Editor/Publisher, Bina Sharif

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Eat, Drink & Be Literary: Bam Cafe

Eat, Drink & Be Litrerary:Bam Cafe

It was a great privilege to have attended, Eat, Drink & Be Literary event which has been going on for 15 years at Bam Cafe with the partnership of National Book Foundation, the second time.
On March 20th I attended the event to experience in person one of the great American writer, John Edgar Wideman.  I was so excited by the Literary quality of the work, wonderful meal and an attentive crowd that I couldn't wait for the second part of this great literary series and on April 9 I had the joy to be present and Listen to Sloane Crosley, an essayist and a humor writer and my joy was doubled by her delightful,smart and warm wit. 

She is the author of bestselling essay collection, I Was Told There'd Be Cake, And How Did You Get This Number and the novel, The Clasp.  Her work has appeared in New York times, Vogue, The Guardian and many other magazines including New Yorker. Her most recent book of essays is Look Alive Out There.

"All writing is found in memory, no mater what kind."  Sloane Crosley tells us.
"Writing starts with a good memory.  This is often called, Observation. Humor
does come naturally."

Her words are so true.  Memory is the essential key to remeber all the tiny details one
has observed in everyday ordinary life, in the streets, in the subway, in a cafe, in a garden, watching flowers, watching the grass, hearing the singing of the birds, sitting on a bench where a person sits all alone looking despondent...and all these beautiful poignant details take your memory to another memory of the past and it goes on and on and you almost have a whole chapter of a book or an essay in your mind which you compose into a single Idea or a thought and that begins your hard work to glorious results.  Sloane Crosley has that ability which makes a great writer who is enormously enjoyable to watch and listen to.  She is not trying to be funny but she is.  She is funny because she doesn't try hard and why should she?  Its in her words, in her demeanor, in her joyful and warm presence but mostly in her keen observation of her detailed narrative.  Devil is not in her details, humor is. The writer who comes across as humorous and funny is usually very deep.  His or her words come from a raw core which is melodiously mixed with abstract touch of pain, sarcasam
and a sense of fun and Solane Crosely has that and effortlessly demonstrate that.

Even when she hasn't spoken a single word yet, her smile engulfs us and doesn't let us go till her last sentence.  Not every great writer has the ability to be a great reader.  Some are shy, some are self conscious, but not Ms. Crosley.  She is charming, confident, sure of her utterences and very enjoyable.

Her work reminded me of Nora Ephron. At the question answer session I asked her about what other writers and essayists influenced and inspired her and she said, Joan Didion.  I was a bit surprised
because Didion's novel, The Year Of Magical Thinking which I read the second time recently, is so very sad but then I thought about her essays which has the same kind of Simple, raw and personal feel like Ms Crosley and I was actually happy to have that answer because I adore Didion.

I have to confess my little regret of not attending these great literary events in the past at Bam Cafe.
The space is a dream with beautiful lights, the food is fresh, healthy and nourshing and people attending seems very much attuned to the upcoming writer to stand on that podium and share their
brilliant work with us and there is pindrop silence, no coughing, no unwrapping of the candies, just complete  concentration in the present moment of sharing and learning and listening to the melodiuos words.
Sad words, happy words, funny words, soul searching words...just words, words, words. Total bliss.
Can't wait for Min Jin Lee, the next writer on May 1.

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