Show Us Your Lits

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Between the Brooklyn Book Festival, the untimely passing of David Foster Wallace and the slew of literary events on our calendars this week, books have been on the brain.

The writerly weekend kicked off early, however, with the launch of the newest season of lit lady Amanda Stern's Happy Ending Reading Series.

When I first got to the jam-packed party at the faux dive bar Happy Ending, a man was reading about killing a girl in a car crash when he was in high school. Despite the downer opening, as soon as that was over, things picked right up.

Techno titan (and birthday boy) Moby, picked some bluesy solos on his black Gibson SG, dueling with Little Death bandmate Darren Murphy on harmonica. The crowd of bookish hipsters and curiosity-seeking yuppies even clapped along when stacked blond singer Laura Dawn asked for a beat to a Bossa Nova version of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell.”

After the last number, Moby asked the audience with a leer, "This is a literary crowd, you all know what a little death is, right?"

Press alum Jonathan Ames, in a plaid jacket and tweed newsboy cap, took the mic. “I have a dry mouth from smoking pot,” he quipped before letting loose with several loud, cackling “hairy calls.” “That’s what me and my friends used to sound like when we were going crazy in the ’70s,” he explained to me afterward.

Stern, a Greenwich Village native who met Moby when she was only 13, brought out a birthday cake—surely vegan—for her pal, since Moby was turning 43.

Rumored to have adopted his moniker in honor of Moby Dick, written by his ancestor Herman Melville, I sat down with the guest of honor to talk about his taste in books.

“I used to be a real lit snob because I was a philosophy major in college,” he said. “But a lifetime of traveling has led to an obsession with airport books—the really bad novels that you buy in Hudson News.”

He cited mass-market authors like Harlan Coban and F. Paul Wilson as “really talented writers that wanted a large audience.”

So, there’s no more highbrow reading for you? I wondered. Showing the wisdom of his age, Moby said, “I like that to know what I'm getting into.”

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