Wells, H. G.

In the Avu Observatory

A few days ago, I took a little trip to Toronto, where the jazz singers scat to sheet music, where wine is poured long before noon, and where the best booksellers refuse to serve the likes of me. While there, I spent a day in rooms full of brainy people as obsessive as I am about books and reading and great literature and using technology in the service of all these things. That’s right: me, your Miette, dropped down in the middle of Booknerdville. Must I even mention that it was terrific?

In the middle of all this, high on cold medicine in an open, hot, noisy college classroom, I set up all my equipment and made today’s audio book with a few of those people. Our makeshift recording studio was less than ideal, and I doled out narration assignments on the fly to whomever would take them. And, in addition to our room being ‘hot’ (both in room temperature and audio-wise), across the hall was another room full of laughing booklovers getting loaded on morning wine. So when you hear the occasional burst of drunken laughter in the background, that’s what it was. Drunk Torontans, courtesy (I hear), of this guy, and I don’t know what they were laughing at. If it’s anything like what I laugh at when I’m drunk at ten thirty in the morning, it was probably inappropriate.

Given those disclaimers, our recording came out not at all badly. And knowing that, I’d love for those of you who read to think of how it might come out if you’re recording where you’re comfortable (not to a room of people, and not a text you’d never seen, and not being pestered by the likes of me.) And, as I mentioned, shoot a note if you have any questions at all.

Many many many thanks to Victor, Ben, Mary, Ron, Jeevan, and Promod for reading with me– I had a blast and you all sound just lovely (and did I forget you? Please email me. And do you have a site or want a link? Also email me).

I hope you had anywhere near as much fun as I did.

Bellow, Saul

Sono and Moso

Last week’s New Yorker magazine included a series of letters written by Saul Bellow to other writers. I’ve often thought epistolary exchange between writers to be the most nettly of writing, both the most effusive and the most sincere, the most pretentious and the most vein-splittingly self-conscious. It’s hard to get it right.

(An aside: I know, sitting in a hotel bar reading the New Yorker says all sorts of things about my character, and you can judge and you’ll probably be right. Case in point: I like arugula.)

But I loved these letters, and couldn’t stop reading them, and blame the quantity of booze consumed that night on the fact that I had no choice but to sit and dumbly nod at the barman for countless refills while plying my way through. This is the one, for the curious among you, that really made my seat wobbly.

Really, just to say that if you want to be penpals, that’d be okay by me.

Hanley, James

The Butterfly

I’ve been wanting to read James Hanley to you for a couple of months now, ever since he was reintroduced to me a few months ago while I was yearning for a bathematic submergence in a foreign hotel. So much of it was grim and wintery and lonesome, and while this was all right smack up my own personal bowling alley, I wasn’t about to take you down that lane with me. I’m thoughtful that way.

But today, sunshiny and springy and cheerful, I had a little encounter with a little critter (more about which you’ll hear if you don’t automatically fast-forward through my spoken moment preceding the story), and it struck me that now’s the time to read you something on the sad side.

(N.B.: admittedly, a story about the self-entitlement among those in positions of religious authority is somewhat topical, eh? Which may be at least partially why this particular story has been noodling on the chorus of the old bean lately. But it’s more than that, as these things often are, and know that my reading of this story should by no means be perceived as “my religion can beat up your religion.” Because you probably don’t want my opinion on such things– and that’s one area in which I’ll happily oblige. And, damn, that can get me into trouble, too, so maybe let’s just hit the button that sends the story from me to you already.).

Lispector, Clarice

The Fifth Story

I read recently about toxic bread in a sleepy French village, about mass hallucinations and the newly revealed hypothesis that the CIA was responsible for covert LSD experiments. Apparently, the same thing might have happened in the subways of New York. And suddenly, so much is explained, especially as pertains to cockroach-squashing memories.

These days, when the shadows on your computer screen start doing some sort of cold Finnish tango across the monitor, maybe you should refrain from thinking you work too hard, and just sit back and try to enjoy it.


(N.B. OH! And if this story doesn’t keep you sated until next time, you really should go and see my friends at Revolving Floor, where I’ve put voice to microphone on a glorious Lilithian poem by Amy Meckler. Get over there.)

Millet, Lydia

Sir Henry

I have a good excuse to spare you my blathery scrawl about the show-stopping beauty in this story — the hot cats at Electric Literature have done so in a flashier way, and before you even tap the PLAY button on your baubly mp3 players, you ought to watch this:

Nice, right? Apparently an artist named Luca Dipierro is to blame.

But it’s time to forcibly extract the candy from your eyes and cram it in your ears. Here’s a story.

Queneau, Raymond

The Trojan Horse

Sometimes I think you haven’t lived until you’ve been given the shoulder by a drunken horse in a bar. Other times I think the very stuff of life happens from being the drunken horse in a bar. But usually, it has to do with neither of these things, and I’m fairly certain that none of it would be worth the slightest damn if there was no Queneau to neigh by.

For those interested, I dug up a little history about the story and posted it over here.

Lynch, Benito

The Sorrel Colt

The other day I was walking through a blistering, blustery, blinding-white below-zero snowstorm, cursing the day I decided not to live on a Caribbean island, and doubly cursing the day I decided not to be born with antifreeze for blood. Because if I had been born with antifreeze for blood, I’d probably have other alien characteristics as well, such as the ability to launch an anvil from my hand that I could drop on the head of the person walking in the snowstorm next to me when that person proclaimed: “at last! This is what January is SUPPOSED to be like.”

But I have neither alien nor supervillain powers, nor, really, the desire to be violent in an anvil-dropping way, so instead, I started to think about what these months might be like if I had my say.

And hence, Benito Lynch. Hope it keeps you warm.

Ioannides, Panos


So, I know very little about the author of tonight’s story. He has no Wikipedia page in any language that I can gather, one used copy of an out-of-print collection of stories available in English (that I can cursorily find, anyhow), and a slight dusting of a presence in literary anthologies, including one in which I dusted off this. In fact, the only thing I’m certain of regarding tonight’s author is that I really ought to attempt to learn basic Greek pronunciation if I’m going to crack at anything like this again.

It’s a fiery little story, though. Let me know what you know, if you know what I think you know. And if you don’t know, teach me Greek.

And, this is the last time I’ll mention it here (for now), for fear of becoming Miette’s Bedtime Story Infomercial, but if you’re still hungry when you’ve finished with this, you should listen to my narration of the first chapters of The Man Who Can’t Die.

Babel, Isaac


Oh, aren’t we lucky!? A double-bluffed, double-dipped, double-headed dose of Isaac Babel. When you’ve had a listen here and discover that you’re still running low on your recommended daily serving of Babel, you might head here to find a new recording of an old reading of another one.

And because I’m not above shallow attempts to inveigle you into listening, let me mention that this story includes a pivotal scene with one man sucking the blood from the neck of the other. How’s that for a quick million?

Also, note that tomorrow (7th January 2010) will feature the debut of my audio recording of Jon Frankel’s The Man Who Can’t Die. I’m not as good at pure self-promotion as a I am inveigling, or else you would have found out about this podcast through some anthropomorphic cartoon string bean singing a jingle about it on the television. But I’m excited about it and hope you are too.