I got so much shit for wearing this scarf last night. Yeah, it was 85 degrees in San Diego yesterday — during the day. But one thing I learned back when I was a deck ape is that San Diego gets cold at night. It didn’t matter what time of year it was, if I had to stand watch after dark, I knew I’d better bring a jacket because it would get cold. Sure enough, the fog moved in, the temperature plummeted, and I had the last laugh.
The scarf, by the way, was given to me by my alma mater, Radford University, as a thank you for participating in homecoming celebrations last month and I wore it with pride.
Otherwise it was a great night at the Media Arts Center with a terrific line up of readers that included Keith McCleary, Heather Fowler, Kiik AK, Louis Armand, Meg Tuite and myself. The event was hosted by Matt Lewis of The Radvocate with support from So Say We All. Steve Steinmetz took the author photos.
Keith kicked things off with a terrific reading from States of Terror, a new anthology of literary horror and spooky artwork that Keith and Matt are publishing. More details about this project to come in the near future… Next, Heather Fowler read some excerpts from her new collection from Queen’s Ferry Press, Elegantly Naked in My Sexy Mental Illness, and the poet Kiik AK read some hilarious and thought-provoking poems. After the intermission, I read a short excerpt from Forest of Fortune and was followed by two out-of-town writers: Meg Tuite from Santa Fe, New Mexico and Louis Armand from Prague in the Czech Republic.
Meg wowed the audience with two flash fiction pieces and Louis read from his dazzling new novel Cairo. I had the opportunity to go road tripping with Louis up to Camarillo last week to visit with Sean Carswell and his students at Cal State University Channel Islands — a gorgeous campus that, believe it or not, used to be a state mental hospital and is the inspiration for the Charlie Parker song “Relaxin in Camarillo.”
I’ve known Louis for 20 years and fans of Vermin on the Mount
will remember his visit in October when he read from Breakfast at Midnight
, an ultra-dark neo-noir set in Kafkaville. Cairo
is lighter in tone with a good bit of humor sprinkled throughout: a madcap romp through time and space that was shortlisted for The Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize. If Louis was writing in the United States, he would be much more widely read; but its his unusual background that makes his outlook unique. The website for Cairo
has excerpts, insights and all kinds of interesting ephemera that’s definitely worth checking out, and you can order the book directly from the site as well. Louis is heading to New York for a reading at Unnameable Books later this week, but we will be reconnecting soon with a Vermin on the Mount collaboration in Europe next year.