I was up in Cleveland for a reading tonight at Suspect Thoughts Bookstore with my friend Cat Valente. Suspect Thoughts is a great little bookstore, and if you’re in or around Cleveland, you should definitely look it up and take a stop in. The owners Ian and Greg are extremely nice people, and the book selection is amazingly good, a wide array of kinds of books, literary, genre, small press, large commercial press, zines, and lots lots more. They had a whole table devoted to Small Beer Press books, so you know they’ve got good taste!
It was a nice space to read in also. Very warmly lit and people sitting close together on couches and chairs. I told Cat after the reading that it felt like doing MTV Unplugged, rather than the sort of reading at a podium type of event that I’ve gotten used to being the scenario lately. I read a short story of mine called “Born on the Edge of an Adjective” which I wrote about eight years ago, I think, when I was twenty-four, and published in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, as well as online at Fantastic Metropolis. I’d never had a chance to read that story anywhere before. It takes place in both Youngstown and San Francisco, and since Ian and Greg moved Suspect Thoughts to Cleveland from San Fran, I thought it would be appropriate to have a cross-regional story to bridge the two places together. And also I’ve always really wanted to read that story out loud, so I took this chance, and am glad that I did.
One of the funny things about that story is that a character from Youngstown who moves to the Bay Area finds a bar in San Francisco where people from Youngstown and Cleveland make up the population of regulars at the bar. Tonight, at the reading, six or seven of my friends from Youngstown all showed up at the reading, and I was really surprised and happy to see them come out to one of my readings in a town, though nearby-ish (an hour drive or so), that’s not our own. It made that bar with the Youngstown regional subculture that inhabits it feel even more apt. That’s the sort of people Youngstown breeds, I think (well my favorite sort at least!). The sort that sees a friend giving a reading in a city an hour away and the reaction is, Hey, let’s go. Maybe it’s one of the qualities you get from living in a small city. You get some of the stronger community ties of small town life in a semi-urban/college town setting that is decidedly not the same thing as an American suburb.
In any case, it was a great night, and I cannot urge Cleveland locals more to go visit Suspect Thoughts Bookstore at 4903 Clarke Avenue in Cleveland if you haven’t already, and buy some books!