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Do This: Kevin Sampsell at The Book Cellar

By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 24, 2010 4:20PM

2010_2_24kevinsampsell.jpg Portland, Oregon writer Kevin Sampsell has a knack for naming his books. Their titles inhabit the twilight zone between titillating, creepy, and whimsical. Just peruse his bibliography and you'll see what we mean. Creamy Bullets. Beautiful Blemish. How to Lose Your Mind with the Lights On. Head.

That talent extends to his writing too. Take this single sentence from his great story "I Heart Frankenstein":

I got the feeling that even Alfred started to harbor an animosity toward me because of my loyalty to the sad cat and my ever-shortening ventures into oral sex.

No matter how weird, gross, or disturbing the subject matter, you can always feel a certain humor behind it. When you're reading Sampsell, you can never quite decide if you should laugh or shudder. Frequently you end up doing both. His writing is spare, clean, and unfussy. It leaves plenty of room for you to react.

His new memoir supposedly goes to some pretty dark and personal places (including "incest, madness, betrayal, and death," saith the press release) but somehow we'd wager it's leavened with dollops of pop trivia and hilarious anecdotage. We caught him awhile back at The Dollar $tore Reading Series and his was the funniest piece. We're looking forward to diving into A Common Pornography.

Sampsell reads from and discusses his memoir this Friday, February 26, 7 p.m. The Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Ave., FREE