SAMPSELL WEEK (3): A READING @ A READING (PART DEUX)
There’s a little girl sitting in the children’s section of Skylight Books reading a picture book; she looks about six or seven. (Too old to be reading a picture book. What the fuck? I was reading Bunnicula by that age.) I’m sitting in the back of the audience, so I can see into that section of the bookstore. Kevin Sampsell, who is reading from A Common Pornography, can’t. He doesn’t know that the little kid is listening to him read about the time he had manual sex with a stranger in the back of a porn shop.
The little girl’s father is around here somewhere, although I don’t see him right now. He looks a little ominous in that lanky, muscular, tattooed L.A. way that I’m not used to yet. It’s only been 48 hours since I got to L.A. I don’t really know how to drive and almost got into like three accidents on the way to Skylight Books. Then when I walked in (slightly late because I can’t drive, that’s why I’m in the back) I saw the backs of two familiar heads, the heads of Ned Vizzini and Sabra Embury. Next to their heads was an unfamiliar head. That head turned and I recognized Ken Baumann, who I hadn’t seen before except once very briefly at Barbes Brooklyn. I’d learned only recently that he’s one of the stars of an ABC Family TV show. On TV he looks kind of like a young, skinny James Franco. In person he looks more like a mad scientist, or like Egon from Ghostbusters.
Kevin Sampsell continues reading. The little girl does not react at all to the descriptions of sex acts which are being read about twenty-five feet away from her. Her father does not appear and cause a scene. Sampsell reads to us about his high school girlfriend. It’s funny and good. One time a while back, I read something called A Common Pornography by Kevin Sampsell, a shorter version of what’s been published now, and thought it was excellent, but I haven’t read the new version yet. I’m going to. Good on Harper Perennial for publishing it. HTML Giant folks keep referring to Sampsell as “label-mate” because they’re on Harper Perennial too. I can also say “label-mate” even though I’m not on Harper Perennial. That’s because Sampsell was published by Word Riot back when. After Sampsell finishes, much of the crowd comes up to congratulate him. The book sounds and looks good. (Later, I buy it.) Then we go out for Indian food. I don’t know what Sampsell has, but Ken Baumann and I eat a plate of Indian onion rings, which are the best onion rings I’ve ever had.