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February 28, 2005

Akashic Psychosexual Thriller Night at Barnes & Noble

by Ron Hogan

The snow was coming down pretty heavily Thursday night, but I wasn't to be deterred from my plans to see an Akashic Books double bill of Arthur Nersesian and Lauren Sanders at the Astor Place Barnes & Noble. About two dozen other brave souls felt the same way, and I'm sure it was only cruel coincidence that both authors read sections from their books that took place in sunny California. After taking a couple pictures of us (to prove to his mother that he actually does do readings, he quipped), Nersesian read a passage from Suicide Casanova set in San Francisco shortly after the assassination of Harvey Milk. In the scene, a porn star turned stripper walks to work and runs into a former costar. The selection seemed like a good choice--funny and self-contained, and detached enough from the main narrative thrust of the book that it doesn't really give away any secrets.

The scene Lauren Sanders chose from her latest, With or Without You, was more central to that book's plotline about a young woman's obsession with a soap opera actress. Through a series of events, the teen has managed to obtain a tour of the Los Angeles studio where the soap is taped, and eventually finds herself on the set with her idol. It was a dead-on imitation of the uniquely teenage mixture of earnestness and cynicism, and it'll be interesting to see how the book as a whole holds up to other stories in what Stewart O'Nan pegged as the modern form of the medieval gallows broadside.

After the reading, I met some of the editors of CyanideMagazine, an online literary journal that's currently offering a signed copy of Suicide Casanova--and maybe a signed copy of Nersesian's other recent release, Unlubricated, in a writing contest. You've still got a little over a month to enter...

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