A Literary Blog with a Twist
by Emily Jaeger, Features Editor
The bantering banner of Bill and Dave’s Cocktail Hour is the perfect introduction to the general vibe of this web-blog that combines literary arts, politics, cartoons and more: quirky but crucial, conversational but intellectual.
The founders, best-selling and award-winning authors Bill Roorbach (The Girl of the Lake, Life Among Giants) and Dave Gessner (All the Wild that Remains, The Tarball Chronicles) modeled the site after a talk show. Roorbach recalls, “Dave and I were at a restaurant with a bunch of writers and other celebrants, both of us holding forth…lots of laughter; when someone said, ‘You guys should have a radio show!’” In the end, Roorbach and Gessner created a website instead, mixing their literary expertise with eclectic interests and keeping humor at the centerfold.
In lieu of radio banter and visitors, Roorbach and Gessner write alternating posts and invite a variety of guest bloggers to weigh in as well: “The goal is readers, as many as we can have at the party….To that end, we invite a lot of guest writers, and include reviews of lots of books we love, also interviews, mostly with writers.”
The format of the site is simple but inviting: warm colors, lots of original cartoons, and a sidebar of feature categories and bookmarked websites. Feature categories cover everything from original prose to “Don’t Talk About Politics.” Viewers can subscribe via an RSS feed or explore the site at their leisure.
The tongue-in-cheek series, “Bad Advice (For Writers, Readers, and Everyone Else)” is especially pertinent for a literary audience. Featuring writing prompts, book recommendations, and solid publishing advice (such as how to negotiate copyright clauses in book contracts), this series reinforces a communal approach to the writing process.
At this cyber-cocktail hour, Roorbach, Gessner and literary guests candidly discuss their woes and successes. They leave readers with a bank of writing experiences to add to their own, such as Gessner’s discussion of post-project depression:
So for weeks, months, maybe years you have been pushing toward the end of the book you are writing….Not a few times each day you fantasize about being done. What could be better? It sounds like heaven. And this morning, miracle of miracle, you have finally finished. You’re done! Maybe you will drink some champagne and tell some people and try to make an occasion of it. But maybe you also feel, instead of elation, a kind of depression setting in. Immediately. What the hell is this?”—Dave Gessner
Visit Bill and Dave’s Cocktail Hour for the political cartoons or an interview with your favorite author. Either way, what you will take away is Roorbach and Gessner’s commitment to and passion for genuine, holistic writing: “One promise we made ourselves was never to take advertising, never to try to be clickbait, but to really be ourselves while saying important things, funny things, stupid things, exciting things.”
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