At the sold-out November 2 event in Eugene, Oregon’s WOW Hall, Portland authors Lidia Yuknavitch, Chelsea Cain, and Chuck Palahniuk gave another raucous performance of their “Bedtime Stories for Grownups,” the second such event that gave fans—and the authors—a chance to wear pajamas in public, cuddle with stuffed animals, and listen to spooky stories.
After the success of trio’s first story time—at Portland’s Broadway Books on September 13—the three gathered again in Eugene, home to the University of Oregon, and regaled the crowd of over 400 people with readings from their work, interspersed with prize giveaways. Yuknavitch, whose farcical novel Dora: A Headcase was released in August by Hawthorne Books to overwhelmingly positive reviews (including a starred review in Publishers Weekly), read a story entitled “Vag-Zilla,” featuring her Dora heroine and her decidedly non-G-rated dream. After telling the audience that the first part of her life was far from ideal, Yuknavitch thanked her fellow presenters, all three of whom are part of the same writing group, for helping make the present so much better.
Cain, the author of the Portland-based series featuring detective Archie Sheridan and serial killer Gretchen Lowell, read her short story from The 21st Century Dead: A Zombie Anthology, a take on Kipling’s Just So Stories complete with infanticide and a zombie baby. Life-size rubber zombie babies were chucked into the crowd during the reading, replaced by various fake body parts when Cain read an excerpt from her latest novel, Kill You Twice, detailing a man’s slow dismemberment at the hands of Gretchen Lowell. As severed limbs flew through the air, Cain said she relished the opportunity to read some of the novel’s gorier bits, which wasn’t always possible when her audience might contain children.
University of Oregon alum Palahniuk, who showered the audience with beach balls and glow sticks, read his college-set short story, “Loser,” where a frat boy on acid attends a taping of “The Price is Right.” Pausing during the reading to encourage his listeners to blow up their balls the fastest for the chance to receive one of the various stuffed animals sharing the stage with the authors, Palahniuk appeared to be conducting a symphony of colors as the inflated balls bounced around the dimly lit hall.
The line for signed books, tickets or even just a scrap of paper following the event snaked through the hall but all three authors hung around until the fans dispersed. Palahniuk, in his opening words, promised that “we’ll play some games, you’ll win some prizes and we’ll read some stories.” The only part of his promise that he didn’t make good was that everything he said was merely to test the microphone.