Andrew Foster Altschul's Lady Lazarus is a novel about a rock star who committed suicide, his crazy wife, and a world that went into spasms of mourning that will continue forevermore, which is absolutely a veiled account of exactly what you think. But Lazarus also tells the story about the couple's daughter, Calliope Bird Morath, who becomes an insanely famous celebrity poet, eclipsing her father's fame and turning everybody onto poetry -- or rather, death poetry, since the child is just as obsessed with Dad's suicide as everyone else is. On the surface, this premise seems like a bad idea, especially the part about making the child a poetess when dear Frances Bean appears to be all about Prada shoes (see the March issue of Bazaar). But Altschul, who landed stories in Best New American Voices 2006 and O. Henry Prize Stories 2007, carries it off with a high-minded prose style, with big important passages about verse mucking around with TMZ-like pop bullshit. He also keeps his alternate-reality, Po-Mo gig humming by faux-quoting real-world culture and music writers (even former East Bay Express columnist Gina Arnold -- zow!) and inserting himself into the book. He appears at InsideStoryTime's Celebrities with Emily Mitchell, Elizabeth Bernstein, David Gleeson, and Meghan Ward.
Thu., April 17, 6:30 p.m., 2008