By Tom Reardon
If you love an evening of good stories, we hope the monthly live storytelling series, Bar Flies, is on your radar. If not, or if you want to bask in some memories, the Bar Flies book, True Stories from the Early Years comes out on December 17, 2019, at Bar Flies’ Eating Christmas Holiday Special.
The book features sixty (mostly) local authors and the true stories they shared with Phoenix audiences sometime between June of 2015 and the present at Bar Flies live events.
The brainchild of local writers Katie Bravo and Amy Silverman, Bar Flies happens once a month (except in July) and pairs local writers, musicians, artists, and anyone with a good tale to tell for a night of scripted stories that have a loose theme tying them together. Each author takes the theme to heart and creates a 1500 word (give or take) true story that they read to audiences at places like Valley Bar, Crescent Ballroom, and the December 17 event will be held at The Van Buren.
Over the five years Bar Flies has been around a number of stories have stuck out to Bravo and Silverman and earlier in 2019, the two spoke to their “patron saint,” according to Bravo, Charlie Levy of Stateside Presents, about putting out an anthology of Bar Flies writers from the first half-decade. Titled Bar Flies: True Stories From The Early Years, the collection is something of a labor of love for Bravo and Silverman.
“Amy and I combed through and picked some of our favorites. We have sixty different authors, sixty different stories. We have covered almost every topic you can think of,” says Bravo who is a freelance copywriter who met Silverman while working at the Phoenix New Times.
Dedicated to Phoenix, the book starts off with what could probably be Bar Flies truncated mission statement: “TRUE STORIES. AND DRINKS” before launching into stories about love in its first section. Arizonan turned Oregonian author Laurie Notaro’s “KISSSSSSSSSSS ME” is just one of the highly entertaining stories featured here. The stories are just long enough to draw you in, but short enough to absorb one or two on break, during a meal, or whenever you have a few minutes of downtime.
“We all have things in our lives. I have a toddler and I kind of love books with short stories or essays because sometimes I only have a couple of minutes,” says Bravo.
With no end to Bar Flies in sight, it is possible there will be more volumes of the books down the road, but there is nothing imminent in the works just yet.
“We are not sure what the future holds, but we do want to keep the possibility out there to do another one. It is Bar Flies: True Stories From The Early Years. At five years, it seemed like the perfect time. Charlie (Levy) put the idea out there and we went with it. He’s been so supportive,” says Bravo.
The upcoming December 17th Bar Flies “Eating Christmas” event at The Van Buren (which Levy is a partner in) is also a true release party as the book will be made available to the public for the first time. Tickets to the event are $20, but each admission price does include a copy of Bar Flies, as well, so it is truly a great deal, especially during the holidays if you have readers in your life and you’re looking for a perfect gift. Many of the 60 authors will be at the event and 14 storytellers will be doing readings of new, 500(ish) word pieces during the evening as well.
The December edition of Bar Flies always features stories about food, the holidays, and the hijinks that typically ensue in this time of year. There are eight stories included in the anthology from Eating Christmas shows between 2015 and 2018 and one is even from Echo’s own, Amy Young. There is also one from Silverman, as well, entitled “There’s No Such Thing As A Christmas Brisket” that will get you right in the feelers.
In addition to the reading, there’s also hosting a print-based product pop-up market.
“It’s called Paper Mart. Fly Paper (the company owned by Silverman, Bravo, and Deborah Sussman) is all about storytelling and literary things. Our first Paper Mart is going to be all paper goods,” says Bravo. Bravo and Silverman do writing workshops under the Fly Paper business moniker throughout the year at Changing Hands bookstore in Phoenix including workshops for teenagers. For more information, check out their site.
Bar Flies’ Eating Christmas event and holiday vendor market starts at 6 p.m. on December 17 at The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street, in Phoenix. Admission is $20 and includes a copy of the book. Tickets are available here.