This past Thursday on June 18th, I attended the Dock Street Salon at Phinney Books, whose manager was kind enough to partner with Dock Street Press and host a reading by Ross McMeekin, co-founder of Spartan Journal, and Heather Jacobs, our very own managing editor.
Phinney Books was a great hideout from the blustery, cold winds of the evening. Even better were the stories that I heard that evening in the back of the bookstore.
The first person up to read was Ross McMeekin. He began reading excerpts from three short stories that focused on the dynamics between family members, especially when hardships threaten the balance and connection between intimate individuals. I listened to a story about the guilt and pain of a father who struggles to accept his new-born daughter’s blindness, a story about a newly-made widower and the left-over memories of his deceased wife in the form of animal balloons, and a story about the gradual loss of faith between two lovers.
After the readings, I spoke to Mr. McMeekin about the stories that he wrote, curious as to why they were so family-centric. I discovered that he is himself a family man, greatly influenced by his own family. However, although he is greatly influenced by the importance of family, his writing explores other themes, such as human beings’ relationship with nature and themselves. This interest in the introspective nature of human beings revealed itself in his narratives, the way his stories explored the emotions and mental processes of his characters.
The second reader of the evening was our own Heather Jacobs, who read a chapter from her novel in progress. She told a story from the perspective of the overseer of a fruit harvesting camp. If Mr. McMeekin’s stories explored the interior lives of his characters, Ms. Jacob’s narrator looked outward and reflected on the tangibility of the outdoors and the movements of the overseer and other characters. I was absorbed by her beautiful prose and the enchanting imagery of the Californian landscape.
Both writers provided lovely excerpts that explored a range of stylistic writing, from short stories to the novel form. It seems as though events like readings make reading an experience of community and sharing. They pull story-lovers together as a community that partakes in the experience of imaginative immersion and they remind us of how communion can be found in the solitariness that is often the reading experience.
For more information about Ross McMeekin, please visit his website at: http://www.rossmcmeekin.com/