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Sunday Salon
Straight from NYC, Chicago's latest reading series takes off.
Monday May 22, 2006.     By Jessica Herman
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

A reader from the Sunday Salon series.
Basic stats: Located at Bucktown's Charleston Bar, the series showcases emerging and established writers.

Incorporated: March 26, 2006

Web site:

Fringe benefits: It's free entertainment. Plus, published authors frequently bring their books to sell after the reading, so if you like what you've heard, you can buy yourself instant gratification.

When: Last Sunday of every month from 7:30-9 p.m.

Up next: May 28 the salon hosts Ron Shavers, Michael Moreci, Abigail Greenbaum and a fourth yet-to-be-decided reader.

After graduating from NYC's New School Creative Writing program in 2002, a group of fresh-faced MFAs eager to stay connected to a writing community launched the now-thriving Sunday Salon Series in the Big Apple. Three years later, when fellow grad Melanie Pappadis packed her bags for Chicago, there was one thing she didn't want to leave behind: the reading series. Teaming up with "MAKE: A Chicago Literary magazine" co-founder/publisher and fiction editor, Mike Zapata, she kicked out the first branch of the salon series.

Just two months old, the new-born series hasn't had time to develop its own identity in the literary community as anything other than another space for fiction writers and readers to share work, thoughts, oxygen and a few rounds of beer. And that ain't half bad. Centerstage recently had an all-business phone chat with Pappadis.

How did Sunday Salon Chicago get started?
When I moved back to Chicago from New York, I was looking for the fiction writing community. I thought that bringing Sunday Salon to Chicago would be a good way to help build that community and get fiction writers out once a month. It was doing really well in New York, and I thought it would be great for other writers [in Chicago].

Was it a successful debut?
We had a good crowd. One of the hosts from the New York series, Caroline Berger, came and read at it. We had Gina Frangello and Melissa Fraterrigo read from their novels, and my co-host, Mike Zapata read some short stories.

What ties this reading series together with Sunday Salon New York other than the same name?
Well, we share the same website. After I brought the idea to the women who started it, we thought it would be fun to grow it even bigger if other people who graduated from the New School moved further west. We thought it would be a fun thing to, to grow it as much as possible. We sometimes share readers, too. Caroline just referred one of their writers who read at the salon [in New York] to me, and I asked him to read in Chicago.

What are you looking for in your readers, and how do you select them?
We're really open to a mix of styles; we're not looking for one style of writing. There's a submission process where they can send something to the website. Or we'll get recommendations from people we know. A couple publicists from small presses will send new writers to us also. We're not looking for a certain style, just good writing. Prose and poetry?
Just prose.

Why the Charleston?
I thought it was a great bar. I liked the cozy feel to it and it seems like an intimate space, a nice place to listen to a reading. It wasn't intimidating in any way. There's not too much of a scene there, and it draws a nice mix of people.

Who's the audience?
We always have a few regulars at the bar who seem to really enjoy it. So we're really bringing it into the community. Writers come to hear other writers read. It's been a mix so far.

I saw that Sunday Salon made a radio debut in New York back in December 2005. Do you have plans to do the same in Chicago?
We'd love to if someone asked us to.

Who can Chicagoans look forward to seeing in the next few months?
We have a new author from Gray World Press coming through in September. His name is David Treuer. In July we have a reading curated by Other Voices Magazine. Gina Frangello is curating that one.