Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure (how overused, right? let’s say a moment of raspberry-vodka-infused kismet) of seeing Davy Rothbart and Rosecrans Baldwin read from their respective soon-to-blow-your-face-off books My Heart Is an Idiot and Paris, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down. They read together at the Russian Samovar on West 52nd St. as part of the FSG Reading Series. [Note: In the interest of transparency (take that, politicians!), I admit I do work part-time at FSG, but that in no way should hamper your feeling of having your face shredded after reading their work.]
Davy Rothbart: Founder of Found Magazine, who has also done pieces for This American Life. The basic premise of Found Magazine is that readers will send in letters or notes they’ve found, like, you know, on the streets, to give us a peek into strangers’ lives. Davy read a few found pieces, as well as a surprisingly funny personal piece about growing up with a deaf mother (somehow, the fact that it was humorous made it all the more real and moving, proving my formula: humor + sincerity + undercurrent of pathos = brilliance). Davy is an excellent reader, something I can’t say about many writers, and now my list of writers I could listen to all day long has increased to two people (the other person being Jim Shepard). Here’s a clip I found (found!) of Davy for y’all: View via YouTube. Find his book here.
Rosecrans Baldwin: Now here’s where we get serious. Rosecrans’s new book is about working at a Parisian ad agency while barely speaking French and knowing nothing about advertising. Sounded pretty cool - but how was I going to know this dude was legit? Luckily, I had my Russian- and French-speaking friend along with me - and she brought her friend from study abroad in France. They totally sympathized with Rosecrans’s funny, awkward stories about Paris. And I admit, as a Latina who’s had to navigate the kiss-on-the-cheek ritual across different cultures (and had to deal with French waiters snapping Bonjour! at me in Paris like they were trying to teach me something), I appreciated his take on le bis. It was…so true.
My formula works again - humor + sincerity + …pathos? - that’s all you need!
And some good company. And some raspberry-flavored vodka.