Kronosphere - Music Mon, 26 Oct 2015 21:25:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Poundcake: City Winery 25 October 2015 Mon, 26 Oct 2015 21:24:38 +0000

Back to one of my favorite venues to see one of my favorite bands. And I was finishing up my birthday weekend in excellent company – rtb, Mrs. Devereaux and her friend.

For dinner I had the excellent duck tacos and their vegetable of the day, which was cauliflower. My drink of choice was a very good Prosecco.

First up was comedian Phil Hanley. He started slow but ended up pretty good – not belly laugh funny but he had some funny observations. There was one woman in the audience that he kept going back to for some funny little bits.

Poundcake is a cover band. Before you judge, they are a very good band, who cover rockabilly and old country songs and their in-between, or frequently during the song, banter will have you belly laughing. Poundcake is Teddy Thompson (vocals, guitar), Jeff Hill (upright bass, vocals), and Ethan Eubanks (drums, vocals).

Deva Mahal (daughter of Taj Mahal – Thompson seems to have a thing about working with the children of famous musicians) joined them for a wonderful version of Chuck Berry’s “Memphis Tennessee.” Charlie (didn’t catch his last name) joined them on piano and accordion and did such a great job that the audience was applauding his every solo.

From the very start Thompson was having trouble remembering lyrics or guitar parts. For one song he’d forgotten how to end it and they kept going on and on until Eubanks finally sang the guitar part for Thompson. While tuning, Thompson started a long talk about what was available at the merch table and finally Eubanks accused him of turning it into a TED Talk. The funniest bit was about the water provided for the band – it was in cartons and had a strange listing of ingredients including dissolved solids.

Most of the songs were songs they’ve done when I’ve seen them in the past. A new one (for me) was Hill doing Sam Cooke’s “Cupid.” We also heard an Elvis medley, “Hit the Road Jack,” “Why Can’t He Be You?,” “The Race is On,” “Little Sister,” and “Bye, Bye Love.” They were supposed to play until 9:45pm and ended up playing until almost 10:30pm. If you want to hear some of the best rockabilly/old traditional country in town and also get a comedy act, you need to see Poundcake.

Poundcake City Winery-20151025-01360

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Old 97’s: Brooklyn Bowl 20 October 2015 Wed, 21 Oct 2015 22:51:47 +0000

Leave it to the Old 97’s to completely change my mood for the better. I wasn’t feeling well and I was tired and then they took the stage and suddenly I was dancing and singing and had all the energy in the world. I love my boys in Lucero but no one gets me dancing like the Old 97’s do.

Banditos was the opening act. A mix of fast country and blues, the band is from Birmingham, Alabama and I had difficulty understanding the female singer when she spoke. The band is Corey Parsons (singer/guitarist), Stephen Pierce (singer/banjo), Randy Wade (drums), Jeffrey Salter (guitar), Mary Beth Richardson (vocals/kazoo), and Danny Vines (bass). The band is trying really hard with Richardson trying her hardest to sound and look like Janis Joplin. I think if they relaxed a little it would work better.

Banditos Brooklyn Bowl-20151020-01353

The Old 97’s entered to a Spanish version of “Hotel California” and they played old songs and new. One interesting thing is that we got a sober Rhett Miller (singer/guitar), who didn’t talk much at all. Murry Hammond (bass/singer) did some talking and even Ken Bethea (lead guitar) talked more than I’ve ever heard from him – he told a story about baseball in his rural town in East Texas. It turns out he was stretching to give Philip Peeples (drums) time to return from the encore break. Philip got there in time to start playing in the middle of the second encore song. No matter how often I see this band or hear these songs they make me very happy. This band is tight and they all obviously still love playing together after all these years. There’s no better cure for what ails you than one night with the Old 97’s.

Set List

Give It Time
Dance with Me
Streets of Where I’m From
W TX Teardrops
Big Brown Eyes
Bel Air
Over the Cliff
Old Familiar Steam
Color of a Lonely Heart is Blue
Longer Than You’ve Been Alive
Let the Idiot Speak
Designs on You
This is the Ballad (?)
White Port
Rollerskate Skinny
Barrier Reef
Every Night is Friday Night (Without You)
Most Messed Up


Most in the Summertime (Rhett solo)
Desperate Times
Let’s Get Drunk & Get It On

Old 97s Brooklyn Bowl-20151020-01359

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Fall for Dance: Program Five: New York City Center 11 October 2015 Fri, 16 Oct 2015 22:08:06 +0000

Sixth night out in a row (plus brunch earlier in the day). And the fifth program for Fall for Dance.

