Laughter, the Best Medicine

Beloved Austin raconteur Owen Egerton has been wooed by big players in Los Angeles: He's done screenplays for Fox, Warner, and Disney; the WB is currently developing his novel The Book of Harold into a show about a suburban messiah. The man, however, has resisted the glitz and pyrite, always returning to Austin with much hilarity. Those of us outside the city limits have sucked up entries on Salon or The Huffington Post — a reminiscence on the Egerton family tradition of gifting porn at Christmastime (Playboy for the youngest, Penthouse for the middle son, Hustler for the eldest!) was particularly charming — but we've been eager for a new collection of short fiction. How Best to Avoid Dying delivers typically offbeat Egerton fueled by art and faith, or the lack thereof: A risen Lazarus, still alive, tries not to make it in NYC; a famous fecal author shits himself into a state of nirvana as Norman Mailer gently weeps; Christian camp counselors strive to gain converts by snuffing it. As always, Egerton somehow straddles irreverence and deep regard, splitting our side in the interim.

Wed., Feb. 19, 7:30 p.m., 2014

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