Opium Magazine has hosted "Literary Death Match" events in New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Beijing, Los Angeles, London, Seattle, Paris, and Raleigh. And tonight, after sampling the charms of Raleigh and Denver, the event finally comes to Portland. What it is:
Four authors "perform" their work—give 8-minute-or-less readings, with an emphasis on entertainment value and humor. Three judges critique the performances, humorously (but gently). Two writers advance to the finals, where, according to press materials, "the show's literary sensibility [is traded in] for an absurdly comical climax to decide the winner."
I like absurdly comical climaxes. Most readings are terrifically boring. It's rare in Portland to see readings organized around the premise of not being boring. The authors reading tonight each represent a Portland literary organization—Jeff Hardison's repping storytelling series Back Fence; Riley Michael Parker, publisher Future Tense Books; Kerry Cohen, Writer’s Dojo; and Arthur Bradford, Tin House. Having read Cohen's book, seen Parker and Bradford read, and gotten into a drunken argument with Hardison, I'm grudgingly putting my money on Hardison.
Judges are OPB's poet-in-residence Scott Poole, the Dandy Warhols' Zia McCabe, and mystery-writin' hotshot Chelsea Cain.
The Blue Monk, 3341 SE Belmont, $10, 8:30 pm, with an afterparty at 10 pm
Also tonight, at various Powell's locations:
At the Hawthorne store, Keith Stern outs gays through the ages in Queers in History.
At the downtown Powell's, Jennie Shortridge reads from When She Flew, "a new novel about faith, family, and finding the courage to do the right thing." (I think that description may have been generated by a computer program.)
And at the Beaverton store, Ethan Gilsdorf reads from Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks, "a new memoir about Monty Python, Dungeons and Dragons, and finding the courage to embrace your inner murloc." (Reviewed here by the Mercury's resident expert on all things nerdish, Erik Henriksen).