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Stephen Elliott's unique confessional

November 2, 2009 |  3:09 pm


If you're literary and on the Web, chances are you already know Stephen Elliott. The candid editor of the arts and culture site the Rumpus sends out almost-daily missives; he sent copies of his book "The Adderall Diaries" to people who made online requests; he's used new online connections to set up an unorthodox national book tour and blogged about it. And close to 1,000 people follow him @S___Elliott on Twitter.

Now more people know Elliott and his latest book; he's profiled in today's L.A. Times by Scott Timberg.

"People tell me, 'Oh, you've had a hard life,' " the San Francisco writer says at a shady cafe in Los Feliz on a recent trip to Los Angeles. "But compared to the kids I was in group homes with, I know their stories are worse than my story. If writing was just a competition as to who's had the hardest life, that's not a contest I want to win."

"The Adderall Diaries" is neither a Kerouac-like brag, nor an "Oprah"-ready, James Frey-style record of suffering and recovery. Rather, it is its own weird hybrid, a painfully honest and meticulously crafted memoir wrapped around a true-crime story that gets to the very essence of its time and place.

In April, Stephen Elliott talked to Jacket Copy about the Rumpus.

We focus on regular culture, not pop culture, and we try to introduce people to art they might not have heard of. At the same time, we kind of follow the rules of the Internet, which are still being formed. Our target audience is smart temps. We update at least 10 times a day. Our original features and interviews tend to be around 1,500 words, intelligent content you can read while your boss is focusing on something else. If you're wasting time, it's better to waste it on the Rumpus reading an oral history.

Or, you know, a book blog of your choice.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo is courtesy of Graywolf Press