L-E-V’s Killer Pig was a violent piece. The dancers were dressed in beige and they start as a group and move in unison. One or more leave the group and the killing starts with the occasional yelling from the dancers. The music (by Ori Litchtik) also ramps up as the piece gets more violent. It was created by Sharon Eal and Gai Behar. The dancers are Gon Biran, Sharon Eyal, Rebecca Hytting, Mariko Kakizaki, Leo Lerus, Douglas Letheren, and Keren Lurie Pardes.

Bill Irwin’s and Tiler Peck’s Time It Was/116 was a needed delight after the intensity of the first performance. One of my favorites, Damian Woetzel, choreographed this piece along with Irwin and Peck. Clowns. Clowns dressed as clowns. Clowns dressed as ballerinas. Give and take. Hats on and off. Funny. A lot of tick-tock-tick-tock. And then Philip Glass’ Violin Solo played by Johnny Gandelsman.

If you love classical Western ballet, then you would love the Pas de Quatre by the Boston Ballet. Maria Baranova, Erica Cornejo, Ashley Ellis, and Misa Kuranaga are dressed in all white and dance together and separately. Choreography is by Leonid Yakobson and music is by Vincenzo Bellini (Excerpts from Norma).

And the final piece for this year’s program is Ímpetu, flamenco dancing by Jesús Carmona & CIA. Carmona choreographed the piece, which was him dancing solo to the music of Daniel Jurado played live by Jurado on guitar, Oscar Lago on guitar, Thomas Potiron on violin, and Jose Ibañez and Maka Ibañez on vocals. It’s a dramatic way to end a season and a wonderful counterpoint to the Argentinian gauchos from the first program. Carmona used the entire floor to talk with us with his heels and toes.

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Cory Branan: Mercury Lounge 10 October 2015 Fri, 16 Oct 2015 21:14:26 +0000

Out for the fifth night in a row, this time to see Cory Branan as the opening act at Mercury Lounge. Mercury Lounge is one of my favorite venues – intimate and great sound. And Cory Branan is one of the best storytellers you’ll ever hear.

He started with one of our favorites, “Prettiest Waitress in Memphis,” and then pointed out a small group from Oslo who came to the US just to see Cory. They had also traveled to London to see him, handed him a set list, and said, “Don’t fuck this up.” They gave him a set list this time, Cory looked at it, and asked them if everything was okay since all the songs were sad songs. He did some songs from the list but he also did songs that he wanted to do – including three new songs, which is always a bonus for the crowd. It was a short set but it included his fast fantastic guitar playing.

Set List

Prettiest Waitress in Memphis
Hell-Bent and Heart-First
New song
The Freefall
Tall Green Grass
New song
New song
Wayward and Down
Girl Named Go

Cory Branan Mercury Lounge-20151010-01342

Country-rock band The Band of Heathens was the main act. They are Ed Jurdi (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Gordy Quist (vocals, guitars, harmonica), Trevor Nealon (keyboards), Richard Milsap (drums), and Scott Davis (electric bass, vocals). They have a very dedicated crowd, who sang along to every song. Minutes after the set was over, the night’s recording was available digitally at the merch table. Kid Rock has recorded their song “Shotgun” and they have since become friends with him. The music was pleasant and harmonies pretty. It was made prettier when The Trishas joined them onstage for two songs.

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Band of Heathens The Trishas Mercury Lounge-20151010-01352

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Fall for Dance: Program Four: NY City Center 9 October 2015 Fri, 16 Oct 2015 20:37:05 +0000

rtb and I returned to New York City Center for the fourth Fall for Dance program. Before the show we had a tap dancing lesson from this guy

who is the face for FFD for 2015. He is Leonardo Sandoval and he would be dancing later with Dorrance Dance. One woman arrived late for the lesson and had on a tulle skirt. Another reached for a fan in her bag – at the same time rtb and I said, “Some people came prepared to dance.” We were not prepared. The tap dancing was way above my skill as a dancer and I just sat back and enjoyed watching the crowd learn.

