Artist: Poe and Mark Danielewski
Date: November 3, 2000
Review by By Katherine
Just a few thoughts about the Borders tour, specifically the day at the Borders in NYC. 11.3.00, I think. Wow, that was yesterday! This city is bad for any already poorly functioning short term memory.
The area set aside in the store was packed to capacity with people sitting on the floor in the back, and any space available in the aisles was taken by standees maneuvering in any way possible to get a glimpse of Poe and Mark. It was a fantastic set up – Poe and Mark sat facing the crowd, sitting behind two mics, while a DJ stood behind them with turntables and a live mixer was off to their right.
The whole thing was set up such that Mark would read a portion from the book or talk about it and Poe would relate it to her songs and occasionally sing the song that related. Both Mark and Poe apparently came across tapes of their father, Tad Danielewski, talking that set off some memories. They show up as the samples in the segues on Poe’s album. During the entire talk, the DJ or mixer ( I’m not sure who was setting them off ) cued a pertinent sample, or ingeniously used them to make a quick joke. There was, by the way, a projection screen with alternate album art that related to each song/section.
The first highlight of the show came when Poe sang “Spanish Doll,” which is an absolutely lovely song musically and lyrically. The DJ scratched up a storm on the fade out on what I believe was this track, but maybe it was another. In any case, he was brilliant. The main highlight of the show was Mark’s reading from “The Whalestoe Letters” – the letters Johnny Truant’s mother sends him in _House of Leaves_. He read what sounded like the last one after dedicating it to the mother of a friend of his and speaking a bit about how it related to his mother. Poe also spoke about the absence of their mother from their lives, and how the letter showed that love can be demonstrated very “powerfully” despite the lack of a physical presence. Anyone who’s read the book knows that the letters are compelling proof of that fact, regardless of the fact that they’re fictional. Both brother and sister were very moved, as was, I feel, the entire audience. It was an incredible moment.
Afterwards, they both signed Poe’s new album, “Haunted” and Mark’s “House of Leaves”. This probably should’ve gone at the beginning: Mark’s novel is ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT. I heard about it through word of mouth and only later realized Mark to be Poe’s brother. It’s seems a hefty book, but I sat down and *could not* stop reading it – I was about to move to college and almost gave up seeing my friends before I left because the book consumed my mind’s focus so greatly. I won’t give away details of the book, but through a very ingenious, beautiful metaphor, Mark explores relationships and the dynamics of a family and their home. “Haunted” is a concept album that explores the same ideas on a very personal level for Poe and relates back often to the metaphor within the book. Poe drew a lot on my CD and Mark drew me a tree.
They’re fantastic people, inspired artists, and it’s a great privilege to read and listen to their work.