Reading series have, in the past few years or so, sprung up throughout Queens (and it is just about time...Brooklyn and Manhattan have so many already) and, since 2015, the LIC Reading Series has been a part of the growing community. For this reading, there were three impressive authors in attendance: Julia Fierro, Brandon Harris, and Hannah Tinti. Prior to this discussion, I was only ever familiar with Hannah Tinti and her book, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley because it had been a March selection of LibraryReads. My worlds continue to collide in the bumper car arena that is NYC.
Second to read was Brandon Harris. He read from his recently published memoir, Making Rent in Bed-Stuy, (that cover art, tho) about his experiences living and trying to make a living in NYC. His book focuses on personal experience within the context of a neighborhood that is quickly gentrifying and the social and the political changes that go hand in hand with that. I've also marked this to read since I suspect his experiences and perspective will resonate with my library patrons. Most of them have seen first hand the changeover in their neighborhoods and will relate.
Last, but certainly not least, was Hannah Tinti. Ms. Tinti is known to open her readings by singing a song and playing her ukulele. She explained that she picks songs that are somehow related to wherever the reading is taking place and for Queens she, aptly, chose The Ramones' Rockaway Beach. It inspired a sing-along and from that moment and all the way through her reading, I was charmed. Her novel is about a father and daughter who have spent their lives on the run. The daughter, Loo, is slowly finding out the answers to questions she's had about her past and her parents through the twelve scars that her father has from being shot. I haven't read the book yet but I definitely will. As I mentioned before, it was a LibraryReads favorite in March and after the reading I approached Ms. Tinti and introduced myself and told her about the work I do for LibraryReads and she sweetly said that being picked for that list was the biggest thrill of her mother's. I thought that was really sweet.
Owing to the cozy atmosphere of the LIC Bar's carriage house and the enthusiasm and good nature of the host, this reading series is a boon to the burgeoning literary scene in my beloved Queens. Personally, I'm thrilled that so many talented voices are finding each other and that I live near so many people who love books and reading series like this are great reminders.