A poet and a comedian walk into a bookstore

Local writers join forces during staged reading

Jason Petorak // The Torch
Tim Shaner reads a script alongside local entertainer Ty Connor at Tsunami Books to a crowd of roughly 30 people. The script, written by Shaner, is a fusion of comedic anecdotes from his first novel “I Hate Fiction” and Connor’s memoir “Seriously?”

On May 17, at Tsunami Books, audience members erupted in both applause and laughter during a script reading that entwined the literary works of Eugenians, Tim Shaner and Ty Connor. The script, prepared by Shaner, an English instructor at Lane Community College, combined a humorous brew of alternating excerpts promoting his new book, “I Hate Fiction” and lines from Connor’s memoir and novel, “Seriously?”

Scott Landfield, owner of Tsunami Books for the past 22 years, has known Connor since the bartender, musician and writer was in his 20s. In 2012, Connor received recognition of “Best Bartender in Town” from the Eugene Weekly. “Seriously?” includes quirky stories and humorous anecdotes based on Connor’s life.

Shaner did not initially intend for “I Hate Fiction” to become a complete novel. He started writing the book as a way to combat writer’s block while struggling to complete his dissertation.

“I figured, somewhat jokingly,” he said, “that if I couldn’t, in the end, complete my dissertation, I’d at least have this novel.”

According to Shaner, his book occasionally “reads as a series of disconnected tweets” due to the different narrative threads. These individual stories unfold as the novel progresses, “much like stepping back from a pointillist painting, wherein, initially blurry, the image gradually comes into view.”

Shaner has also been involved with Tsunami Books before and has known Landfield for about 10 years. Shaner has participated in several of the bookstore’s poetry slams, which involve competitive spoken word performances.  

When asked what he thought of the audience’s enthusiastic response, Shaner said, “I was quite pleased. It’s so important to have a good audience. Like teaching, students make (or break) the class and attentive, engaged audiences do the same when it comes to readings and performances in general.”