I admit I had some initial trepidation about attending Grown Folks Story Time at Bookbound. I worried it was either going to be too precious or that there would be too much pseudo-intellectual banter (which is one of the three things that the organizers caution as a possibility). The event is cozily tucked into a back corner of the store, with a half-circle of folding chairs and a table with some tea and refreshments laid out.
The vibe is pleasantly laid-back, like a kind of literary potluck. Event organizer Patti Smith and one other reader got into the spirit of the event and wore pajamas, but everyone else opted for the dubious dignity of street clothes. The readings are a mix of original short fiction and children’s books, with humorous commentary.
The evening began with local software engineer and self-proclaimed “proud weirdo” Cheryl Orosz sharing a Little Red Hen picture book where the hen’s first reaction to every adversity is to sigh and exclaim, “CLUCK” (as in, rhymes with …). Journalist Jenn McKee read a Curious George story, expressing exasperation at the utter lack of negative consequences for the pernicious primate.
Storytime then shifted a bit as Michael Ferro read from his satirical debut novel TITLE 13 and a short story about a newly wealthy woman who flaunts her Manolo Blahniks at the homeless people among whom she used to live. Ypsilanti horror writer Ken MacGregor (a regular at these events) read his own short story about a man who has sex with his Sherpa while climbing Everest only to discover that the Sherpa had already died.
The original fiction changed the event’s atmosphere for me. I wasn’t expecting to attend an author reading, and after chuckling through lighthearted snarky commentary, the shift felt awkward. Several audience members seemed quite enthused, but I was happier unabashedly reveling in what we loved reading as kids, which, when I attended, was a read-through of the passage in Beverly Cleary’s Ramona the Brave where Ramona tries to say what she believes is a swear word and fails. (It’s “guts.”)
If you’re looking to unplug for a while and recapture the magical feeling of sitting among strangers while someone reads to you, Grown Folks Story Time is perfect–provided you, like Ramona, enjoy the occasional bad word. However, after an hour of sitting on the floor or a metal folding chair, you will feel your age. You may want to bring the pillow or blanket that organizers suggest.
Grown Folks Story Time happens again on June 20.