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A West Coast celebration of Open City

January 23, 2009 | 10:42 am


Independent publisher Open City regularly hosts readings and parties in New York, much of the time at KGB. So when co-editor Joanna Yas was looking for a place in L.A., Bar Lubitsch — with its dark reds and slightly worn Russian theme — felt like the perfect fit.

On Wednesday night Yas threw a party there for Open City Magazine #26. As you'd expect, there were a couple of contributors in attendance. Matthew Specktor has a short story in this issue; his debut novel, "That Summertime Sound," is due out, appropriately, this summer. Strawberry Saroyan has a poem — "They call it a poem," she said, not entirely sure that it was. It looks a lot like a series of Facebook updates to me (most lines begin with "Strawberry is . . . ," although they could be Tweets too); but sure, it's poetry. Saroyan is the author of "Girl Walks Into a Bar: A Memoir" and is, yes, the granddaughter of William Saroyan.

Quite a literary heritage. But the interesting thing about the party at Bar Lubitsch — other than the fact that the music was quiet enough so you could actually hear people talk — was that it drew such a diverse crowd. There were plenty of writers, from Walter Kirn to people with books on the way or stories out now or projects they were working on. But there were others, too: With Joanna Yas, left, in the photo above are Jennifer Hall, a veterinarian, and Lara Steinick, an actress. Surfer/photographer Jamie Brisick was there, as was a singer from the faux-French band Nous Non Plus, Jean-Luc Retard (aka Dan Crane, who is also an author). What with poets and "the guy who wrote the 'Bourne' movies" circulating amicably, it was bookish but not too bookish, Hollywood but not too Hollywood.

Open City #26, which includes writing by Mohammed Naseehu Ali, Brad Gooch, Kirsty Gunn, John Fandel and more, is very literary, and not Hollywood-y at all.

— Carolyn Kellogg

Photo credit: Carolyn Kellogg