VOTM in L.A. 1/20

A new year brings new filth and I’m not talking about the new regime being sworn into the White House. Celebrate the arts with writers from L.A., Seattle and points unknown. Books and merchandise will be available for sale and surprises abound in the world famous Vermin raffle. Learn more about the logistics here. Don’t be bitten…

Tickle Me Vermin

Humans have discovered that rats like to be tickled: According to the New York Times “the similarity of rats to humans in the tickling realm is pleasantly bewildering.” News to you, perhaps, but not to the Legion of Vermin.


Look Who’s Coming to Vermin: Susan Straight

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

STRAIGHT: Strangest thing that ever happened to me at a reading was when my first novel came out, my husband and I decided to do a camping book tour with a one year old and three year old, and we arrived in SF with me wearing dirty jeans and a dirtier jean jacket, so the audience at Black Oak in Berkeley thought my elegant, purple-turbaned escort was the novelist and cheered for her. I wanted to pay her to read for me.

Susan Straight has published eight novels and two books for children. Her novel Between Heaven and Here (McSweeneys, 2013) is the final book in the Rio Seco trilogy. Take One Candle Light a Room (Anchor Books) was named one of the best books of 2010 by The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times, and A Million Nightingales (Anchor Books) was a Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2006. Highwire Moon was a Finalist for the 2001 National Book Award. “The Golden Gopher,” published in Los Angeles Noir, won the 2008 Edgar Award for Best Mystery Story. Her stories and essays have appeared in The O Henry Prize Stories, Best American Short Stories, Best American Essays, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Harpers, McSweeneys, The Believer, Salon, Zoetrope, Black Clock, and elsewhere. She has been awarded The Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Los Angeles Times, The Lannan Prize for Fiction, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Gold Medal for Fiction from the Commonwealth Club of California. She is Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at UCRiverside. She was born in Riverside, California, where she lives with her family, whose history is featured on susanstraight.com.

Come see Susan read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, November 11 at 7:30pm

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin: Tyler Knight

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

KNIGHT: I once flew from LA to NYC just to read a short story in the East Village, then flew back to LA. I was in New York just two hours.

Tyler Knight is an adult film actor who has performed in over 500 films. In 2009 he won the Good For Her: Feminist Porn Award, and has also won several AVN Awards. Rare Bird Books published his memoir, Burn My Shadow, in November 2016.

Come see Tyler read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, November 11 at 7:30pm

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin: Mario Piumetti

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

PIUMETTI: Most unusual experience I had at a literary event was going to a J. Ryan Stradal reading during AWP 2016.  I went up after to congratulate him on a great performance.  He smiled and said, “Mario!  I’m so glad you could make it!” I don’t think he and I had met before…

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Mario Piumetti admits he writes science fiction, fantasy, and horror simply because he enjoys them. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in English from California Lutheran University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University, his work has appeared in Carpe Nocturne, The WiFiles, The Horror Zine, and Arts Collide. He is also a story analyst for the entertainment industry. He draws inspiration from a mixture of science, art, history, and imagination, forming a cocktail he calls the Stuff.

Come see Mario perform at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, November 11 at 7:30pm

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin: Julia Ingalls

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

INGALLS: A friend’s marriage had unraveled the week before I had planned to stay with him for a writer’s conference in Seattle. He said I should still stay with him; I promised to help him fight his way “out of the grief cave.” It was an unfortunate cave; his spouse had left him for the singer at their wedding, a slight man with a sharp-planed face who we named “rat-fucker.” I also had another friend who I hadn’t seen in years wanting to meet up after the conference’s panels were done. Several Manhattans later, I found myself on an L-shaped couch between my divorcing friend, my long-lost friend, and the trifecta of lust, opportunity, and booze. Being something of a lightweight, I abruptly fell asleep on the couch; but when I awoke, I realized I had become an inadvertent match-maker. Miraculously, I made it to my 9 am panel without waking anybody up.

Julia Ingalls is primarily an essayist. Her work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Guernica, Salon, and The LA Weekly among other publications. She’s into it.

