The March to Middlesex

Jeffrey Eugenides closes the gender gap

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SAT 9/27

Left Bank Books has been on a roll of late, bringing some of our most influential cultural voices to the city. This week novelist Jeffrey Eugenides arrives to read from and sign copies of his book Middlesex, which won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. And if any writer can be said to have been on a bullet train to a Pulitzer, it'd be Eugenides, who, since he published his first novel, 1993's The Virgin Suicides, has racked up awards, grants and fellowships left and right.

Jeffrey Eugenides sure can write a sentence, one that does backflips and somersaults, cartwheels and back bends, all the while staying true to a very precise thought, one that nails your noggin with magical logic. Whether writing from a woman's point of view about the longing for a baby, which he did in the remarkable short story "Baster" ("Everyone knows that men objectify women, but none of our sizing up of breasts and legs can compare with the cold-blooded calculation of a woman in the market for semen," he writes); about the small wonders and heartbreaks of suburban adolescence in The Virgin Suicides; or about the backtracked history of a genetic mutation that winds its way through the twentieth century until it reaches the body of a hermaphrodite -- the central conceit of the glorious, ever-expansive Middlesex -- Eugenides touches on human emotion and personal history with the vision of someone who understands both empathy and adventure, and who examines biology and psychology and the myriad ways in which the two intertwine. The author appears at 1 p.m. at the Schlafly Branch of the St. Louis Public Library (225 North Euclid Avenue, 314-367-6731, free). -- Randall Roberts

We Mascara Lot
Drag Queen Crazy Bowl rocks

SAT 9/27

Drag queens bowling? A smuttier newspaper would make a joke here about big balls, but we won't go there. In the Gutter: Drag Queen Crazy Bowl isn't just a night of fabulosity and tenpins; it's also a benefit for the AIDS Foundation of St. Louis. Every team will be accompanied by their own real live drag queen as they follow the whimsical rules of "crazy bowling." What's more, drag queens will perform right out there on the alleys, turning the bowling lanes into stages and runways.

"It's pretty unique," laughs Foundation Community Relations Coordinator April Gray. "They can't wear their regular shoes -- their heels -- so they're out there in their evening gowns with bowling shoes on."

Such pricelessly named performers as Dieta Pepsi, Ida Slapter, Ophelia Butz and Kitty Litter will make you feel like you made a 7-10 split even if you throw nothing but gutter balls. (9 p.m.-midnight, Tropicana Lanes, 7927 Clayton Road, $20, 314-367-7273, -- Jason Toon

You Dropped a Prom on Me
Glow kicks it old-school

FRI 9/26

The kids in Glow might try to deny that their music is retro, but that's about as likely as the school's biggest nerd going to the prom with, ya know, like, Molly Ringwald! Forgive us, but Glow is just so John Hughes. Their lush, romantic songs are propelled by a guitar-and-synth combo that hearkens back to the days of Tears for Fears and rugby shirts. The well-constructed ditties rise above, though, with help from a talented female lead singer who, as one local music writer put it, can actually hit the notes.

Glow's synthpop isn't just yesterday's news, though. The trio has released an EP, "Gabriel," which will no doubt be for sale at their upcoming Hi-Pointe gig (9:30 p.m., 1001 McCausland Avenue, $5, One of the songs on it was featured on a recent "old wave" compilation album, too. It seems the days of drum machines and hair gel are never far behind. -- Byron Kerman

Big Babies

SAT 9/27

It's old news that comics aren't just for kids anymore -- they aren't even just for kids and malodorous celibates anymore. At least, that's what they're going to tell you at the Comic Art Show at the City Museum (10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., 701 North 15th Street). To wit, the promoters are bringing in some heavyweights: underground legends Gary Panter (who designed much of the look of "Pee-Wee's Playhouse") and Charles "Big Baby" Burns will be displaying their art and lecturing at Wash. U. afterwards (7 p.m., free, Steinberg Hall, Forsyth at Skinker boulevards, 314-725-9110). Also in attendance will be plenty of emerging minicomics creators, displaying their wares. Ten bucks gets you into the show and the Museum -- a small price to pay to redeem your squandered adolescence. -- Jordan Harper

Rebelles Lettres

MON 9/29

It's in vogue right now to feel like "real rock" is stripped-down and spare. A few chords, a few snarls and neat-o hair -- that's all rock & roll needs.

Well, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and the Stratford 4 say bollocks to all that. Both bands mix rock with atmosphere, letting guitar solos hang out like parts of their personal anatomy and stretching songs past the five- and even ten-minute mark. But don't mistake long songs for jam-band wankery -- especially in the case of B.R.M.C., whose tough-guy name belies the soft shoegazer sounds of their best songs. And the Stratford 4 borrows even more from such hazy bands as My Bloody Valentine and Ride. Both bands are guaranteed to thoroughly rock Mississippi Nights -- bring a lighter ($12, 8 p.m., 914 North First Street, 314-534-1111). -- Jordan Harper

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