Have a Nice Novel

One giant leap for Mankind

MON 8/4

When cult-horror actor Bruce Campbell signed books (and breasts) at a South County Waldenbooks a few years ago, the line to meet him literally wound around the store three times. So it's fair to assume that when Mick Foley -- a cult figure better known as former wrestling stars Mankind, Cactus Jack and Dude Love -- marches into the Crestwood Barnes & Noble to sign copies of his first novel (7 p.m., free, 9618 Watson Road, 314-843-9480), the line will be absurdly long, too.

In an age when a pro wrestler who wore feather boas becomes the governor of Minnesota, can another former wrestler -- one who pretended to be insane and to have conversations with a sweat sock -- write a thought-provoking novel?

Tietam Brown is a coming-of-age tale with bizarre complications. Our hero, Antietam "Tietam" Brown, is just trying to make it through high school without getting beaten up by the steroid-addled bullies comprising the football team. He doesn't understand his hot-tempered father, who entices various wives from around the neighborhood into his bed and takes lengthy mid-coitus breaks to drink beer and do floor exercises. Meanwhile, Tietam is dealing with his first girlfriend, first kiss and first contact-with-an-actual-female-breast experience.

Foley keeps the sex, gore and general weirdness coming throughout the book, and there's some good humor in it, but the emotional orchestrations come off as clumsy and sappy. -- Byron Kerman

My People Call It "Corn"
It's harvest/party time

SAT 8/2

For city-dwellers, there is a serious dearth of harvest festivals. We sow nothing, and so we rarely (if ever) celebrate the end of another successful reaping season. It hasn't always been this way. The Native Americans once had a great city on the east side of the river, and they kept it real with annual harvest festivals. The Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site (30 Ramey Street at Collinsville Road, 618-346-5160) revives the practice with the Native Harvest Festival, which will have crafts, games and demonstrations of old-school corn-usage and food-processing methods. Isn't it time you got in touch with the land? The festivities begin at 11 a.m. and admission is free, so there's no reason not to go -- unless you're one of those flaky grasshopper-types who wants to play all summer and starve through the winter. -- Paul Friswold

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