Nrityagram is a classical Indian dance company. Bijayini Satpathy and Surupa Sen danced Shivashtakam (An Ode to Shiva) danced in beautiful red and burnt orange costumes and no one will be surprised to know that I loved the bells around their ankles. The dance began with the recitation of a poem about Shiva and then the musicians – Rohan Dahale (chants, mardala), Manu Raj (bamboo flute), Jateen Sahu (vocals, harmonium), and Siddhartha Sarkar (violin) – came in. If you are a fan of South Asian dance, as I am, you would have loved the grace and beauty of the small movements. Choreography was by Surupa Sen, music by Pandit Raghunath Panigrahi, and costumes by Bijayini Satpathy and Ghulam Rasool Tailor.

Solo by San Francisco Ballet dancers Gennadi Nedvigin, Joseph Walsh, and Hansuke Yamamoto was a delightful little number with some small chuckles and moments. The music is Johann Sebastian Bach’s Violin Suite No. 1 in D Minor. Bach seems to be the music of choice for several of the companies this year. Choreography is by Hans Van Manen.

During his interview a few days before, Stephen Petronio of Stephen Petronio Company talked about Locomotor and how difficult it was for the dancers to get used to going backwards. The dance is about time and the bodies move forward and backwards throughout – time is not linear and comes back to moments that stand out. Music is by Clams Casino and costumes by Narciso Rodriguez. Dancers were Cori Kresge, Gino Grenek, Barrington Hinds, Jaqlin Medlock, Nicholas Sciscione, Emily Stone, Joshua Tuason, and Melissa Toogood.

During her interview a few days earlier, choreographer Michelle Dorrance of Dorrance Dance mentioned that a floor would have be laid down for the tap dancers for the FFD commissioned Myelination. This meant that there was a second intermission to give them time. She also talked about the dancers being part of the music and it was nice to see them working with live jazz musicians. The tap dancing was mostly classic moves with a few new moves thrown in and all of it fast and furious. Dancers were Megan Bartula, Chris Broughton, Elizabeth Burke, Warren Craft, Brittany DeStefano, Ali Dietz, Michelle Dorrance, Emma Portner, Claudia Rahardjanoto, Leonardo Sandoval, Caleb Teicher, and Byron Tittle. Music was composed by Gregory Richardson and Donovan Dorrance with vocal arrangements by Aaron Marcellus. Musicians were Richardson (electric and double bass, clarinet), Donovan Dorrance (electric bass, keys, and clarinet), John Angeles (percussion), Aaron Marcellus (keys, vocals), and Sean Fair, Karyn Porter, Penelope Wendtlandt, and Helen White on vocals.

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Lucero: Webster Hall 8 October 2015 Fri, 16 Oct 2015 19:24:18 +0000

Sorry that the next few reviews are so late in coming. It was one show after another while I was fighting off what I thought was allergies but grew to realize was actually bronchitis. But now I’m medicated and ready to write things up.

Lucero opening for Lucero at Webster Hall. You can’t have too much of the boys in one evening but you can see them in a better place. Webster Hall is a small ballroom. The sound was good – better than I’ve heard it there before – but the ballroom becomes a dance club so the rock acts need to be off stage by 10:30pm. That doesn’t leave room for a lot of fun.

Plenty of drinks were passed up to Ben Nichols (vocals/acoustic and electric guitars) but he didn’t get as talky as he usually gets because they had to power through. It also meant that there wasn’t room for a lot of requests. With Lucero the drunk monologues and playing repeated requests are the rule rather than the exception and I missed them. There was one funny moment when Ben joked about bringing the room down by playing “The War” right after “Tears Don’t Matter Much.”

But – Lucero opening for Lucero. That means an evening of great music. Rick Steff kills on the keyboards and accordion. I am so glad he’s part of the original group. Jim Spake (saxophone) and Randy Ballard (trumpet) are missed during the acoustic portion of the show. As much as I love the acoustic portion, when the horns come in for the electric half the energy in the room increases tenfold. Roy Berry is a master at the drums. He makes a half a kit sound as powerful as a whole kit while seemingly barely touching the drums. Brian Venable’s guitar playing is unparalleled. And I love hearing John C. Stubblefield’s switch between the upright bass and the electric bass. During the acoustic set he played the electric for all the new songs but went to the upright for the older songs. It’s so nice to hear them in a brand new way.

