopher Cook, author of a book about the corporatizing of the food system; and Kate Braverman, une femme d'un certain âge whose performance, both during her reading and in the Q and A session, reminded me of this NYT review of the stage production of "The Graduate." Speaking of Kathleen Turner, the reviewer wrote:

She tends to plant herself solidly and defiantly on the stage as she delivers withering, deadpan epigrams, occasionally whipping back her head like a restless mare. Hers is a commanding presence, all right, although it might have been more appropriate in a guest spot on the late lamented "Xena: Warrior Princess." At any moment you expect her to say, "Foolish mortal, how dare you defy Me."

So Katia led off the evening, and she did just fine. Then came the non-fiction guy, who was a complete downer, just because of his content. Then Glück, who was fine, then Braverman. And Braverman's reading was really good, but her energy was definitely on the intense side.

Then the Q and A period started. The first two or three questions were for the food guy who, because his topic is serious and complex, took about a minute and a half to answer each one; so that was five more minutes about the depressing topic of industrialized food production and marketing. Then the next two people to ask questions were both schizophrenic transexuals, and of course they were totally into Braverman; she answered their loopy, insane questions with the same serious and intense energy with which she had read.

Poor Katia and Robert Glück were sitting between these two, glumly silent, like hobbits at a conclave of wizards. Then another fucking question for the food guy. Finally Katia got to answer, like, half a question.

Was I wrong to want to run out screaming? Was I the only person conscious of the weird energy? To her credit, Katia didn't seem too upset by the outcome; in fact, she had even warned me that the panel discussion might be a little weird. But this wasn't what I thought she had meant.

Then again, I might have just been sort of hypoglycemic, because after I went home and ate something, I felt a lot better.

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1 comment:

kate braverman said...

Mark, I'm not certain I understand your comments about my writing and appearance. I thought Katia was a real powerhouse and wrote her a blurb for "Crashing"
Are you a friend of hers? Are you a writer? Best, K