Julie Klausner is wearing a zebra pattern dress, denim jacket, and black boots. Her red hair sits under a round fur hat she guesses has been made from a fox, maybe two. She sits at a table towards the back of WORD Bookstore on Franklin Ave, as people hand her copies of her book, I Don’t Care About Your Band: What I Learned from Indie Rockers, Trust Funders, Pornographers, Felons, Faux-Sensitive Hipsters, and Other Guys I’ve Dated to sign. Almost every fan has a tale to tell about his or her own woeful dating experiences. One girl mentions that she has her own band, and she and Klausner start chatting. Klausner asks her star sign; they’re both cancers.
It was a rainy night, but a crowd of people packed the basement at WORD on Tuesday for Klausner’s event on Heartbreak Hilarity, which featured Rachel Shukert and Mike Albo—fellow authors and friends of Klausner’s. It was a perfect line-up of offbeat silliness and serious laughs—the kind you get when you’re hanging out with your friends, if you’re friends with hilarious comedians, which the three authors are. Their timing and comedic chops ensured the reading was a night of belly laughs, but it’s their sharp but friendly writing styles that invite readers to connect with them about something we all know about: love and heartbreak in New York.
“I think that hearing about other people’s heartbreak makes you feel better, like you’re part of a continuum of misfortune,” Shukert said. “People like to hear about bad things happening to other people, but not in a mean way. The things that we write are sort of written like we’re your friends. It’s something that people connect to.”
The night started with Klausner and Shukert performing an excerpt from a piece they wrote for McSweeney’s Internet Tendencies, an imagined collection of voicemails from a drunken and delusional Andrew Lloyd Webber pitching the plots for his musicals to his lyricist, Tim Rice. (“Tim, I want you to write songs for human beings to sing whilst they’re wearing unitards adorned with clumps of yak fur and their faces are painted like Ziggy Stardust if he were a chimney sweep.”)
Shukert (whose last book was Have You No Shame) then read from her upcoming book, Everything Is Going to Be Great, a smattering of observations, stories, and hypotheticals based on time she spent living in Amsterdam.
“It’s sort of like Eat, Pray, Love, if she didn’t have any money, or a place to live…and woke up in the emergency room a lot,” she explained.
Mike Albo, author of The Underminer: The Best Friend who Casually Destroys Your Life, and an upcoming work, The Junkett, followed with a piece on love, heartbreak, the penniless and bizarre life of a writer, and dancing in a corporate logo costume for a pharmaceutical marketing company.
“I’m going to write about another kind of heartbreak,” he prefaced. “Which is with the city of New York.”
“For me, I feel like I’ve had a relationship with the city,” Albo said after the reading. “I want to keep reminding myself that it was healthy and not just messed up. I think sharing stories of this city with others makes us feel a lot more stable.”
Klausner ended the night by reading a chapter from her book, “Paperclips vs. Larry Flint,” about her tryst with a boring porn-industry marketer. Maybe not the most universal experience, but her book has still struck a chord with readers, who are eager to share their own stories with her.“It’s funny. I’m always happy to hear them,” Klausner said. “I’ve realized that I’m just here to listen. When you expose that much of yourself, in invites a participatory response. I take that as a compliment. I’ve been totally thrilled to know that people get it and about how they’ve responded. And no one has confessed a crime to me yet, so that’s good.”
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