The weekend was a fairly busy one, with two birthday parties and my semimonthly volunteer shift at MoMA. We celebrated my friend Michael’s 30th birthday at a karaoke bar in Chinatown (much 80s cheesiness was enjoyed, naturally), then followed up with a party for Will’s friend Beatrice at her home in Park Slope (insanely sugary Romanian pastries enjoyed at that one). I also fried my brain with another marathon session of a freelance project that I had characteristically put off until the last minute.

Tonight I attended my first meeting of a book club over at McNally Robinson Booksellers in SoHo, which turned out to be a much more stimulating and fun group than the first one I joined when I moved to New York two years ago, probably because almost everyone there was in publishing (and we’re the best and most interesting lot out there, of course). The book under review was By Night in Chile by Roberto Bolaño; it’s a surreal, stream-of-consciousness novella in the form of a deathbed confession by a priest and literary critic who was a tragically impotent puppet of the Pinochet regime. There was a spirited discussion of the role and responsibility of artists, the media, and the clergy in the face of oppression and corruption. We didn’t really reach a consensus, but there were a lot of interesting viewpoints. It was nice to be among people who really put some thought into their opinions beyond “I didn’t get/like it.” Next month’s book, continuing our Latin American theme, I guess, is The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares. Judging by the first 30 pages or so, which I read on the train this evening, it’s even more hallucinatory and disaffected. Apparently, there’s also something in there about an obsession with Louise Brooks. Interesting.