How Quiet Lightning Struck San Francisco

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I felt the bios and intros depleted the magic. Each sequence of words is a spell, and when you follow one spell with another spell, they compound, building off the energy of the previous spell. It reinforces the inherent value of language.

Over at the Los Angeles Review of Books, Evan Karp, San Francisco literary mainstay, explains the philosophy behind Quiet Lightning, the series of readings where works are selected blind and presented without introductions. The events have deeply resonated in the Bay Area’s literary community, and provided a platform for writers with little exposure to directly share with their audience. As Peter Bullen writes, “Even the name, ‘Quiet Lightning,’ was Evan’s attempt to describe the moment between a reader finishing up and applause erupting from the crowd, in much the same way that mystical texts refer to the pause between inhaling and exhaling.’”


You can find Charley Locke's journalism on WIRED, tweets @CHARLEY_LOCKE, and drawings on her parents' fridge. You can also sometimes spot Charley imperiously making book recommendations while managing the McSweeney's Pop-Up Shops. More from this author →