Just got back from Brooklyn to see my friend the writer William Lannigan read a piece of a memoir focusing on Prospect Park in Brooklyn. The evening was a reading by over a dozen finalists in a contest for the best short nonfiction about Brooklyn. Most of it about a Brooklyn that once was.
Bill's piece knocked me out both as written and read. In many ways it was one of the most challenging pieces of the evening because he put himself out in a way that was so personally honest about race and ethnicity and changing concepts of both that made some of the other attempts to address that seem almost generic and over sentimentalized.
But all the writing was good, some of it brilliant, and the variety of approaches to Brooklyn and the writers' personal relationships and histories with Brooklyn was almost as varied as the borough itself. Though the evening would have worked better had it been broken into two evenings, or even three. As it was it tried the patience of a large crowd that showed up despite the sub freezing weather.
But most of the audience stayed with it and engaged with the offerings and responded warmly to them. I came away juiced by and grateful for the commitment to the creative urge that led these various writers—old and young, Jewish and Irish and Italian and Caribbean and Asian and African and more—to do the work necessary to make it to being a finalist among some pretty terrific writing.
Don't you just love all the creativity in the world there is to engage with and be rewarded by? I do.