Sex, Paralysis, the Usual

It's only River Styx at Duff's

MON 1/19

Monday's River Styx at Duff's authors bring to the Central West End restaurant stories of a drive-in movie screen collapsing onto a hapless demolition crew and a woman seduced by her incompetent landlord (7:30 p.m., $4 to $5, 314-533-4541, 329 North Euclid Avenue).

Eric Shade (pictured), author of the story collection Eyesores, imagines the freak accident at the drive-in that leaves one of his characters paralyzed. The fringe-dwellers in Shade's book drift in and out of the linked tales; in another story the paralyzed man winds up offering bizarre counsel to a young bridegroom who's just been dumped at the altar. The book earned the Flannery O'Connor Award, presumably for its tropes of small-town declivity and dark humor.

Valerie Vogrin, an English professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, provides the literary seduction, such as it is. In a 2002 issue of the New Orleans Review, her story "Conversations With My Landlord" offers an aimless protagonist bedded by her inept landlord -- when he mounts blinds over her windows, "their hold in the wall is as sturdy as a loose tooth."

Like Joan Didion's before her, Vogrin's work is aswamp in anomie. The latter's forthcoming novel, Shebang, purportedly involves another heroine with a devil-may-care attitude, along with such diversions as trampoline tricks and a home birth. -- Byron Kerman

Sweet Viets!
Elaine returns to roost for reading

THUR 1/15

You may remember Elaine Viets from her time as a columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, when she would wax poetic about such topics as her beloved Coral Court Motel or her youthful discovery that nuns wear black bras (sexy!). Since her departure from St. Louis some years back, Viets has become a successful mystery novelist, first with her Francesca Vierling books and now with the Dead-End Job series. Viets returns to her former stomping grounds, the Machacek branch of the St. Louis Public Library (6424 Scanlan Avenue, 314-781-2948), to read from the latest Dead-End Job installment, Murder Between the Covers, which is set in a bookstore. The reading is free, and it lasts from 7 to 9 p.m. Let's give her a warm hometown welcome. -- Paul Friswold

Forecast: S.N.O.W.
Diagnosis: F.U.N.

SUN 1/18

It's been bandied around the bar floor a thousand times or more how great a town the STL could be if people just, y'know, worked together. Well, pub politicos, pontificate no more! Someone is doing the working-together for you -- namely the fine folks involved with S.N.O.W. Fest 2004. The largest collaborative effort yet among the Washington Avenue venue owners, S.N.O.W. Fest is billed as a culinary, musical and cultural celebration of urban renewal, highlighting the streetscape, nightlife and residential development on, strangely enough, Washington Avenue. Taking place at 8 p.m. at eleven locations on or near that storied street, including mega-dance emporium Velvet (1301 Washington Avenue), hipster chill-out lounge Lo (550 North 15th Street), sushi-and-pool multiplex Rue 13 (1313 Washington Avenue) and various other dance clubs, coffee bars and restaurants, S.N.O.W. Fest requires a single wristband for admission to each spot. These wristbands can be had for the low, low price of nothing from the venues themselves, at or from some yokels running a Web site at -- Erik Carlson

Blues Cubed

THUR 1/15

Know any fifteen-year-olds? We sure wish we did. Thursday's Blues game promotional freebie, for the first 5,000 kids ages fifteen and younger, is even cooler than those lovable bobblehead dolls. The Subway/ Pepsi Nesting Dolls of Al MacInnis, Chris Pronger and Barret Jackman are three ceramic dolls that open up to reveal smaller dolls within, just like Russian tea dolls, and they are So. Damn. Cool. (Blues vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, 7 p.m., Savvis Center, 14th Street at Clark Avenue, 314-241-1888, $15 to $90, -- Byron Kerman