People of Letters

SXSW showcase reviews

(l-r) Neil Gaiman, John Sayles, Michaela McGuire, Buck 65, Kim Boekbinder, Emma Swift, Amanda Palmer, and Jenny Owens
(l-r) Neil Gaiman, John Sayles, Michaela McGuire, Buck 65, Kim Boekbinder, Emma Swift, Amanda Palmer, and Jenny Owens (by Gary Miller)

People of Letters

18th Floor Hilton Garden Inn, Tuesday, March 12

Australian literary salon People of Letters served as the intersection of literature and music at SXSW, with writers sharing letters based on the theme, "To the Thing I Wish I'd Written." Brooklyn-based Jenny Owen Youngs addressed Nirvana's Nevermind, effectively a künstlerroman of a young musician. "It was you who wrote me, at least the rough draft of my first act," she claimed before launching into a breathy, quivery rendition of "On a Plain." Author Neil Gaiman wrote to the genre of letters to the editor of softcore porn magazines in a tender and heartbreaking reminiscence of how they shaped his view of sex at age 15. Director and novelist John Sayles shared a scorching address to the national anthem, pointing out that the line "land of the free" was not even true on paper until after the Civil War, and is still not entirely true today. Finally, master asker Amanda Palmer shared a letter to her stepbrother she claimed to have written while drunk, but was so self-indulgent it was clearly not the spontaneous burst of heart-wrenching genius the audience was meant to believe. Palmer's performance was the disingenuous cherry on top of an otherwise authentic and deeply moving evening.

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw. Sign up for our South-by-specific newsletter at austinchronicle.com/newsletters/ for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest Tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

READ MORE
More Music Reviews
Gift Guide 2015: The Boxing Lesson
Hulaland: The Golden Age of Hawaiian Music
Hulaland: The Golden Age of Hawaiian Music (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Dec. 18, 2015

Tape Deck
Marie Davidson
Un Autre Voyage (Record Review)

Kevin Curtin, May 22, 2015

More by Melanie Haupt
Staying Healthy to Stay in School
Staying Healthy to Stay in School
National nonprofit Communities in Schools looks at the role of food in education

Sept. 22, 2017

Dripping Springs Keeps Growing, But Can the Dining Scene Keep Up?
Dripping Springs Keeps Growing, But Can the Dining Scene Keep Up?
Austin real estate pushes restaurateurs beyond city limits

June 9, 2017

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)