September 26th, 2009


Poe at the Montauk Club

Last night, Ellen Datlow hosted a reading with three authors from her anthology Poe: 19 New Tales Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe--Gregory Frost, Delia Sherman and John Langan--at the Montauk Club in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The readings were all excellent, and it was as wonderful as ever to see my friend John again, but the true star of the show was the Montauk Club itself.

A few of us took a tour of the mansion-like building after the reading. Built in the 19th century, the club is such a mix of architectural styles, from Venetian Gothic to Native American to Viking, that it put me in mind of the Chaotic Naturalist building featured in Sarah Langan's forthcoming novel Audrey's Door, which I'm currently reading in ARC form.

The good news is that the Montauk Club wants to become a literary hub and plan more book-related events like last night's for the future. They've already secured an event with McSweeney's, I hear, and possibly a few others for the near future*, but they're looking for more. It's a lovely and elegant (and gothic!) setting for such an event, and if you or anyone you know is looking to put a reading together, I highly recommend the Montauk Club for the venue.

The last reading I put together was back in 2002, I think, at the now long gone Boudoir Bar in Brooklyn, but being at the Montauk Club last night gave me the itch to plan another one.

*This just in: It looks like there will also be a reading in honor of Ellen Datlow's anthology Lovecraft Unbound at the club in January.


As with any concept-heavy TV series, Thursday night's premiere of FlashForward on ABC left me wondering just how they're going to manage to fill up an entire season, let alone a continuing series, with the ramifications of a single, mysterious event. On the other hand, I found the writing pretty good--at least when it wasn't in heavy expository dialogue mode: "It was like a memory of something that hasn't happened yet. What if it wasn't a flashback, but a flashforward?" Yeah, that's how people talk -- and the acting was pretty good too. The cast seems well developed. It's always a pleasure to watch John Cho in action, and Joseph Fiennes, while not entirely settled into the leading role yet, seems only moments away from becoming so. Our old friend Jack Davenport shows up to say, "Look, everyone, I'm more than Steve from Coupling or Norrington from those dreadful pirate movies!" Furthermore, I was surprised to see Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane show up as an FBI agent, looking somewhat uncomfortable with not being allowed to just start doing Stewie or Brian's voice, but I was not at all surprised to see Sonya Walger. I swear to God she must be the hardest working woman in show business right now.

Anyway, the single, mysterious event in question is that everyone all over the world suddenly falls asleep at exactly the same moment, for two minutes and seventeen seconds, and has a brief glimpse into their shared future. This might seem like hippy flowerchild nirvana--sleep! dreams! the world coming together as one!--until you realize our happy dreamers might actually be flying planes and driving cars and performing surgeries when sleepytime hits. So a lot of people die in the first episode, and in a narratively convincing manner too.

So how can the series keep up the tension if this blackout event was just a one-time thing (which, admittedly, I don't know it is)? I wonder that myself, though the last few seconds of the premiere offered an interesting clue in the form of some footage a surveillance camera. No spoilers here--it's actually a great moment of suspense--but it opens the door for some neat ideas and directions for the series to go in. And of course there's the promise of watching these characters get to the point in their lives that they witnessed in their flashforwards, that date of which conveniently also happens to be the scheduled date of the first season's finale.

Despite some moments of heavy-handedness, the TV Nerd is intrigued.