Saturday, November 14, 2009

Books: The Adderall Diaries, Stephen Elliott in Bethel, CT

Friday the 13th, 2009.
   Stephen Elliott, author of The Adderall Diaries, is reserved, a compact man with interesting tattoos and a slightly tenorish voice - a man easy to picture as a masochist. He read his clean, brisk prose last night in puffy suburban Bethel CT (at Molten Java at 102  Greenwood), with a quiet voice as  even as the surface of his narrative.
   He read three sections in all, fairly conservative sections of the book, and took questions after each. The audience seemed very interested in the memory aspect of "memoir."  Elliott said his some of it was taken from writing done as journalling at the time the events were occurring, so the details were not drawn from distant memory nor imagined after the fact,  but were written down fresh from the experience itself. He said he'd done of lot of editing and that the writing in its present form was many steps away from the first writing.
   The audience also asked how difficult it was to do the the kind of extensive self-revelation that The Adderall Diaries contain. Elliott said that getting used to revealing your secrets was a gradual thing, and that he'd previously written several novels where he used material from his life. He compared the process  to a transvestite's coming out. First, Elliott said, the man puts on a dress when he's home alone. Then, after a while, he puts it on and wears it out for a quick trip to the store.  A few months latter, he's out dancing in it, and can hardly remember when just putting it on was a big deal.
odd fly buzzes in the ointment:
     Elliott's  reading was interrupted in the middle by the owner of the neighboring bookstore (at 104 Greenwood Ave). (The bookstore folks own the building where the coffeehouse and the bookstore are located.) She'd been sitting in the back, waiting for him to mention books for sale.
   She interrupted to announce officiously that there would be no book sales, as Molten Java's lease had a non-competition clause with the bookstore.  Of course Molten wasn't selling the books, the author was.  For her part, she had no copies of his book to sell in her store.  So it seems her only object was to thwart the income of one author selling directly to his public, and to piss off people who had formerly been her customers.
    After a final section of prose was read, the company left the coffeeshop and went to the pizza parlor across the street where we ordered pizza, and drinks, talked and many of us bought a book directly from the author. Art will out, landlords notwithstanding.

-- Mar Walker