For those who missed our Evening with Padgett Powell this past Wednesday ... well, we warned you about doing that. We found Mr. Powell's reading to be one of the best we've ever hosted and have received a general and approving consensus to add fuel to that claim. Powell, whom we annointed (by fire) "the New Godfather of Southern Letters," did not disappoint, first with a reading from his previous novel, The Interrogative Mood, accompanied by Dan Walters on keys, during which the audience was asked to contemplate, "... in sexual intercourse, (do) you prefer a thrashing style like the flight of a bat or a subtle style like a worm eating its way through dirt?"
He followed up with selections from his new novel, You & Me, accompanied again by Mr. Walters, this time on bass. The novel is a sort of grandiose and episodic call-and-response exercise that features two nameless characters, sitting on a porch "somewhere between Jacksonville, Florida, and Bakersfield, California," engaged in conversation that ranges from the crude and ridiculous to the perverse and philosophical. If his work sounds to you like a cute ploy, obnoxious experiment or simple bad idea, you underestimate the power of Powell's voice. He has the rare ability to write experimental fiction that does not stink of smarty pants. He forges moments of academic brilliance and low-brow comedy into a truly entertaining and uncommon satire. If William Faulkner had been born a generation later and was writing for the modern age, this is what it would it look like.
We were lucky that Mr. Powell was traveling with a band, led by Mississippi native Beth McKee. Her bluesy, piano-driven songs were a wonderful surprise and added a welcome dimension to this precious evening.
So if you missed it, or if you'd just like to experience it again, take a look at this clip to hear the author read and get a fix on his dry cadence. If you'd like to get closer to the author still, order a signed first edition of You & Me from our website.