Lucero played most of the latest album and, since that’s been in heavy rotation on my iPod, it was great to hear the new songs live. There was one wonderful unscripted moment when the crowd upfront howled in the right places for “Can’t You Hear Them Howl.” I was howling too but I was too far back to be heard.

Celebrity in the crowd was Oliver Peck.

How I wish every Lucero concert is Lucero opening for Lucero.

Set List

Went Looking for Warren Zevon’s Los Angeles
Wandering Star
When You Decided to Leave
Baby Don’t You Want Me
In Lonesome Times
Better Than This
Last Night in Town
Ain’t So Lonely
The Man I Was
Hello Sadness
That Much Further West
They Called Her Killer
Texas & Tennessee
Hate and Jealousy

Downtown (Intro)
On My Way Downtown
Nights Like These
Chain Link Fence
Sweet Little Thing
I Woke Up in New Orleans
Noon as Dark as Midnight
Slow Dancing
Can’t You Hear Them Howl
Raising Hell
Throwback #2
Tears Don’t Matter Much
The War (Ben solo with Rick)
All Sewn Up
My Girl and Me in ‘93

Lucero Webster Hall-20151008-01328

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Gad Elmaleh: Joe’s Pub 7 October 2015 Thu, 08 Oct 2015 20:21:35 +0000

While British comedian Eddie Izzard is off in France doing his act in French, French comedian Gad Elmaleh is in NYC doing a workshop of his act in English. Actually, Elmaleh is a Moroccan Jew, who lives and works in France. He is sometimes described as the Jerry Seinfeld of France. Elmaleh is also very funny.

Before the show the waitress told us that Elmaleh had instructed the wait staff not walk the floor during his show. And there was to be no filming during the show – even photography was discouraged.

It’s difficult for me to describe a stand-up act other than to say I was laughing the entire time. Elmaleh interacted with the audience, asking names and naming professions based on the name. He tread quite closely to and sometimes crossed the line of ethnically offensive jokes (mostly making fun of his own ethnicity).

There was one guy (Ronnie) sitting near the stage who got a lot of attention from both Elmaleh and the opening comedian. Elmaleh is also a big flirt and he got a note from one of the women he was flirting with, which he read to himself and pocketed. Even though he didn’t read the note aloud there was his expressive face and wonderful miming.

Last night was Elmaleh’s final night at Joe’s Pub. Since he is working on an English act it looks like there will be other opportunities to see him soon. Go. He’s an arena star in France and you’ll get to see him in a much more intimate space in the US.

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Fall for Dance: Program Three 6 October 2015 Wed, 07 Oct 2015 20:31:28 +0000

Before last evening’s Fall for Dance program there was an interview with two choreographers. Stanton Welch, artistic director of the Houston Ballet, and Stephen Petronio, director of the Stephen Petronio Company, would each have dances at Fall for Dance. The Houston Ballet was performed last night. Both men came to dancing late in life but found it to be their calling. They both spoke passionately about dance and their collaborators – the composers, musicians, lighting people, etc. It is always wonderful to hear people who are passionate about what they do.

Companhia Urbana De Dança performed the NY premiere of Eu Danço – 8 Solos No Geral. Choreography by Sonia Destri Lie and the dancers, who are street performers mostly from the favelas of Rio, the dance felt like a poor man’s version of the Algerian/hip-hop dance we saw earlier in the week. There was the same running in circles and occasional b-boy moves. There wasn’t the athleticism from the earlier dance but there was plenty of movement. I did enjoy the music more for the Brazilian dancers (music by Rodrigo Marçal). The dancers were Rafael Balbino, Johnny Britto, Raphael Russier Felipe, Miguel Fernandes, Jessica Nascimento, Julio Rocha, Tiago Sousa, André “Feijao” Virgilio, and Allan Wagner.