Come see Julia read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, November 11 at 7:30pm

Vermin in L.A. 11/11

Join us for a night of irreverent readings with Natashia Deón, Julia Ingalls, Tyler Knight, Mario Piumetti, Susan Straight on Friday Nov 11 7:30pm at Book Show 5503 N. Figueroa St. Highland Park. Proudly sponsored by Razorcake. Poster art by Keith Rosson. Books and miscellaneous merchandise will be available for sale. World-famous Vermin raffle and admission are always FREE!

Save the Date

Vermin returns to celebrate our final event of 2016 with some amazing readers. Details coming soon…

VOTM in Lit Hub

Many thanks to Siel Ju for her excellent profile of Vermin on the Mount in Literary Hub: “The Reading Series That Wants Readers to Feel Like Rock Stars.” It was great to reminisce about the highs and lows of running a reading series for a dozen years. Plus, lots of members of the Legion of Vermin (Jami Attenberg, David Fromm, Amelia Gray, Scott O’Connor and Wendy C. Ortiz) weigh in on their experience with VOTM. Here’s the opening paragraph:

“A dominatrix-cum-memoirist. A PEN/Faulkner Award finalist. An ex-junkie rock star. A bestselling novelist. When you walk into a Vermin on the Mount reading, you never quite know what you’re in for.”

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin SD: Shawna Kenney

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

KENNEY: I was reading at Tower Records in Boston on my first book tour and came to a section in the story about golden showers when some 10-year-old kid came wandering through, so I stopped and we all waited until his father caught up to him and ushered him out.

The most special one was reading at City Lights on Halloween years ago with Cara Bruce and Pleasant Gehman. We all wore devil horn headbands for the holiday and afterward the manager took us to the basement where there was sort of a dresser-shrine that had Allen Ginsberg’s Buddhist beads and a matchbook from William Burroughs on it and stuff from all of these greats. He said we could each leave something too, so we left our horns. I felt like I could just die a happy writer right there.

Shawna Kenney is the author of the award-winning memoir I Was a Teenage Dominatrix (Last Gasp), co-author of Imposters (Mark Batty Publisher), and editor of the anthology Book Lovers (Seal Press). Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Playboy, Ms., Creative Nonfiction, Vice, The LA Weekly, Narratively and more. She teaches creative writing in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and gets around LA mostly by bike.

Come see Shawna read at 3rdSpace in San Diego on Saturday, August 20 at 7pm. 

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin SD: Lisa Brackmann

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

BRACKMANN: Recently I was Cara Black’s human Spotify list at an event we did together — she had asked me if I knew how to use Spotify, and I had to confess that I was sadly ignorant (nope, I don’t stream music). She was trying to put together a playlist for her latest Aime LeDuc detective novel set in Paris. This one is a prequel set in the late 80s, so she wanted to have a list of big hits from the period. Since there was no actual Spotify list, during our talk, I, er, sung them. Only a line or two from each tune, as she brought them up, but it was one of the funniest things ever. You probably had to be there…

Lisa Brackmann is the critically acclaimed, New York Times best-selling author of the Ellie McEnroe novels set in China (Rock Paper Tiger, Hour of the Rat, Dragon Day), and the thrillers Getaway and Go-Between. Her work has also appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Review of Books and CNET. She lives in San Diego with several cats, far too many books and a bass ukulele.

Come see Lisa read at 3rdSpace in San Diego on Saturday, August 20 at 7pm. 

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin LA: Peter Holslin

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

HOLSLIN: Someone thought I was a friend of one of their friends, and when I told them I wasn’t, they got a suspicious look in their eye and acted weird around me for the rest of the night.

Peter Holslin is a freelance journalist who grew up in San Diego and now lives in LA. He writes about music, sex and other things. He used to play in a noise-punk band called Bruisecaster and eats goat meat on the regular.

