Literary Chicago


Quickies! Says, “Good Riddance”

June 27, 2011 By: Mason Johnson Category: End of an Era, Reading Series

Let’s make this quick(ies), I got shit to do.

Heh, get it? Quickies. Like the reading series that just said goodbye to co-host Mary Hamilton cause that ho is moving to LA? Like the reading series I’m reviewing right now, at this very moment?

Oh, go to hell. Puns are cool.


Goodbyes can get awkward. They can be teary-eyed catastrophes where people turn into miserable, blubbering messes. If you’re a pussy, that is. Thankfully, Mary Hamilton ain’t no pussy. She’s one tough broad. She kept the waterworks at bay, which helped her last Chicago Quickies! stand out as something to remember (and not be embarrassed about).

Quickies!, the reading where participants must read their entire story in four minutes or less, had a few differences this time around. Firstly, Lindsay Hunter (1), Mary’s other half, had instructed all the writers involved to read something that had to do with Mary. The topics and themes were quite varied. Robbie Q. Telfer’s honored the Hamilton by speaking about Night Court’s Bull Shannon. (3) Most interesting was Jacob Knabb, who is typically loathed for singing at readings, I mean, really hated, but outdid himself with his extremely enjoyable rendition of Boys II Men’s “End of the Road” (4). What stood out most was Theo Huxtable (5), mentioned in practically every piece, exemplifying Mary’s apparent “perfect man.” (Dyslexic, but handsome, amirite? High five!)

The most entertaining parts of the night came from Mary Hamilton’s whistle (not a euphemism). Typically, whenever a reader hits the four minute mark, Mary blows a whistle to signify that they should get the hell away from the mic. Rules were different this night though. She was free to whistle whenever she wanted to. For example: through all of Patrick Somerville’s piece. I have no idea what it was about, but boy is he a tough li’l soldier for continuing through Mary’s sonic onslaught. Mostly the whistle was used to keep our emotions in check, lest we turn into a buncha fourteen-year-old girls leaking salty water from our eye sockets (Dave Snyder and I turned into fourteen year old girls once, it was awful). If Robyn Pennacchia tried to profess her love to Mary while she read, then she’d get the whistle to put her in place. If Lindsay started to read something she wrote that was actually somewhat sentimental, BAM, whistle. She should know better anyways. The whistle really exemplified what Mary Hamilton is to everyone: a chick who keeps everyone in line. And everyone lets her because everyone loves her. Without Mary Hamilton, where exactly will Chicago be? I don’t quite know, but it’s gonna be real damn depressing, that’s for sure. Thanks for leaving, Mary. You asshole. (6)


  1. Originally, I wrote “Lindsay Hamilton,” combining Lindsay Hunter
    and Mary Hamilton into one person. Big mistake, especially because
    this real life combination would be disastrous. Like the perfect
    serial killer. Our hobo population would disappear. I don’t care what
    you say about hobos, I like them.
  2. This comment has nothing to do with Mary (not everything’s about
    you, Hamilton), I just wanted to point out that footnotes really don’t
    work well in WordPress. Sorry.
  3. This guy! Ugh…
  4. Originally, I thought he had performed “I’ll Make Love To You,”
    which is another great B2Men song. I was wrong. Again. I was wrong a
    lot in this review. Also, Jacob’s real high point that night was when
    he and I picked up two glasses of beer, both from strangers, and drank
    them down. The story to that exists below in the comments section.
    Matt Rowan corrected my use of “peaked,” pointing out that I was
    looking for “piqued.” He’s peaked my interest in punching him in the
  5. I originally wrote “Huxely” instead of “Huxtable.” As if the
    handsome dyslexic were really a lame sci-fi writer who liked LSD.
  6. Nothing has been pointed out as incorrect in this paragraph… yet.
    Give it time I suppose. I think I learned something from writing this
    review. Mainly, writing a review of a reading two weeks after it
    happened, on your smart phone as you ride the train, is a bad idea.
    Especially when you were half sick / half tipsy at said reading,
    sitting in the back where you couldn’t see the readers and could only
    hear half of what they said. Whoops. Sorry for being a failure. <3


Related Posts
You Don’t Know How It Feels To Be Pulled Inside Out: An Ode To Bull Shannon
(story by Mary Hamilton published in PANK Magazine)
Reader Meet Author (interview with Mary Hamilton in What to Wear During an Orange Alert?)


Life After the Creative Writing Program

April 22, 2011 By: Alba Machado Category: Reading Series

Mason Johnson

So you’ve earned a degree in Fiction Writing from Columbia College Chicago. Now what? If you’re Mason Johnson, you start your own monthly reading series which presents writing on a theme of your choice. You call this series Piss Fanatics in honor of an inside joke, and perhaps to signal your predilection for bawdy talk. You arrange for your series to take place in a tavern called Moe’s, a place that’s no stranger to off-color language, a place with a pool table and a foosball table, two widescreen TVs and, during your second event, a large brown rottweiler. This demonstrates your belief that writing should not be confined to academic settings, or to cafes, theaters, libraries and bookstores. You make the theme of your second reading “Hair,” which is only natural, since your own hair seems to have taken on a life of its own, much like David Axelrod’s mustache (as revealed by Dan Sinker in his legendary Rahm Emanual Twitter saga). Also: certain types of hair can make for an awful lot of bawdy talk. Finally, you gather together a group of talented Chicago writers: Mairead Case, founding editor of Proximity Magazine; Mary Hamilton, winner of Rose Metal Press’ 4th Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest; Matt Rowan, editor-in-chief of Untoward Magazine; Samantha Irby, author of the Bitches Gotta Eat blog; Ian Dick Jones, co-host of Columbia College’s SilverTongue reading series; Mark Schettler, co-editor of the School of the Art Institute’s In Preparation magazine; and Dan Shapiro, Columbia College student.

All graduates of creative writing programs should be as industrious as you, Mason Johnson. But they should not all have manga/anime hair.

Mairead Case

Related Blog Post
P. Fanatics Presents: Hair Reading Recap


Making Your Audience Squirm

July 29, 2010 By: Alba Machado Category: Theatrical Author Readings

Tim Jones-Yelvington at Open Books in Chicago.

One way to heighten the tension at a reading? Well, if you’re reading a story called “Slime Me,” and it’s about a boy who passionately longs to be slimed, then one way to make your listeners squirm is to open up a plastic container of neon-green slime and hold it at a slight angle, just enough so that a tiny bit starts to ooze out. It helps if you have purple sequins glued to your face. That tells your listeners that you are more theatrical than most and that maybe, just maybe, you will draw them into your story by giving them what your protagonist wants most of all, the thrill (or horror, depending on your point of view) of being slimed. Tim Jones-Yelvington takes this approach tonight at Open Books. There’s a ripple of apprehensive laughter as he tilts his little cup o’goop and reads, “He hungered for the spread of slime across his skin, his favorite the viscous kind that crept to cover, coat, encase.”

Jones-Yelvington is one of five authors brought to us this evening by Rose Metal Press and Barrelhouse Magazine. We also have Mary Hamilton reading from We know what we are, the winner of Rose Metal’s fourth annual Short Short Chapbook Contest; James Tadd Adcox reading three stories published in Barrelhouse, including “No One in the Office Knows What the Work Is”; and Simone Muench and Phil Jenks reading from a collection of poems they wrote and published collaboratively, Little Visceral Carnival. All in all, excellent prose and poetry–and no one is getting slimed.

Related Blog Posts
Open Books: Not Your Average Bookstore
Last Night at Open Books in Chicago

Peter Venkman Gets Slimed