Dropping In
October 10, 2002

Full Earfull

by Jim Sullivan

"If we're not a little rowdy, we might as well be in a bookstore," said writer-musician Jen Trynin, introducing Earfull 3, the first author reading-and-music event of the season at the Kendall Cafe in Cambridge Tuesday night. Bit of a joke there. Trynin - a copromoter along with her husband Mike Denneen of Q Division Studios and Tim Huggins of Newtonville Books - has merged live music and author readings in this series at the intimate club. The notion, she added, was "to smart-up the rock 'n' roll crowd and cool-up the book crowd."

The joint was packed and steamy by 8:30. As it happened, we dined earlier with the charming New York-born and Iowa-based writer Thisbe Nissen, who was first up, reading a short story "Out of the Girls Room and Into the Night." The author of the recent novel "The Good People of New York" dined on veggies, sipped beer and nearly plopped coleslaw down her cleavage. Sussing out the club ambience, she sighed, "I wish I had something sexier to read."

No worry - her story was sexy, funny, and a little creepy, as it involved a high school chemistry teacher and his obsession with a sweet young thing. Singer-guitarist Christian McNeill, of the band HyBrasil, followed with an acoustic set, and gave way to the evening's main attraction, Dennis Lehane, the Boston author of "Mystic River."

Lehane chose an unpublished short story he'd just completed, "Until Gwen." He scored a touchdown. Written in the second person, the story revolved around a father-son criminal combo, the son having just been released from prison after hiding a huge heisted diamond somewhere he just couldn't seem to recall. The father, a scam artist by trade, nobly procures a hooker and cocaine for the son's release party - this does not work out so well.

Twinemen - featuring ex-Morphine guys Billy Conway and Dana Colley and ex-Face to Face singer Laurie Sargent - followed with a smoky, sultry and little spooky set of music. The band made its debut at one of last year's Earfulls.

Lehane hosts this Tuesday's Earfull. Reading are Jennifers, Egan and Belle. Playing music is the band Hem and Aaron Lippert from Godboxer. Four consecutive Tuesday night Earfull gigs follow.

Tip to fans: The only guarantee you'll get in - to say nothing of getting a seat - is to book a table for 8 p.m. and buy dinner. And, trust us, the dinner complements the evening very nicely.

© Copyright 2002 The Boston Globe