Readings don’t need to be boring. With some imaginative presentation, they can, in fact, be fun—more joy than chore, more story time than lecture.
The Furnace, Hollow Earth Radio’s new quarterly lit reading, which takes place during Morgan’s Martini hour from 6–7 p.m., debuted on Wednesday night at the station’s headquarters in the Central District. Organizer Corinne Manning launched the series as a new way to engage audiences while exposing them to new work. The recipe: one author, one complete piece of prose read, one hour or less.
Wednesday’s show featured Brooklyn Native and UW MFA grad Anca Szilágyi reading her short story “More like Home than Home,” a funny and cutting portrait of an Ashkenazi Jewish immigrant family living in New York in the 1980s. Ms. Szilagyi read aloud the story’s main narrative, while her co-reader, brassy-voiced Kristen Young, interjected the story’s footnotes, adding a theatrical and engaging layer to the show. They read—performed, actually—before a live audience in the studio, and to listeners tuning in at home via Hollow Earth’s online radio station.
By reimaging the typical multi-author reading, The Furnace allows the audience to fully experience the entirety of a piece and get comfortable with a story’s voice and narrative. Audience members seemed fully open to the concept—they filled Hollow Earth, sitting on chairs, a plump couch and cross-legged on the floor. Prior to the reading, chapbooks containing the story were sold for $2 apiece so audience members could follow along. The early time of night and fixed length seemed to make the night entertaining and enjoyable, a welcome midweek literary meditation.
The Furnace will return to Hollow Earth on Oct. 3 with playwright Buffy Aakash and his revised for radio play Last Night at Manuela’s.