Ben Parzybok

situation ambiguous

my first reading in public nightmare

Fortunately I had a nightmare in the traditional sense — not ‘my reading was a nightmare’-sense. 

I dreamt that I was reading at Powell’s Books – but there was a bar there – to my left from the podium – and a band too, apparently in case I wasn’t quite entertaining enough. I stood at the center of all of that, with about a hundred people in front of me (go brain!). All of them were talking, and seemingly my book had been printed in messy, overly-corrected ballpoint pen on wet toilet paper. I held a mush of it there in my hand and tried to separate out a few consecutive sheets in order to try to piece together a story-line, any story at all. I tried a few times, starting off with gusto on some sentence that ended in a messy blurred blotch. Then I would start all over again.

This was a real enough dream that at some point my dream brain had obviously had enough and to said to hell with it, bailing me out into wakefulness, and I sat there in that departing dream state, heart palpitating, trying to figure out if maybe I could try to just improvise a little of the book? Did I know any songs I could sing? Would someone bring me a beer at least?

I was incredibly relieved to remember that I will be reading from a real book, with a binding! not printed on toilet paper!

I did a quick search on reading nightmares to see if this was, you know, some sort of common pre-book-release epidemic that all first-time authors experienced and came up with the poet Matthew Guenette’s reading nightmare. My favorite part: Instead of his book being switched out for a mush of toilet paper, he held in his hand ‘a set of visual “instructions” for how to change a muffler’.

Brains. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

Author: Benjamin Parzybok

My name is Ben Parzybok and I'm a novelist and programmer living in Portland, OR. @sparkwatson



  1. You were probably there, heckling.
    When I have it again I’m going to ask you to buy me a beer!

  2. i wasn’t heckling! i was playing clarinet in the band. everytime you started to read your wet toilet paper and heard that annoying chirping squeak…..
    that was me!

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