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Lit Crawl: The view from the stage

August 30, 2010 |  7:01 am
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Saturday night, 11 authors took the stage at Los Angeles' second Lit Crawl, a read-off followed by a round of drinks at five bars in the neighborhood. Above, finalist Allison Burnett, center, accepts applause as Charles Day, a Lit Crawl organizer, wraps up the reading competition.

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The line for the read-off -- held at the Echo, which usually hosts bands -- stretched down Sunset Boulevard. In addition to clubs and bars, the neighborhood is also literary: It's home to the Eastside branch of 826LA and Stories, an independent bookstore.

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Author Neal Pollack's new book is "Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude" -- as might have been expected, he busted out a yoga move during his eight-minute reading. Sadly, I was too slow to get a photo.

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James Greer read from his novel "The Failure." Greer used to play in the band Guided by Voices, so he's used to seeing rock clubs from the stage. This, by the way, is what it looks like without the pretty lighting.

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Graham Moore, who has a historical fiction coming out in the fall, read a memoir piece instead. It was apparently his first reading ever but, nonetheless, a crowd-pleaser: He was a top finisher. Could it have been because his piece was about condoms?

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Gabrielle Calvocoressi was the only poet who took the stage. She has been a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize in poetry.

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All my photos were taken from one spot: the judges table, where I served with Laurie Ochoa (background) and Joe Donnelly, the editors of Slake, the new Los Angeles literary quarterly. We didn't end up judging, though -- that was left to the audience. Mostly, we introduced the readers and tried to look like arbiters of something. It was hard work.

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So hard, in fact, that Joe Donnelly got pizza from Two Boots next door. Extra slices were distributed to the crowd.

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The crowd. The event was sponsored by PEN Center USA, the nonprofit that supports literary culture at home and the freedom to write around the world, along with the books-n-social-networking site Goodreads and Lit Crawl, based in San Francisco.

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Joseph Mattson read from his novel "Empty the Sun," hitting the eight-minute mark just as his protagonist lost a finger.

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Edan Lepucki read from her novella, which will be published in the fall by the independent publishing house Flatmancrooked. She was the only reader to mention "granny panties."

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Host Charles Day prepares before going on stage.

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Rachel Resnick, who wore a yellow oven mitt to help illustrate her story, which involved cooking lamb, closed the reading section of the night. Apologies to the readers I didn't get photographs of -- Samantha Dunn, Katie Arnoldi and the night's champion, Dennis Danziger, who kept the crowd laughing with his dry reading of his novel, "A Short History of a Tall Jew."

After the readings were over, the audience dispersed to five bars in the neighborhood. It's probably best for  posterity that I didn't capture that with my camera.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photos: Carolyn Kellogg / Los Angeles Times

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