November 07, 2008

Down and Out on Murder Mile by Tony O’Neill

  • About the author MS

imagename As is my blog m.o., I’ve failed to report in a timely manner on a great event. This past Sunday at KGB Bar we celebrated the publications of The Wrecking Ball by Christiana Spens and Down and Out on Murder Mile by Tony O’Neill. Christiana had the bad luck of falling sick on the eve of her flight from the UK so was unable to make her US debut. This left us in the capable (warm, generous) hands of Tony O’Neill who read to a crowded KGB. Free pizza and booze were available for an hour prior to the reading, and the audience, apparently unsatiated, booed their displeasure at the closing of the open bar. Tony prevailed with poems and the first chapter of his book, reading with characteristic flair, dropping into the slurred, drowsed voices of the addicts and dealers that populate his work. The energy of the event made such the impression that it garnered mention on the New Yorker‘s Book Bench, where Jenna Krajeski described the scene:

…as readings go, this one was a little like a rock concert. A tan-colored mutt, whom no one in the room could claim, roamed between our feet. A bleach blonde wore sunglasses indoors. During O’Neill’s reading—he began, apologetically, with four poems—a middle-aged couple near the front locked themselves into a prolonged kiss. The small room began to smell like cigarette smoke. People loudly booed the announcement that the bar would close during the actual reading. The novel’s newlyweds berated one another for spending their last fifty dollars on a marriage license, and not on drugs.

We just hope the mood travels. Tony will appear in Portland this weekend and Los Angeles and New Orleans the week after. Whether or not you can make an event, Down and Out on Murder Mile offers an excellent introduction to one of our favorite young writers.