The wall-to-wall crowd at the one-year anniversary celebration of Market Garden Brewery’s monthly Brews + Prose reading series got a special treat last night: a reading from Pulitzer-Prize winning author and journalist Connie Schultz’s forthcoming novel (scheduled to be released fall 2014).
Schultz read a chapter focusing on a teenage girl growing up in a working class family during the late '60s in a fictional Ohio town while perched at a podium in front of an exposed brick fireplace in the basement of the Ohio City brewery.
One nugget that elicited a collective sigh from the crowd: “Allie looked at her daughter and saw God’s second thoughts.”
The reading was cut short when Schultz realized she lost the second-to-last page. But fellow writer and presenter Michael Ruhlman, along with a cheering audience and Schultz's husband U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, encouraged her to keep going. Schultz pressed on.The crowd of writers, beer drinkers and fans of spoken word received her reading with warm applause.
The free series brings writers out of the bookstore or library and into the brewery for lit readings that feel more relaxed, more genuine. Plus, organizers argue literature is better enjoyed while throwing back a few drinks.
“They’re here because they love the city, they’re here because they love literature and maybe because they love alcohol,” event co-founder Dave Lucas quipped about the crowd.
Jokes aside, the series has become a respected outlet for writers to connect with an audience that may not have come across their work in this way before. Two writers, essayists, journalists, playwrights, novelists or poets read every month. Past speakers include George Bilgere, Michael Heaton and Paula McLain.
“We believe Cleveland is a great place that deserves great literature and deserves a great venue for it,” Lucas said. He added that the series helps show the literary community that Cleveland supports them and can be as great a place for writing as big cities such as New York or Chicago.
Ruhlman agreed the series is an excellent way for the public to have access to prose.
“What a great venue ... the fireplace, the beer, the energy in the room ... it's just fabulous,” Ruhlman said. “We become so isolated by our lives behind our computers that community events like this really, really mean a lot."
Ruhlman read from both his digital works such as posts from his food blog, Ruhlman.com and one of his many traditional print books, Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America.
A snippet from one blog post, titled "The Fallacy of 'Follow Your Passion'" proved that Ruhlman, although known as a food writer, can write about more.
“Everyone has the capacity for passion built into them," he read. "It’s part of being human. You need to set yourself up to receive inspiration. Be ready to let inspiration flood into you.”
The series will continue next month on Aug. 6 with Akron author and journalist, David Giffels and author Alissa Nutting, whose steamy novel Tampa was just released Tuesday. Cleveland Magazine contributing writer Laura Taxel, will speak in October.
Schultz is a frequent contributor to Cleveland Magazine. Most recently, she's written essays on changes to GED testing, threats to Ohio's unions and revising our city's story.