This reading is an intriguing mess: James Frey and Josh Kilmer-Purcell are touring together, on new books and a certain amount of personal notoriety.
In 2006, Kilmer-Purcell wrote a memoir called I Am Not Myself These Days, a bestseller about what it's like to be a drag queen in love with a crack-addicted male prostitute (stressful, apparently). James Frey, meanwhile, wrote a novel disguised as a memoir, A Million Little Pieces, which everyone thought was brilliant until it was revealed that many events in the book were actually fictionalized, and then he got yelled at by Oprah, which has to be the worst feeling ever. Now both men have written novels, and both are here to convince you that they are real writers after all.
Unfortunately, Kilmer-Purcell's new book, Candy Everybody Wants, is terrible, awful, make-a-yucky-face-when-you-think-about-it bad. It's a Marc Acito knockoff, a less funny, less deft coming-of-age novel about a young gay man who just wants to act, complete with wacky plot twists and the requisite hat tip to AIDS (called "gay cancer" in Kilmer-Purcell's book, and handled incredibly poorly). Unless Kilmer-Purcell plans to appear on the Bagdad stage in full drag, complete with water-filled breasts in which live goldfish swim (for real: his drag name was Aqua)—unless he, in other words, manages to distract the audience from his clunky prose and unlikely, unlikeable characters—his reading is awfully hard to get excited about.
Frey is obviously the real star here tonight. Bright Shiny Morning just got a glowing review in the New York Times, written in an imitation of Frey's distinctive prose style:
"The million little pieces guy was called James Frey. He got a second act. He got another chance. Look what he did with it. He stepped up to the plate and hit one out of the park. No more lying, no more melodrama, still run-on sentences still funny punctuation but so what. He became a furiously good storyteller this time."
If you're willing to work through some of those post-Pieces feelings of betrayal, to forgive the guy both his exploitative memoir and his defensive posturing when his dishonesty was revealed, you might want to give the reading a shot—the cost of admission gets you a copy of the book.