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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Seeing Story as Read by the Author

On Thursday the poet, and (now) novelist, Lucien Zell, read from his newly published novel “Invisible Bars” at Shakespeare & Sons in Prague.

To hear an author read his work is an experience none of us should go without for very long. And by this I encourage people (readers! … and writers) to habituate author readings wherever they happen; but especially at book launches, such as was the case for Lucien.

“Invisible Bars” is a novel connected by the visitation of bars — places one finds a libation and, by extension, others who drink, mix drinks, and embrace the people to whom they find such kinship — that are real or, wholly imagined by the author. One isn’t quite sure, unless you’ve been to said bar, or know of its existence.

Zell writes with life and the effervescence of language to make these stories boldly engaging and entertaining. His characters speak the language of bar denizens, but also people of the world who understand (and can recite) Basho, bar guides, Jazz greats, and bouncer tales.

With Zell in the room, you have the assurance of theater. His sense of audience, honed in bars as a musician and parlors across Europe with his poetry, makes you take notice of what’s at stake on the “stage.” On that stage Thursday to accompany Zell was a New Zealand cellist just come to Prague a few days ago; and a saxophonist Zell had met just a few hours before in a park. They played individually as counter-point to the author’s reading and recitation, audience play and theater.

After the reading, the book signing took place amid chatter and roaming and much love for the reading, reader, and literature.

All was a good night for literature, ideas, and art.

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