Miss Manhattan Non-Fiction Reading Series

By Andrew Andrews

Elyssa Maxx Goodman hosts the crowded Miss Manhattan Reading Series in the small back room at Niagara in Alphabet City.

We’re big fans of do-ocracy; when we wanted people to have more confidence that going out to a show would be worth the time, money and effort, we created Opplaud.com. When Elyssa Maxx Goodman wanted non-fiction writers to have a louder voice in the New York City literary scene, she created The Miss Manhattan Non-Fiction Reading Series and invited audiences to attend every month for free. And when she wanted single people to feel a little less lonely during the month where everyone seems intent on pairing up, she dubbed the February edition Getting Fresh, featuring stories that focus more casually on sex and dating than love and marriage. Be the change, as Gandhi said!

We arrived to the crowded back room at Niagara Bar just in time to snag two of the last available seats. A few minutes later, Elyssa read her own story (to spare the guest authors the stress of going first!) about a date at The Mark Bar that exceeded expectations, starting the show on an upbeat note. The mood changed, however, when Natalie Zhou read an account of being in a relationship full of nondisclosure with someone who would never be enough. Next, Naomi Extra pronounced her love for the movie Love Jones, urging everyone who’s never seen it to experience the best cinematic black sex ever, recalling the time that she exposed her skeptical boyfriend to its magic.

After a brief intermission, Moshe Schulman shared the time he lost his virginity to the first fully-naked girl he’d ever seen in-person (and a shikse to boot!) and “couldn’t stop thinking about diseases, babies and death." Larissa Pham then spoke about a very different kind of obsession (and the difference between obsession and love) in her story Punch Drunk. Last to the stage was Michele Filgate with her loving memoirs of a dog named Birdie.

This was not our first time attending Miss Manhattan’s Reading Series, and tonight’s episode—like all that we’ve caught before—was full of top-notch writing, with some stories of course being more engaging than others. If there was a People’s Choice award for tonight, however, it would have to go to Amy Deneson and her story The Demon Kiss, about her first real kiss as an early pubescent, received from her brother’s best friend while in line for her first real roller coaster ride. Full of adolescent tension that filled the audience with laughs and smiles, Deneson made us feel like we were in the queue behind her, watching the drama unfold.

There’s only one thing missing from the Miss Manhattan Reading Series: a microphone! From the turned-down-but-never-off music to the loud conversations at the bar to the off-and-on climate-control, it’s sometimes difficult to hear the speakers at this venue—especially when their writing fingers are stronger than their vocal cords. But even if listening can be a bit of a strain at times, it’s worth the effort to experience these intimate moments with Goodman’s rotation of storytellers, so don’t miss her next installment on March 6th across the street from Tompkins Square Park! 3

Andrew Andrews attended Miss Manhattan Non-Fiction Reading Series at Niagara in Manhattan on Monday, February 6, 2017 @ 7:45pm to write this review.