Out and About with Jane and the Sordid in 7 hours

by A Latter-day Bluestocking

A corned beef sandwich from Katz's Delicatesse...

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This weekend is again shaping up to be perfectly literary.  Today I meet with my book club, The Petty Rebuttals where we will be discussing Room by Emma Donoghue and tomorrow is the Brooklyn Book Festival where I will be manning the Jane Austen Society of North America’s table for an hour in full Regency dress!!  But more about that later because I want to tell you about last weekend that proved to be very literary as well.

Saturday began quite bookish.  Its scope spanned the centuries beginning with Jane Austen and ending with what was promised to be a sordid foray into international erotic writing.

My day began with the New York Regional meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA).  A group of like-minded admirers of the works of Jane Austen who come together at regional meetings throughout the year, an annual national general meeting, and at splinter group meetings such as a monthly discussion group, book reading groups and the Juvenilia (a group for the young and the young at heart).  This meeting was especially enticing for me as it would be a lecture on fashion of the Regency era and how best to outfit yourself at any budget entitled, Dressing the Miss Bennets.  The speaker was Lisa Brown who led the informative lecture with modeling (which I happily participated in).

I had such a wonderful time, catching up with friends, volunteering, and talking about an upcoming general meeting which our chapter is hosting in Brooklyn next autumn.  It was exciting to discuss Jane Austen with other enthusiastic readers.  It is a wonderful place to socialize with the scholarly as well as those who have newly discovered our favorite author.  I was able to discuss with fellow members of the Juvenilia the possibility of a lending library amongst our members of our personal Jane material and the possibility of leading a group discussion in November of Catherine, or the Bower an unfinished fragment written in August 1792.  This is an important fragment as it is believed to be a segue between Austen’s youthful juvenilia to her mature published works.

After tea and cucumber sandwiches with the group-at-large, myself and members of the Juvenilia group headed to Manhattan’s lower east side to participate in the 4th Annual Lit Crawl NYC.  This event is sponsored by the Litquake Foundation, founded in San Francisco, to give readers more against the back-drop of technology by promoting readings, classroom visits, youth projects all “to foster interest in literature for people of all ages and perpetuate a sense of literary community.”  The Crawl was broken up into three 45 minute phases in which you chose from several topics and venues (coffeehouses, bars and lounges).  The first venue we decided to attend was sponsored by The Center for Fiction in which authors came up with he first line of books based only on the title and a blurb.  Audience participation involved trying to guess what the correct first line was.  It was very fun and sometimes raucously hilarious!!  The second venue we chose was Nerd Jeopardy presented by publishers Farrar, Straus, Giroux.  This one is pretty self-explanatory and one would be led to believe a fun choice but because of the lack of organization and slim audience participation it proved a bit boring and pretentious.  The best part of this venue was the Heineken Dark Lager.

Next venue, in the hopes of more than just intellectual stimulation we chose to attend Down and Dirty Round the World the blurb read as follows:

“…an evening of hardboiled, pulpy, and erotic international literature read by some of our favorite authors and translators…”

It proved less than exciting.  None of the selections even came close to being pulpy or erotic.  Halfway into the first reading my friends and I were wondering if we should just bail.  One author/translator read so poorly that if she were to read hard-core porn her monotone voice would fail to titillate.  At last it was over!  It had one thing going for it, it gave us something to talk about.  The only thing about that evening to arouse my desire was the to-die-for pastrami Reuben at Katz’s Deli!  That succulent pastrami, its juicy goodness tantalizing my tongue, the tender flesh melting in my mouth… See what I mean?

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