The Liars League (or Reading Aloud for Grown-Ups)

Silas Hawkins—reads with aplomb.

Silas Hawkins—reads with aplomb.

Earlier this month, one of my short stories was featured at the Liars’ League, a kind of live action literary journal. It’s a monthly reading series where professional actors read new short fiction. This might seem like an obvious combination, akin to writing for the stage, but as far as I know the event is relatively unique (not counting other chapters of the League operating in other cities).

On the night, I learned the idea for the Liars’ League sprung from a somewhat dull reading, in which actors in that crowd were disappointed by the writers’ renditions of their own work. They thought, why not let us give it a go? There is a certain (somewhat brutal) truth here—sometimes we writers are best kept on the page.

That said, when you’ve written books for children, reading expressively and out loud more or less comes with the territory. But short fiction for grown-ups is whole other camel. The brevity of a short story, where characters may only deliver a single line of dialogue, make it easy to neglect things like voices and accents. When I’m reading for adults, I rarely think of dramatically altering my voice or worse, doing an accent—even when its explicitly in the text. Hearing a professional actor do it, however, was a pleasure.

The theme for the evening—they each have one—was Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I submitted a story called “The Anonymity of Buses”, subsequently read with aplomb by Silas Hawkins. Have a listen:

The other stories that night were

A Model World by Owen Booth
Greenlanders by Cherry Potts
500 Miles by Liam Hogan
The Connection by Ingrid Jendrzejewski
Arkham Roadside Assistance by Gregory Adams

You can hear/watch them all, read by various actors, at the League’s Youtube channel. And if you happen to reading this in NYC, there’s a chapter of the Liar’s League over there, too.

Good times.

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