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Arts and Entertainment

Writers Air Their 'Dirty Laundry' Tonight at The Mandrake

PEN Center USA holds the first installment of 'Dirty Laundry' tonight.
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Tonight at 8 pm, PEN Center USA and Dirty Laundry Lit present a free night of readings in the program Dirty Laundry: Secrets, Indulgences & Lies at The Mandrake. Featured readers include: Heidi Durrow, Natashia Deón, Eric Layer, Katherine DeBlassie, Willie Davis and Kaitlyn Greenidge.

Durrow is probably the most recognizable name on the bill. Her 2010 novel The Girl Who Fell From the Sky—about a mixed-race child who has to suddenly move from Chicago to Portland to live with her strict African American grandmother—was a critical success and New York Times best-seller. In this excerpt, the young girl is still adjusting to life at her grandmother's after losing her immediate family:

Aunt Loretta eats only one pancake. And Grandma none because her teeth don't set right. There is something dangerous about pancakes because Grandma watches us eat. "How you gonna catch a lizard with your backside loading you down?" Grandma fusses at Aunt Loretta. I am smart and know that when she says lizard she means husband. That is called learning the meaning from the context. Because Grandma says it and she touches Aunt Loretta's face at the same time. That means she's talking about being pretty and being worth something and making it count. Aunt Loretta laughs. And so do I. They are happy that I am laughing. It's the first time as the new girl.

But the styles of these writers/readers tonight are diverse. Here, for contrast, is an excerpt we found from Eric Layer:
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She has vaginas all over her body. They cover her arms, poke out from her chest, and criss-cross her shoulder blades. One rises up from her neck, like a second pair of lips where her Adam’s apple would have been. They’re everywhere except her face, which is flawless, high cheekbones and wide, expressive eyes, like a silent movie siren. Her purple hair is twisted into two knots, sprouting from the top of her head like antennae. Two black snakes wind up the sides of her dress. She holds a pink cigarette in one hand and a whisky bottle in the other. Her eyes float around the room, and eventually land on me. I feel heat, like I’m facing fire. I look away, down at the rusted dryer I’m sitting on. She walks over, hops up on the washer beside me, and whispers in my ear, “This party’s strange.”
We can't wait to see what these scribes have in store for us tonight.

Writer-comic Jeff Eyres will host the event and rock trio Ertel will perform live. The Mandrake is a 21+ venue.

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