Come see Peter perform at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, August 19 at 7:30pm

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin LA: Heather Fowler

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

FOWLER: Filming for the short film adaptation/trailer shoot for Beautiful Ape Girl Baby had paused due to torrential downpour and the cast and crew came together in a single room. As the book author, I was invited to watch the entire process. While we waited, the actors practiced their lines in the round. It was great to be seated there, watching my characters come to life and listening to director Lauren Rachel Berman advise on the scene. The best moment for me, because it was so privately amusing, was when the actors made slight adjustments to a line here or there and Lauren said, “Try that again. In the book and adapted script, it reads…” 

I’m a constant reviser–to the extent that sometimes, if reading unpublished work, I’ll even revise right as I read, so it was really fun to have the script kept so sacrosanct even when I myself was amenable to more fluid adjustments. Being an author often open to other people’s creative adjustments but having my exact terms kept precise–definitely memorable. I had to remind myself that the novel had yet to drop (but the edits were done), so Lauren was right. Now I’m writing plays and screenplays, so such things may not happen again in this way any time soon–a play/movie in development can be changed at every turn. 

I welcome the organized chaos to come. Here’s the trailer. These actors are great!

Heather Fowler is a novelist, a poet, a fiction writer, a librettist, and a playwright. She is the author of the novel Beautiful Ape Girl Baby (2016) and the story collections Suspended Heart (2010), People with Holes (2012), This Time, While We’re Awake (2013), and Elegantly Naked In My Sexy Mental Illness (2014). She is also co-author of a collaborative book of poems called Bare Bulbs Swinging with Meg Tuite and Michelle Reale. Her work has appeared in such venues as PANK, Night Train, storyglossia, Necessary Fiction, Feminist Studies, and more.

Come see Heather read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, August 19 at 7:30pm

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin SD: Scot Sothern

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

SOTHERN: I collected signed first-edition contemporary fiction for many years and so went to a lot of readings before I ever had one of my own. A lot of book collectors would come to events with bags of books to be signed and I always thought they were kind of nerdy. There was this one guy who kind of became a friend who I didn’t really like. He was in his late seventies and wore a bad toupee and always sat next to me. In a conversation about NYC, where we had both lived in past years, I mentioned a time I’d been mugged and he said he had been mugged as well. He asked if my mugger had a weapon and I said no but there were two of them and I gave them my money and told them to have a nice day. I asked did his mugger have a weapon and he said yeah, a knife. I asked did he give the guy his money and he said no, I took his knife away from him and then killed the son of a bitch. He said it was no big deal, he’d been in the Korean War and killed a bunch of commie bastards. I still think of book collectors as kind of nerdy but with the knowledge that some are killer nerds.

Writer-photographer Scot Sothern spent 40 years hustling photography and drifting from job to job. His first exhibit, “LOWLIFE,” was held at the notorious Drkrm Gallery in Los Angeles in 2010. His first book, LOWLIFE, was published in the U.K. by Stanley Barker in 2011. Sothern has since had solo shows on both coasts of the U.S. as well as in Ottawa, Paris, Basel, and London. The British Journal of Photography called LOWLIFE, “The year’s most controversial photobook.” From 2013 to 2015, Scot wrote more than fifty photo-illustrated twice-monthly columns, “Nocturnal Submissions” and “Sothern Exposure,” for Vice. In 2013, CURB SERVICE: A Memoir was published by Soft Skull Press. PowerHouse Books published STREETWALKERS, thirty years of stories and photographs in February of 2016.

Come see Scot read at 3rdSpace in San Diego on Saturday, August 20 at 7pm. 

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin LA: Yennie Cheung

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

CHEUNG: This was not quite at a reading—more like reading adjacent—but one year at the Festival of Books I was drying my hands in the green room restroom when a big-time, famous author approached me, smiling. I was startled because we’d been introduced briefly by a mutual friend once, but I didn’t expect her to remember me.

“I just want you to know,” she said, “I loved your reading at your panel yesterday.”

“I wasn’t on a panel yesterday,” I said.

“Of course you were,” she said. “I was there.”

“I assure you, it wasn’t me.”

“But I saw you!”

We were still standing awkwardly in front of the paper towels, so I excused myself and walked away. Later, when I thought about all the panels that weekend, I finally understood the confusion. She thought I was Yiyun Li.

Yennie Cheung holds an MFA in Creative Writing from UC Riverside-Palm Desert. Her work has been published in such places as The Los Angeles Times, Word Riot, decomP magazinE, and The Best Small Fictions 2015. An LA native, she’s currently working on a nonfiction book about Downtown Los Angeles.

Come see Yennie read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, August 19 at 7:30pm