At last year’s Independent Small Press Book Fair, an imposing man posing in a tux (or perhaps not) took charge of a Literary Trivia Smackdown. The man was Tim Brown. This feral contest of wit and esoteric facts pitted A Public Space against The New York Review of Books. I attended this smackdown as a participant, entreating A Public Space to do better. I vowed to Mr. Brown and all the participants and all of the audience members and just about anybody who would listen that a group of litbloggers would be happy to challenge the winner to a new match. At long last, the great divide between print and online would come together in a battle of wills.
Well, the New York Review of Books won. And everything was set for this weekend. But at the eleventh hour, the New York Review of Books ran away, due to a combination of health problems involving one panelist’s father and fear. While all sympathies go out to this panelist’s father, one wonders whether the New York Review of Books abides by a helpful theatrical adage applicable to nearly all scenarios.
Thankfully, PEN America has stepped in at the last minute, stepping away from their human rights duties to contend with the strange specimens trawling and caterwauling in the litblogosphere. And the show will go on!
The litbloggers will be represented by Levi Asher, Eric Rosenfield, Sarah Weinman, and some assclown named Ed Champion. We may sing a few of our answers, or provide light verse to accompany our responses. I may bring a musical instrument or, at the very least, some spoons to play in between rounds if there is enough demand.
The PEN America team will be represented by David Haglund, Meghan Kyle-Miller, Larry Siems, and Lilly Sullivan. It is not yet known how serious this quartet plans to take this literary smackdown. But we have been informed by Mr. Brown that rules are now in place, and that apparently one can use a lifeline. Should our own team prove deficient in answering a question and require a lifeline, we will employ funny voices.
All of this silliness is going down at 4:00 PM this Sunday at the General Society Building located at 20 West 44th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenue). A considerable number of subway lines will get you there: the 1, 2, 3, A, C, E, R, and N.
Should you wish to cheer us on or mock us, the choice is happily deferred to you.