At the risk of further coming across as a cantankerous crank, here is one of my pet peeves.
Readings are usually more hit than miss, and one of the things that make me feel this way about them are introductions of writers. Usually, they amount to little more than a portrait of a wall covered with calligraphied pedigrees, an inventory of said writer’s awards and prizes, as if reciting the contents of a trophy case; a package, in other words, of useless information, useless not because these things don’t matter—they can be substantial, admirable, and inspiring accomplishments—but because they give no real indication about who they are as writers, or rather, and perhaps more importantly, what their writing is like.
For some reason, these rote, paint-by-numbers introductions occur most often at readings by fiction writers, less so, at least in my experience, in readings by poetry writers (that last description alludes to another of my pet peeves). Case in point, last night I attended a night of readings by writers, and each of the introductions were excellent, providing brief analyses of each of the writer’s work. A refreshing departure, I’d say.
Am I alone here?
John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.