On Friday, One Story hosted our first benefit, The One Story Literary Debutante Ball: A Celebration of Emerging Writers. And celebrate, we did. We hosted a silent auction, showcasing original art that had been created from issues of One Story. Beside each piece was an excerpt from the story, as well as an artist’s statement, explaining how the words had moved them. We had everything from video art by Josh Pelzek, inspired by One Story issue #29, “Dreaming of You” by Matthew Purdy, to a piece of jewelry by Michelle Fantaci, inspired by One Story issue #73, “What is Alaska Like?” by Anna Solomon, to a guerilla theater perfomance, produced by Wingspace Theatrical Design, and inspired by One Story issue #97, Sam Allingham’s “Bar Joke, Arizona.” But my favorite part of the night was the presentation of the debutantes. Nine writers who published their first fiction in One Story flew in to Brooklyn from around the country, and made a grand entrance through a giant warehouse door, on the arms of established writers who have been mentors to them over the years. Comedian, actor, & One Story author John Hodgman did the formal introductions, reading the debutante bios and letting the cheering crowd know how far each of these authors has come since appearing in One Story. And finally, our publisher Maribeth Batcha gave a speech, where she said:
“We choose our stories because they bring about an emotional response, because they make us think, cry, laugh, or wonder. We hope they will take you out of you own life for a brief time and pull you into unexpected worlds. We believe that as readers, we come out on the other side of a great short story knowing a bit more about the world than we went in. And we think this knowledge is important.”
More than 400 people came out to celebrate short stories and the writers who write them. One Story couldn’t have put this event together without Nathan Elbogen, the curator of The Old American Factory, our sponsors, our benefit committee, our board, our readers and everyone who attended the ball and bid on the artwork, as well as our managing editor Tanya Rey and the rest of the One Story staff, volunteers, and family members who all chipped and made it a huge success. We’ll be posting pictures and videos of the party soon. But for now, Maribeth and I would like to extend our great thanks to all of our supporters, as well as our writers, who have made One Story what it is today. Please stand up folks, and take a bow.