The Happy Ending Music & Reading Series recently began its new season on an unsettling but vivid note: a program of tales about fateful accidents.
Given the theme of the series, it seemed almost fitting that one of the authors reading, Kristin Hersh, a rock musician who has just published her first book, "Rat Girl," was taken ill at the last minute. However, her stand-in, sister musician Syd Straw, more than made up the gap with a dark reading of Hersh's book, which was punctuated with asides. "Rat Girl" is part musing and part memoir. It begins with its heroine being hit by a car. Next, Darin Strauss read from "Half a Life," another memoir beginning with a fatal crash—he commented on the eerie coincidence that both he and Straw were reading books starting with crashes. In contrast, novelist Matthew Sharpe gave the audience an out-of-body experience while reading from his new novel, "You Were Wrong." He pretended to be someone else standing in for himself.
Happy Ending's musical guest was violist Anni Rossi. She played "Crushing Limbs" after being introduced by the Happy Ending series host and curator Amanda Stern.
Kristin Hersh, author of "Rat Girl": "It was a witch that gave me the double concussion that started me hearing songs in the first place."
Syd Straw on Hersh's "Rat Girl": "I'm only just finding out all that's happened to her. I'm going to have to be even nicer to her."
Darin Strauss, author of "Half a Life": "This moment has been all my life a kind of shadowy giant...It's a true story, unfortunately."