If you’ve read his newspaper stories, laughed at his radio plays, seen him in action as the genial major domo of The Palladium or in his anecdote-laced cabaret performances, you know Paul Wilborn is a born storyteller. Now he’s turned his stories into, well, stories.
Drawing on his own experiences as a young reporter in the glory days of boho Ybor, his debut short story collection, Cigar City: Tales from a 1980s Creative Ghetto, is rich in lived detail, with acutely observed depictions of the artists, reprobates and other unforgettable characters he met in those days, and vivid evocations of the sights, sounds and smells of Ybor days and nights. Affectionate but not sentimental and often laugh-out-loud funny, Wilborn’s stories capture the romance and the hard truths of a world we won’t likely see again.
Paul has been doing readings of his first book in many venues over the last several weeks, often to standing-room-only crowds, and tonight’s setting might be the most apt of all. He’ll be appearing at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg in tandem with its exhibit of works by one of the chief architects of the “creative ghetto” Wilborn writes about — the painter, printmaker and partier Theo Wujcik.
And for even more inside intel on the milieus Paul writes about and his own fascinatingly varied career, tune in to duPont Registry’s Facebook Live broadcast on Tuesday, May 28, at 1 p.m., when Paul will be my guest on dRTB Live!
Paul Wilborn Reading from Cigar City: Tales from a 1980s Creative Ghetto, Thurs., 5/23, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Museum of Fine Arts, 255 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg. Event free with museum admission. Books will be available for purchase. You can also find them at Haslam’s, Tombolo and Amazon, or buy direct from the publisher at stpetersburgpress.com. And if you miss this reading, Paul will be at Oxford Exchange in Tampa on June 13 at 6:30 p.m.