Review of the Richard Hugo House reading

In this week’s Stranger, Paul Constant has some nice things to say about last Friday’s reading at Richard Hugo House:

Aimee Bender took full advantage of the casual feel. Her piece—about a young woman traveling with a boyfriend who loves awkward public sex for the feeling of “things just pushing against the perimeter”—felt more autobiographical than her other work. But Bender is one of America’s greatest fantasists, and the fantastic crept in at the corners—the narrator feels an attachment with dozens of other women through the masses of wadded, moist paper towels thrown into a trash can at a rest stop, and a creepy young girl’s face smooshes through the tiny squares of a tennis racket like the monsters in The Abyss

But the real star of the night was Matt Ruff, who read a prequel for an unproduced TV show of his own creation, an X-Files–type show about two black travel writers exploring Jim Crow–era America called Lovecraft Country. The protagonist mistakes books by H. P. Lovecraft for romance novels—”There was no love in these tales, or even women“— and reads Dracula even as he accidentally wanders into a sundown town.

The piece I read, “Safe Negro Travel Guide,” along with Aimee Bender’s story and Marie Howe’s poems (which I liked better than Paul seems to have) should all be posted on the Hugo House web site sometime soon. In the meantime, many thanks to Alix Wilber and the rest of the Hugo House crew for a fun evening.

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