Beautiful and sexy is the way to describe Pheromones, the dance choreographed by Fang-Yi Sheu and performed by Sheu and Herman Cornejo. It’s a simple dance performed to Philip Glass’ Facades. Each takes turns sniffing (not as weird as it sounds) and then they danced very close together, moving very slowly. Just the power of smell brings them closer and closer and keeps one from leaving the other.

The Houston Ballet performed Maninyas, which was another sensual dance. Limbs wrapped around each other and bodies moving against each other. Long skirts were hiked up to reveal long bare legs. Bodies moved through long silk sheets. Choreographer Stanton Welch said he chose the music (Maninyas Concerto for Violin and Orchestra by Ross Edwards) because it sounded Australian to him. To me, it had more of an Aaron Copeland vibe. But maybe big open spaces inspire the same type of music. Welch had said earlier that lighting is very important and you could see how integral it was to the dance. Lisa J. Pinkham did a wonderful job. The dancers were Jessica Collado, Christopher Coomer, Karina Gonzalez, Oliver Halkowich, Elise Elliott, Ian Casady, Katelyn May, Rhodes Elliott, Allison Miller, and Charles-Louis Yoshiyama.

The Paul Taylor Dance Company was simply lovely. Taylor choreographed a three-part dance to Johann Sebastian Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos #6 (movements 1&2) and #3 called Brandenburgs. The male company wore knee-length jumpsuits with sparkly straps that made me think of lederhosen. The three women wore toga-like green velvet dresses and the principal male dancer, Michael Trusnovec, wore green velvet pants with no shirt. The moves were nymph-like. The entire time I was watching them I was imagining a forest and babbling brook. The other dancers were Michelle Fleet, Parisa Khobdeh, Eran Bugge, Robert Kleinendorst, James Samson, Sean Mahoney, Michael Apuzzo, and Michael Novak. Costumes were by Santo Loquasto and lighting by Jennifer Tipton.

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Fall for Dance: Program Two 3 October 2015 Sun, 04 Oct 2015 23:44:58 +0000

It was the second night of the second program of Fall for Dance and the night began with a panel discussion with the FFD commissioned choreographers for the year. One piece was going to be performed that evening and the other later in the week.

Choreographer Pam Tanowitz heard a five-minute string quartet by Greg Saunier. She asked him to expand it to 15-minutes. The choreography began before she even had the completed music. The other choreographer (Michelle) was asked about using the City Center stage and said that because they had to lay a floor down (for tap dancing) she couldn’t use the entire stage. Considerations have to be made for the time it takes the Teamsters to lift up the stage for the next act. Tanowitz said she used the entire stage plus more, which we saw that evening. She also said she thinks about the City Center audience and that she doesn’t want to alienate them. When asked about new approaches, Michelle said she is using a dancer who is internet famous. As to how these new pieces will fit into their repertory, Tanowitz doesn’t have a regular company and Michelle can’t afford to tour with that many dancers.

While waiting for the show to begin, the woman next to me opened her program and said she didn’t know who was performing and wasn’t that a shame. I responded that that is what’s fun. Opening the evening was La Compagnie Hervé Koubi’s US premiere of What the Day Owes to the Night. Choreography by Hervé Koubi, music by Johann Sebastian Bach (Hamza El Din), and costumes by Guillaume Gabriel, the dance was an amalgam of hip-hop and Algerian dance. The all male troupe is bare-chested and dressed in white pants with white cloths hanging from their waists. They begin in silence, standing on an all-white stage. Suddenly there’s jumping and spinning handstands that made the audience gasp. Later there were breakdancing head spins and then throwing a dancer up high and catching him. It ended with one dancer falling back into a group of the men. I thought the piece went on a little too long – there was a lot of repetition that I didn’t find necessary. But the athleticism and grace was amazing. The dancers were Lazhar Berrouag, Hocine Chernai, Nasserdine Djerrad, Fayçal Hamlat, Nassim Hendi, Amine Maamar Kouadri, Riad Mendjel, Issa Sanou, Ismail Seddiki, Reda Tighremt, Mustapha Zahem, and Adel Zouba.

Steven McRae choreographed and danced the US premiere of Czardas. Music is by Vittoria Monti (Csárdás). McRae balleted and tapped his way around the Hungarian music – watching him spin as he tapped was heartstopping. McRae was dressed simply in a white tank top and black pants but the dancing was anything but simple. My only complaint is that it was too short.

