Amtrak’s Hudson bound train trumpeted rhythmically over Will Oldham’s deep-woods voice, seeming a part of the performance. The visual, musical and aural presentation of Rudy Wurlitzer’s 1984 novel “Slow Fade” had all the right stuff to spellbind the crowded audience at Basilica Hudson. The event showcased the release of Wurlitzer’s audio book version of “Slow Fade,” narrated by Will Oldham (Palace Brothers, Bonnie Prince Billy) and his good friend D.V. DeVincentis.
The 45-minute spasmodic reading was tag teamed between Wurlitzer and Oldham while guitarist Ben Chasny (of Six Organs of Admittance) gently strummed chords relevant to the setting at hand. The audience was brought to Mexico, India, back to the familiar land of New York and then to Canada with the help of photographer Lynn Davis’ colorful and moody slideshow.
The audience was told that Wurlitzer had been trying all week to find someone else to read in his place, and Wurlitzer’s reading was tired and detached. It was if he was reading a shameful confession from a different lifetime – one of sex, drugs and movies – that he is tired of remembering and yet glad enough to recall. Wurlitzer’s audio-book tour appears to be his last hurrah in the literary business. This rang clear during the post-show Q&A, when Wurlitzer said that he didn’t think that he’d ever write again. This left the audience with the last spoken line of the evening solemnly reverberating in their heads, “and finally he realized that he was alone.”
Yet, the Basilica Hudson itself was a majestic setting for the event and a beautiful symbol for Rudy Wurlitzer, bringing feelings of both renewed life and hard-earned experience.
Review and photographs by Daniel J. Hotter
The Anthology Film Archives in NYC is presenting a week-long festival of Rudy Wurlitzer’s work as a screenwriter. Titled “Drop Edges of Yonder: The Films of Rudy Wurlitzer,” the fest runs from today through Thursday, May 5, screening five feature films, as well as collection of three of his short films.
In conjunction with the screening of “Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid” at 7:30pm tonight, Wurlitzer will appear along with Will Oldham for a reading and conversation to mark the release of Oldham’s recent audio book version of “Slow Fade” on the Drag City label. They’ll by accompanied by the music of guitarist Ben Chasny (of Six Organs of Admittance) and the projected photographs of Lynn Davis.
And following the 8pm screening of “Glen & Randa” at 8pm on Saturday, there will be a discussion with Wurlitzer and friend and colleague Robert Downey, Sr.
Here’s the complete schedule of screenings at Anthology Film Archives in NYC:
“Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid”: 7:30pm Friday; 4:30pm Sunday; 9pm Wednesday
“Two-Lane Blacktop”: 5:30pm Saturday; 7pm Monday
“Glen & Randa”: 8pm Saturday; 9:15pm Monday; 7pm Wednesday
“Keep Busy” / “Energy and How to Get It” / “Birth of the Flag, Parts I & II”: 7pm Sunday; 7pm Thursday
“Walker”: 9:15pm Sunday, 7pm Tuesday
“Candy Mountain”: 9pm Tuesday; 9:15pm Thursday