“All the sweet green icing flowing down…”
January 9, 2012
Bob Graham with Miles & Alan
Late night bull riding.
“All the sweet green icing flowing down…”
There was a moment during the Key West Literary Seminar during Colson Whitehead’s stunningly funny presentation where he held up a small recording device to offer an audio assist to illustrate a point he was making about the difficulty of becoming a writer and played a few minutes of the Donna Summer version of the song “MacArthur Park”. His comparison of rejected manuscripts to the lyrics, “Someone left my cake out in the rain, I don’t think that I can take it because it took so long to bake it and I’ll never have that recipe again,” was spot on and as hilarious as any stand-up routine.
It was among the many highlights of the second full day of the seminar and proved once again that the terrifying dystopian future that many of the writers foresee can also be uproariously amusing. Day two of the seminar featured many wonderful moments including readings, panel discussions and even a last minute surprise appearance by former two-term Florida Governor and two-term US Senator, Bob Graham, who spoke briefly on Saturday morning about the San Carlos Institute and then stuck around through the entire morning session.
Mitch Kaplan, Bob Graham & Rafael Penalaver
He saw a great session that featured not only the aforementioned presentation by Colson Whitehead, but stunning readings from Joyce Carol Oates & Janna Levin and a panel discussions featuring Jennifer Egan, Michael Cunningham, Charles Yu and Jim Gleick and a poetry reading by James Tate were also featured in the morning.
After a wonderful lunch at the fabulous new restaurant 2 cents, located just around the corner on Appelrouth Lane, it was back for the afternoon session. I have to comment on just how cool it was to be eating lunch and look around and seeing so many of the panelist and attendees partaking of the great food.
Doug & Mike
Mark, Nick, Ian & Jason
The afternoon was just as enthralling with readings by Rivka Galchen & Billy Collins and panels featuring Galchen & George Saunders and one with William Gibson, China Mieville and Dexter Palmer on “Steampunk” that provoked the most discussion from attendees, mostly due to the moderator, Robert Krulwich of NPR. I did not see the panel, but those who did seemed to have strong feelings that Krulwich did not seem to understand the topic and was something of a bully. There were a few who thought it was fine, but many were upset and even angry which makes me wish that I had seen it for myself. Whatever the case, I have no doubt that Gibson and Mieville, and probably Palmer as well can fend for themselves and were a match and then some for the moderator.
Kathy & Billy Collins
Saturday evening was the return of the traditional dinner at the Key West Lighthouse which was held under beautiful skies and pleasant temperatures and an almost full moon. The packed gathering featured good food and more drinks and everyone seemed to be having a great time. The evening continued for many of the panelist, staff and select invited guests at the annual private soiree hosted by the iconic Key West resident David Wolkowsky in his incredibly eclectic penthouse apartment on the roof of the Fast Buck Freddies building.
Colson, Janna, Billy & Jennifer
The party is a tough ticket and is difficult to find and get to, the only way up via a small well-hidden elevator that only can take five people up or down at a time. Somehow, a big crowd manages to make it up to the beautiful and fascinating setting. The party this year was to honor Program Chair Jim Gleick and a small black and white photocopy of an image of Jim’s face was the only clue that partygoers had reached the entrance. Once inside though the party featured a wonderful and select group of seminar participants and special guests including many of the writers who call Key West home yet are not a part of this year’s seminar such as William Wright, Alison Lurie and Ann Beattie.
William Wright & Linda Mewshaw
Late in the evening a group of us, including Doug & Mike and panelists Charles Yu & Dexter Palmer headed out into the Key West night to take in the nightlife. Somehow, we ended up at Cowboy Bill's, where some mechanical bull riding took place before closing out the night as we often do, at the Green Parrot.