West Coast based fiction writer Pamela Lu--best known for her witty and adventurous work that explores genre boundaries between fiction and non-fiction and various reconfigurations of the narrative literary subject--is the co-featured reader in tonight's Just Buffalo BIG NIGHT event beginning at 8 p.m. at the Western New York Book Arts Center, 468 Washington St. (near Mohawk St.) in Buffalo.
Lu, who holds a degree in mathematics from the University at California-Berkeley and has worked since the mid-1990's as a technical writer in Silicon Valley, currently lives in San Francisco's Mission District and is the founder of Idiom, an online journal and chapbook series.
Her most recent book is "Ambient Parking Lot" (Kenning Editions, 2011), a novel written in the first person plural (i.e., "collective") voice of a group of touring conceptual musicians ("The Ambient Parkers") who play and record Brian Eno-inspired ambient music in the parking lots of major cities across America. Although the narrative sparkles with absurdist, deadpan humor and an insider's knowledge of critical theory as performance shtick, it never descends into outright satire, maintaining an essential earnestness not unlike that of another San Franciscan, Richard Brautigan, writing about the 1960's.
Lu's debut "non-fiction" book "Pamela: A Novel" (Atelos, 1998), played off the entire canon of English language narrative writing, beginning with Samuel Richardson's epistolary "Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded" (1740), generally considered the first novel published in English, to effect a kind of counter-genre, the "anti-memoir," where the first person singular "I," the first person plural "we," and the character identified as "Pamela Lu" cohabited in an uneasy, non-identical narrative space.
"In my work, the sequence of short, anecdotal paragraphs serve as a reproduction of my private storytelling which filters through discontinuous and disjointed events in an attempt to chase some continuity in mood or emotional truth, if any exists," Lu was quoted by Carole Maso in her essay "Begin in Singing" published in American Book Review in 2002. At least one critic referred to "Pamela" as the "last great novel of the 20th century," while Lu herself described it simply as "vexed, complicated" and "about San Francisco writers in their 20's."
Sharing headliner status with Lu will be Noah Falck, a relative newcomer to the Buffalo writers' community, but one who brings a considerable body of work as a poet and teacher with him. A native of Dayton, Ohio who holds an M.A. in Literacy Education from The University Dayton, Falck is the author of the full-length poetry collection “Snowmen Losing Weight” (BatCat Press, 2012) and the chapbooks “Life As A Crossword Puzzle” (Open Thread, 2009), “Measuring Tape for the Midwest” (Pavement Saw, 2008), and “Homemade Engines from a Dream” (Pudding House, 2007). He has received fellowships from the Kenyon Review Writer’s Workshop and Antioch Writer’s Workshop. His poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and appeared widely in journals such as Boston Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Forklift Ohio, Greensboro Review, Gulf Coast, Kenyon Review, and Smartish Pace.
A former elementary school teacher in the Dayton area, Falck recently joined the staff of Just Buffalo Literary Center as its Education Director.
Also on the program for tonight's event is a performance/installation by Kyle Butler, a visual artist from Michigan who currently lives in Buffalo, where he received his Master's degree in Visual Studies from the University at Buffalo in 2010. Butler describes his work as reflecting on "the sort of behavior people assume when presented with disorder, often using urban sociology, architecture, and system-oriented material exercises as [its] starting points."
Opening and closing tonight's progam will be music by the sound collective Gutpole--Buffalo's own devotees of the ambient music genre--comprised of Jim Abramson (percussion ), Scott Valkwitch (strings and electronics) and Patrick Cain (saxophone, voice, and electronics).
As with all BIG NIGHT events, the culinary creations of BlazeVox Books publisher and gourmet chef Geoffrey Gatza will be a focal point of the festivities. Admission is $5, $4 for students, Just Buffalo members, and members of its affiliate organizations.