LATFOB: author and editor Stephen Elliott
The L.A. Times festival of books is coming up on April 24-25. As a preview, Jacket Copy is talking to some of the authors who will be there. This week, we heard from biographer Carol Sklenicka, fictioneer Aimee Bender and nonfiction manifestoist David Shields. And today, author and editor Stephen Elliott answers Carolyn Kellogg's questions. He'll appear on two Sunday panels: Writing -- Making the Small Story Big, and Hot Off the Press -- Writing about Sex.
Jacket Copy: You undertook an unusual tour for your book, "The Adderall Diaries." Are you still touring? What was one of your more memorable readings?
Stephen Elliott: I'm not still touring but during the tour I did 75 readings in 90 days in 33 different cities. A lot of those readings were in people's homes. I would read in their living rooms and sleep on their couch or extra bedroom. A lot of times they would pick me up from the bus station or airport. (Here's a short essay I wrote about it).
There were a lot of memorable readings but one that comes to mind right away is Sharon Glover's house in Richmond, Virginia. She lives right near Monument Blvd. where all the statues are of Civil War soldiers. The people that came to the reading were really interesting, lots of artists. Afterward we went to see Sharon's boyfriend Roger play at this small bar. It was one of the best bands I've ever seen.
Nothing crazy happened at that reading, I just had such a good time.
But there were lots of readings like that, places like Oberlin and Fayetteville that suddenly I could imagine myself living in. Then there was the fistfight that almost happened in Iowa City and the girl in Fort Lauderdale. The road is littered with stories.
JC: What are you currently reading?
SE: I'm reading several books. The one I keep coming back to is "Slouching Toward Bethlehem" by Joan Didion. I'm also rereading Nick Flynn's "The Ticking Is The Bomb," finishing Steve Almond's "Rock And Roll Will Save Your Life," and starting Tom Bissell's "Extra Lives."
JC: What are you looking forward to at the festival?
SE: I'm looking forward to checking out the panels. There are a lot of authors speaking who I'm really fond of. Hopefully they'll say something smart that will explain this strange writing thing we do.
JC: What do you hope to see or do in L.A. apart from the festival of books?
SE: I want to get down to the beach as much as possible. That's really the thing.
JC: What's the latest, greatest thing that's going on at the website you edit, The Rumpus?
SE: There's a ton of great stuff on The Rumpus these days. There's John Bowe's Oral History of Love in Contemporary America; we have a new advice columnist, also named Sugar, taking over for
the old Dear Sugar; Elissa Bassist edits a fantastic series called Funny Women; and a lot of people don't know about our great comics (which will be more prominent after our next redesign).
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: Stephen Elliott in 2009. Credit: Katherine Emery