Next was the first of the pieces commissioned especially for FFD this year. Project FFD: Pam Tanowitz uses three dancers from the American Ballet Theatre: Tyler Maloney, Calvin Royal III, and Devon Teuscher. Greg Saunier’s Quartets 1 & 2 are the music and costumes are by Reid Bartelme. The Flux Quartet (Tom Chiu (violin), Conrad Harris (violin), Felix Fan (cello), Caleb Burhans (viola)) performed with Saunier on drums. Tanowitz certainly did use the entire stage and more. The backdrop was gone so you could see the cables hanging on the back wall and the pipes. There was an opening where Maloney enters and joins Teuscher downstage. Later Royal joins them. The men are dressed in white with a few pink stripes. Teuscher is in black tights and a white shirt with a black stripe on the side. I admit I don’t know what the dance was about. There were some lovely moves and the music was new classical (not my favorite type) so I wasn’t sure what emotion I was supposed to be feeling.

The last piece is what we were waiting for all night – Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Four Corners. Choreography is by Ronald K. Brown and music by Carl Hancock Rux, Vinicius Cantuaria, Ron Trent, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Yacoub. The costumes (men in tank tops and drawstring pants and women in full skirt dresses and head wraps) were by Omotayo Wunmi Olaiya. This dance was just beautiful to watch. It was graceful and athletic. There was a loud cheer from the crowd at the end. In it, spiritual seekers dance among four angels who are standing at the four corners of the earth holding the wind. The dancers are Rachael McLaren, Demetia Hopkins-Greene, Jamar Roberts, Glenn Allen Sims, Ghrai Devore, Akua Noni Parker, Sarah Daley, Fana Tesfagiorgis, Yannick Lebrun, Vernard J. Gilmore, and Jeroboam Bozeman.

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The Writing Process: New Yorker Festival 3 October 2015 Sun, 04 Oct 2015 22:03:17 +0000

Next for me at New Yorker Festival was The Writing Process, a panel with Jeffrey Eugenides (“The Virgin Suicides” “Middlesex” “The Marriage Plot”), Sheila Heti (“How Should a Person Be?” “Ticknor” “Women in Clothes”), and Ben Lerner (“Leaving the Atocha Station” “10:04” “Angle of Yaw”) moderated by Cressida Leyshon (deputy fiction editor of The New Yorker.

Leyshon started at the beginning – “What do you do when faced with a blank page?” Eugenides said that it’s not a blank page but pages with the wrong words on them. Heti mentioned a lot of editing. When transcribing interviews it reads flat, so you need to edit to make it live. Lerner said he first has to convince himself that he’s not working. He also said he listen for glitches to become features. Eugenides said to think about the sentence and the rest will come. Heti needed to retrain her brain from playwriting by writing whenever she needed to. Lerner, who is both a poet and a novelist, said poetry is a way to imagine language and emptying yourself out. In poetry each line is its own event. Lines get lost in a novel.

Heti and Lerner have people they will send their novel to review as they’re working on it. Eugenides works alone and no one sees the draft until it is finished. He wanted to know how he could find a reader.

All three have interviewed novelist Karl Ove Knausgaard. Eugenides said Knausgaard is an old-fashioned writer; Heti said he sends the pages from each day to a reader; and Lerner called him the anti-process writer.

When asked about writers who say they wait for their characters to tell them the ending, Eugenides said that only bad writers say that. Characters don’t dictate – the writer is creating the characters. Heti said there is an element of stream of consciousness to writing.

Asked about research, Lerner said he spends a lot of time on Google Earth and he steals language more than he researches. Heti said she does not do a lot of research on point.

In response to a question about one of his novel’s endings, Lerner said he likes ending books on a threshold rather than moments of closure.

One audience member said her instructor said she should show rather than tell. Heti quoted from a Paris Review interview with Jean Cocteau – “Listen to early criticisms and emphasize that because that’s how you’re different.” Earlier Lerner had said if you had a problem to write it into the book – like creating a preface.

Asked how to deal with interruptions, they all responded that you can’t. You simply have to live with them.

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