The Noyo River Review held its launch party on Sunday, May 13, at the Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino. The bookstore has a deep and abiding relationship with the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference, and when the Mendocino Odd Fellows building was sold last year and the conference lost one of its reading sites, the bookstore stepped up. The Review compiles work from the winners and finalists of the conference writing contests and includes excerpts of fiction, memoir, and poetry along with original (local) artwork. This year’s edition has a colorful abstract cover.
There were about 30 people in the audience (including the readers) and about ten people read, so the ratio was truly more audience members than performers. That’s always good.
A few things we heard:
- A bit from Donna Banta’s darkly comic short story “Still Life.”
- Cameron Lund’s bawdy and hilarious Young Adult selection Practice Makes Perfect.
- A searing depiction of violent death, in Charane Sirrine’s memoir “Behind the Redwood Curtain.”
- Roy Dufrain’s novel excerpt (The Blues and Willie Armstrong) in which his main character recalls a formative moment in his childhood, filled with vivid detail.
- Laugh-out-loud funny bit from “My Three Franken-Fems” by Aron Lee Bowe.
- A short section from my story “Littoral Zone.”
- Katie Pye read a playful, deep and sad poem written by Robyn T Murphy.
Several others, I didn’t get all the names. My apologies to those readers!
Susan Bono, who edited the anthology, started us off and introduced each reader. Everyone was courteous about staying to our 3-minute time frame.
Afterward, there was cake, with the cover of the journal iced onto it. Norma Watkins commented that the cake “needed extra editing.” When she arrived to pick it up, it had something else on the top. I heard a rumor it was a NaNoWRiMo themed thing. Anyway, she checked her proof-sheet, saw she had it right, and made them fix it. It also tasted yummy.
By the way, the Gallery Bookshop has expanded. It had always been L-shaped, with a long section that ran back and formed the children’s section (which was where we set up). Now, the area directly behind the square room where the cash registers are is their space. It has a set of unusual stairs and hold journals, travel and craft books, reference and tchokes, technically called sidelines. It’s a big help and a good sign for the store.
Later I had drinks and dinner with Donna and Mark. Bartender stories will follow! All in all, a great event.