Meanwhile, in California… Lil’ Bitches Tour — Los Angeles Edition

by Julia Jackson

1. BEFORE! 2. Conrad Romo, who emceed, volunteers for 826, and also produces the Tongue & Groove reading series.

It had been a long, long time since I had been to a reading, especially for someone who used to go to readings ~2x a week. It had been even longer since I had dished out a Dish. Fortunately, I chose wisely in the breaking of my social-literary-auditory fast: The Lil’ Bitch Tour (best tour name ever, amirite), which featured five amazing writers: Scott McClanahan, Elizabeth Ellen, xTx, Chelsea Martin, and Jim Ruland. The reading was held at 826LA in Echo Park, which is an organization I had never heard of before, but ended up getting really excited about. 826 is nonprofit tutoring center that focuses on writing. The LA chapter has a tiny little staff, and managed to service 10,000 students last year. Their services are free, and allow students to publish their own books, which is something I can fully get behind. You should probably donate your time and/or money to them because they seem to be an entirely magical kinda entity.

1. SCOTT MCCLANAHAN! 2. Elizabeth Ellen, in a lovely LBD and no shoes. You certainly don’t see writers running around barefoot in New York.

Scott McClanahan is basically one of my favorite living writers. He opened up the evening, which is an incredibly stupid decision because he pretty much always kills it and then makes everyone else look bad in comparison. Killed it, he did, incorporating the following into the reading: the sound of one hand clapping, slow dancing, and music into a story that weaved together Superman IV, a boy who crapped his pants, and childhood decapitation. As writer Amelia Gray said later, “I’m trying to not be a Scott McClanahan fangirl, but it’s hard.”

Elizabeth Ellen took the microphone next. Ellen wore a black dress and no shoes, giving her (in my always humble opinion) a magical sorceress presence. To be able to exude mystical priestess while elbow-deep in the city of LA is quite an accomplishment. Then she began to read/weave her spells. “I’m running out of ways to make you love me,” she said. It’s like Ellen had been examining my long history of failed relationships. Her voice was soft, but had a razor edge to it.

1. Chelsea Martin is an extremely animated young woman. Wait. That statement is incredibly inaccurate. 2. Jim Ruland and his package.

xTx was up third. I tried to take her picture, but the photo did not turn out because she is actually not human. I can assure you, however, that she is most definitely not Roxane Gay, which is contrary to something I read on the internet. She resembles an intense little dart of a woman, and I am simultaneously in love with and terrified of her. The story she read involved vomit and domestic abuse, and was repelling and riveting in equal doses.

1. Dave, who is a writer and musician, and Tammy, who is a very well-rounded adult (she works in real estate, at a catering company, and also helps Conrad out with his reading series). 2. J. Ryan Stradal, with some writer named Amelia Gray, & Elizabeth Ellen. Gray told me she’s been waiting four years to see McClanahan read.

Chelsea Martin took us for a delightful tour into her mind. First, I am going to go on the record and say that my write up of Martin is biased for the following reasons:

1. I love people from the Yay Area

2. Women who wear black-framed glasses are awesome. (~*fun fact*~ I also wear black glasses)

3. Dry, deadpan delivery laced with sarcasm is my favorite thing (besides not wearing pants and/or playing video games).

During her reading, I was laughing with so much force that it made note taking nigh impossible. I am looking at my professional, fake journalisming Hello Kitty notepad and only one quote is legible: “You have a curly-Q pubic hair, does that offend you? No, I’m flattered.” Nothing about Martin was kitschy; she was authentic, compelling, and fucking hilarious. Martin also seems like she would be really fun to ghost ride the whip with.

1. Sean Masterson says: “Wow, Scott McClanahan. It was tits to see that in person.” Andy Roe says: “It’s always good to see Jim Ruland’s package.” 2. Ned Vizzini and Ben Loory are chillin’ bro.

Jim Ruland was the closer. He brought a mysterious package up to the stage, and then proceeded to tell us a story about it, which seemed entirely based in fantasy because it was about a “well-known short story writer” who did a lot of pet-sitting. The story was about others’ stories being successfully stolen for accolades and money, which I think could be taken as a metaphor for fiction writing in general, minus the part about money. Ruland’s a pretty hilarious dude, and everyone enjoyed admiring his package and then making redundant jokes about it. We never found out what was inside of it, but I am fairly certain it did not contain an alarm clock and a dead kitten, although his story suggested it might.

After the show, my counterpart and I meandered around the crowd, looking for people to annoy and possibly frighten. Ruland, who is always a pinnacle of kindness, was impressed by my professionalism and gave me a copy of his book, Big Lonesome, FOR FREE!!1! I love when literary events contain $cash$ and prizes. You should not only purchase his book, but pay double for it to make up for my social-leaching ways. Ruland dedicated his reading to Ben Loory, the guy he was house-sitting for when he wrote his story. My next victim was McClanahan, who told me how he has signed his books as other indie authors, which I found wildly entertaining. He then told me about this guy he met at a reading who was really nice and friendly. Then, McClanahan goes on ye olde internet and sees that same guy wrote that he “had a fake accent and was schticky.” McClanahan is “mad at this guy”!!! I really love that somewhere in Maryland there is an asshat who deeply believes McClanahan is pretending to have a West Virginian affect.

While I was working myself to the bone, Julia was frivolously chatting with a fellow attendee. This person asked who she came with and she replied, “That girl over there who looks like she likes anime.” And now we get to the moral of the story: The next time you are thinking of staying home and re-watching fan subs of Naruto for the 415th time, consider going to a reading instead. You just might have the fun.

***

This Dish was a collaborative effort between:

— Sunny Katz, a fake journalist, MS Paint Master, and A FUCKING CYBORG.

and

— Julia Jackson, the Contributing Editor for the Outlet, a fiction writer, and A FUCKING WIZARD.

{FUN GAME!* GUESS WHO WROTE WHICH PARAGRAPH}

{*PROBABLY NOT ACTUALLY FUN}

About the Author

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