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Reading in Public

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On Saturday, May 15 Mignon Khargie and Catherine Trujillo staged their fourth Reading in Public event, called Typing in Public.  For months before the event contributors sent in opening lines from writers, lovers of literature, and even creators of language (Paul Frommer, creator of the Na’vi language). Author George Oates submitted the following: “I always case the exits.”

On May 15, between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. they placed typewriters at Linnaea’s, BlackHorse, Sally Loo’s Café, the Steynberg Gallery, The Sanitarium, and the San Luis Obispo Public Library. The typing table was also stocked with a sheaf of clean white paper and signs inviting passersby to sit and type. Some sat at the typewriter as though they were greeting an old friend, while other—often younger—typists had never used a typewriter before.

At 2 p.m. Khargie and Trujillo collected the hundreds of entries—some stained with coffee, most riddled with errors—to prepare for a reading at Sally Loo’s Café, between 6 and 8 p.m. What followed was an evening of revelry, literature, incredible coffee, and music. Ten-year-old musicians Anna Novotny and Ezra Henderson performed, with guitar support from Ezra’s mom, Deborah Kirk. Vincent Bernardy energetically sang, and entertained. And The Booker Tease (a quartet) finished off the evening with two—wait just one more!—three—let’s have another one—songs, until the final count was somewhere between four and six.

But the true star of the evening was words, spoken and typed, by people who make a career out of shaping them, or people who interact with them only in speaking, or those who make a hobby of reading them.

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