VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?
CARSWELL: On my last book tour, I did a reading in Brooklyn. A local guy who I didn’t know was invited to open up the reading. I’m always down for local readers on book tours because they tend to bring a local crowd. Not this guy. Five minutes before the reading was supposed to start, only one person he invited had shown up: his infant daughter. She was crying quite a bit, so the local guy said he’d take her outside for a minute. Twenty-five minutes later—twenty minutes after his reading was supposed to start, ten minutes after the crowd started getting restless—he comes back. She’s still crying. No other friends of his have shown up. So, rather than doing the classy thing and saying, “Look, no one is here to see me and I need to tend to my child, so I’m going to bail on this reading and tend to her,” the local guy parks the stroller in the back of the crowd and starts his reading. The baby apparently decided she’d been abandoned and started howling. The local guy asked a woman in the crowd to rock the stroller. The woman reluctantly did this. The baby decided she was being given away and howled even more. The local guy, undaunted by the most basic paternal responsibilities, bravely carried on, reading his story over the cries of his child for the next fifteen minutes.
Sean Carswell is the author of the seven books: three novels (Drinks for the Little Guy, Train Wreck Girl, and Madhouse Fog), three short story collections (Glue and Ink Rebellion, Barney’s Crew, and The Metaphysical Ukulele), and, most recently, an academic monograph (Occupy Pynchon). He co-founded the independent book publisher Gorsky Press and the music magazine Razorcake. His writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Millions, Flipside, Thrasher, The Southeastern Review, The Rattling Wall, and many other places. He is an associate professor of writing and literature at California State University Channel Islands.