The idea behind Stories and Beer is painfully simple: get a group of people together who like to drink beer and hear stories — then provide them with stories and with beer. In the past you've been able to access the fun, post facto, via the audio clips we've attached to our recaps, but this time, ladies and gents, we've stepped it up a notch (cue 2001:  a Space Odyssey soundtrack, NOW!): we have video!

Now continue reading so you can hear tall tales about major surgery, cannablism, guys who compare their love for their girlfriends to their love of their cars and a haphazard trip to the zoo...

 

And so you know: our next event will be on Tuesday May, 11 at the Iron Post.  Bring a friend or two.

Of course, technology has its downside — or shall I say, my ability to use technology effectively has its downside, and unfortunately Ben Matheson, our first reader of the evening, fell victim to my apparent inability to distinguish between the "delete" and the "save" option on my camera. Alas, all that remains of his inspired slam-style performance (an S&B first!) is this photograph. Guess you'll have to check him out next time he reads at Bolitini Lounge in Champaign.

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Next up was recent Illinois MFA grad Arley McNeney. Arley diverged from her usual historical fiction to share an essay she wrote on having her hip replaced. Now, if I ever have to write about having major surgery, I'm thinking it'll read something like: they dressed me up in a blue gown and then they gassed me and I don't remember anything after that, amen. But Arley — well, she stayed awake for the whole darn thing. You definintely want to check this out.

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Matt Minicucci is a poet, he is good at being a poet, he likes being a poet, and so when I asked him what he would be reading, I expected him to say, well, "a poem."  Instead he said, "a story." Shocking. He then quickly defended his infidelity by calling his story a poem with characters, and while I'm not sure if I completely agree with him on this, his is a story with an immistakable poetic intensity that is delivered through a kind of "movement without advancement."

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What is cannibalism? Is it the physical consumption of another human being or can it be the symbolic denial of something that is as much a part of you as your own flesh? Honestly, I'm not sure where Hanna's story comes down on this question which is why I love it so.

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Joe Meno finished off the night with, in Aaron's words, a killer reading of the first chapter from his novel The Great Perhaps released last year by W. W. Norton.  Now, I'd tell you that this saga begins as a normal trip to the zoo, takes a hilarious but poignant detour into some awkward father-daughter interactions and ends with a moving jolt that ultimately opens the novel from which its read, but if I did that, I would make Joe's kick-ass reading sound much less awesome than it actually was. If you are still reading this, stop and click the play button below.

 

Many thanks as always to the Urbana Arts Grant Program through whom all things are possible.