The Unknown: The Red Line.
  First stop Midwest tour, Normal, Illinois. Dinner at Curt White’s. Tabouli, falafel with tahini, vegetarian lasagna, fresh french bread and sections of blood oranges for dessert. Krass-Mueller even showed. The Dalkey people were there pushing contemporary Irish stuff and a reprint of the Oulipo anthology. Which William and Dirk are both nuts about. John O'Brien explained the effect of James Joyce on the American collective unconscious. On a five-dollar bet from William, Krass-Mueller recited the first three pages of Gravity’s Rainbow from memory. Everyone acknowledged the amazingness of the feat. Krass-Mueller used the fiver to light his cigar, which Curt promptly chastised him for. Not because it was illegal, but because it was such a flagrant example of conspicuous consumption. Tensions dissolved after a thumb-wrestling war. A good time was indeed had by all.

The reading at Babbitt’s the next morning was quiet and comfortable. Polite graduate students with tattoos and Dr. Seuss hats quizzed us on the implicit Marxism in the hypertext, the contrapuntal variations of which could be found in The Unknown itself. Smart kids, those. Dirk, I might add, handled the questions very well. William and I were too awash in a glowy sense of nostalgia for those caffeine-and-beer-drenched nights past spent playing writing games near the campus of our alma mater to bring to full bear our critical apparatuses.

We were more coherent in Champaign.
Audio Button
The Midwest
Read 9/5/98
at Mike’s House
211K RealAudio Clip

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