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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

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why do programs fill so quickly?

    ALOUD provides a unique experience for the public to engage with scholars, authors, and artists in the intimate 235-seat Mark Taper Auditorium. Library Foundation Members have the benefit of reserving for programs in advance of the public. Consider joining as a Member to receive this benefit, and check the website on an on-going basis for program availability. Be sure to subscribe to our email alerts, and visit our Media Archive for podcasts and other items from our recent programs.

  • Where does ALOUD take place?

    Unless otherwise noted, ALOUD programs are held at the downtown Central Library’s Mark Taper Auditorium.

  • Where should I park?

    We recommend taking public transportation. Parking for the Central Library is at the Westlawn Garage at 524 S. Flower Street. For more information, visit the Library’s website.

  • Should I purchase the author’s book in advance?

    We encourage you to purchase books from the Library Store. All proceeds benefit the Los Angeles Public Library. Books are made available for purchase when you reserve for a program online, and are also on sale at programs. In order to participate in the book signing, you must purchase at least one book from The Library Store. Members receive discounts on purchases.

  • Where can I find podcasts and videos of ALOUD programs?

    Podcasts and videos from our programs are available free online at our growing Media Archive. Visit the archive at lfla.org/media-archive to explore hundreds of podcasts and videos spanning 20+ years of ALOUD’s history bringing authors, artists, and t thinkers to the Los Angeles Public Library.