Sunday, April 18, 2010

Get Lit on Get Lit Saturday and Get Lit Sunday

Posted on Sun, Apr 18, 2010 at 10:20 AM

Jet back to when punk was new in L.A.  Novelist Janet Fitch will take you there tonight at 7 pm at the Bing. Fitch, who teaches at USC, will discuss Paint It Black and take questions. In her long-awaited follow-up to her Oprah pick, White Oleander, Fitch gives voice to Josie, whose brilliant boyfriend has shot himself -- and now Michael's mother is blaming Josie for her son's suicide. Visit ewu.edu/getlit.

"A yoga enthusiast, a community college Spanish instructor, and a vegetarian (except for bacon)."  That line drew the biggest laugh at Saturday night's Jess Walter-Richard Russo reading at the Bing. Walter shared a story about a 34-year-old unemployed, divorced loser in Spokane who tries to make something better out of his life. (The bacon-eating vegetarian is Cole's latest girlfriend.) Walter's story, "Pompeii" -- the narrator imagines future archaeologists unearthing the bandages and broken bones of Cole's teammates on his pretty-damn-awful men's rec-league basketball team (which plays at Glover Junior High) -- is part of a series of stories that he and Sherman Alexie are trading. Alexie's writing about his set of  gym rats over in Seattle, Walter's got his over-40 beat-down ballers over here, and eventually (so the plan goes), they'll (fictionally) meet in a game somewhere around Ellensburg.

Or maybe Omak. (Walter joked that when he gives readings in Seattle and is introduced as a "Spokane novelist," the phrase is uttered in tones usually reserved for "Omak ballerina.")

Russo read the section of That Old Cape Magic in which the main character's feeble old father, lusting for a grad student, more or less traps himself into writing her dissertation for her. Walter had led off with "Pompeii," and then the pair took questions on their slowly evolving collaboration on the screenplay for Citizen Vince; their female characters; their sympathy for life's losers; and their writing processes ("metronomic, like an insurance salesman" for Russo -- as for Walter, he's "more of a binge writer").

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