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Writer-performer Barry Yourgrau is a clutterbug—perhaps even a hoarder? In his hilarious and poignant memoir Mess: One Man’s Struggle to Clean Up His House and His Act, he unpacks the psychology and culture of hoarding, clutter, and collecting, presenting a compelling look at a mysterious compulsion. Confronted by his exasperated girlfriend, Yourgrau embarked on a wide-ranging project to clean up his chaotic New York apartment and life. Known for his books of magical absurd stories, including Wearing Dad’s Head, Haunted Traveller, and The Sadness of Sex, in whose film version he starred, Yourgrau will join magical realist writer Aimee Bender to ponder the power of objects and memories, and the pain of letting go.


Barry Yourgrau

Writer-performer Barry Yourgrau is the author of acclaimed books of brief fiction, including Wearing Dad’s Head and The Sadness of Sex, in whose film version he starred. He’s also the author of NASTYbook, subversive kids’ stories. He’s appeared on MTV and NPR, received a Drama-Logue Award for Performance, and was invited to Sundance Theater Lab to workshop his book Haunted Traveller. He has written for the New York Times, NewYorker.com, Wall Street JournalParis Review, and VICE, among others. Born in South Africa, he lives in New York and Istanbul, and travels widely with his girlfriend, a global gastronomy critic.

Aimee Bender

Aimee Bender is author of The Girl in the Flammable Skirt (NY Times Notable Book), An Invisible Sign of My Own (LA Times Pick of the Year), Willful Creatures (The Believer’s “Best Books of the Year”), The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (SCIBA Award, Alex Award), and The Color Master (NY Times Notable Book). Her short fiction has been published in Granta, GQ, Harper’s, Tin House, McSweeney’s, The Paris Review, and has been heard on PRI’s “This American Life” and “Selected Shorts.” She has received two Pushcart Prizes as well as nominations for the TipTree Award and the Shirley Jackson Award. She lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches creative writing at USC.

Reservation Policy for Free Programs:
As most ALOUD at Central Library programs are free of charge, it is our policy to overbook. In the case of a FULL program your free reservation may not guarantee admission. We recommend arriving early. Space permitting, unclaimed reservations will be released to standby patrons at approximately 7 PM.

Standby Policy:
Standby numbers are distributed in person only one hour before the program, on a first-come, first-served, basis. There is no advance wait list for full programs. Standby patrons will be admitted subject to availability. Most programs will be available via podcast.

Book Signing Policy:
ALOUD is one of many free programs at the Los Angeles Public Library made possible by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. Most ALOUD author programs are followed by book signings. At least one copy of the author’s book must be purchased from The Library Store in order to participate in any post-program book signing, and you will be asked to show proof of purchase. Please be prepared to show your proof of purchase when you enter the book signing line. Proceeds support the Los Angeles Public Library.

Main image credit:  Max Oppenheim / Getty Images

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