Exclusive: One Final Happy Ending for Amanda Stern


Last night we listened as A.M. Homes revealed that this Simon and Garfunkel song scared the crap of her as a kid; Nelly Reifler told an amazing short story that involved a woman drinking deer afterbirth; and Mary Gaitskill charmed the pants off a crowd with her sheer brilliance because that’s what Mary Gaitskill does. Then Rick Moody played a Johnny Cash cover with his band, the Wingdale Community Singers.

No, we didn’t eat too much cheese before falling asleep in the New York Times Best Sellers section at Barnes & Noble; we were at the final Happy Ending Music and Reading Series at their old massage parlor-turned-lounge digs. (They’re moving on up from the Lower East Side to Joe’s Pub starting January 7th.) If you’ve never been, it’s a cozy but buzzy event where a wide range of authors have taken bizarre risks, launched careers and even started a few fights.

(Listen to a clip from the evening featuring the Wingdale Community Singers courtesy of Radio Press here.)

After the jump founder Amanda Stern takes a break from crying over her all-grown-up literary baby to describe what it felt like to have her inaugural lineup of heavyweights return for one final Happy Ending.

“The past five years at Happy Ending have been amazing not simply because the performers were so damn good, but because often there were uncanny coincidences. Things always seemed to come full circle. Often I’d book people, not knowing that it was their birthday, or that it was their exact pub date or that they were secretly dying to meet the other person on the bill. The very first night in 2003, when I booked Nelly Reifler it turned out her official pub date was the same night as the series launch. Things seemed synchronous somehow in that space. So it made sense to me to really bring things full circle by having the very first performers read and play at the very last ending. And when I asked them, I found out that the final night of my series was Nelly Reifler’s birthday. That was the perfect ending, to me. On top of which, they contributed immensely to the success of the series and it’s to them I am most grateful. “