All 'lit' up

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Alison Bechdel and Charles Rice-González read from new works

By Nick Mattos, PQ Monthly
Want to get your spring off to a smart start? It might be time to pick up some new books to invigorate your mind while the weather warms up. If you're in the mood to get “lit†up, you're in luck; check out seminal queer comic artist Alison Bechdel when she reads from her graphic memoir “Are You My Mother?†at the Baghdad Theatre on May 12, and Charles Rice-González when he speaks on his debut novel “Chulito†on May 1 and May 2 at Portland Community College and Western Oregon University. Alison Bechdel needs little introduction. The acclaimed cartoonist and graphic novelist started her seminal strip “Dykes to Watch Out For†back in 1982. She expanded into the world of graphic memoir with 2006's “Fun Home,†telling the story of growing up with a closeted gay funeral-director father and the impact he had upon her burgeoning sense of “otherness†in the world. Lev Grossman of Time Magazine praised “Fun Home†as “a masterpiece about two people who live in the same house but different worlds, and their mysterious debts to each other." In her new graphic memoir, “Are You My Mother?,†Bechdel turns the lens upon her other parent, poignantly and hilariously considering the rift that can form between mothers and daughters and the impact they have upon each other. At her event at the Baghdad Theatre, Bechdel will read from and sign copies of “Are You My Mother?†(copies are included in the ticket price) and undoubtedly charm everyone present with her grace, wit, and candor.
Another notable queer author coming to town is acclaimed up-and-comer Charles Rice-González, who will make his first appearances in Oregon on May 1 and May 2. Rice-González, born in Puerto Rico and reared in the Bronx, is a writer, long-time community and LGBTQ activist, and executive director of BAAD!, the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance. His debut novel, “Chulito,†is a coming-of-age, coming out love story of a young Latino growing up in the Bronx and coming to grips with his attraction to men. Praised as "a tremendous debut ... full of heart and courage and a ferocious honesty" by bestselling, Pulitzer prize-winning author Junot Díaz, Chulito gives a never-before-seen perspective of the gay Puerto Rican experience in New York City with all the energy and fierceness of the city itself. Rice-González will read from “Chulito†at PCC's Sylvania and Rock Creek Campuses on May 1 and Western Oregon University on May 2; copies of Chulito will be available at the readings for purchase and signing -- the perfect gift for someone who needs a little heat to start out their May.  
Alison Bechdel: Saturday, May 12, 5 p.m. The Baghdad Theatre, 3702 SE Hawthorne, Portland. Tickets $22 (includes copy of “Are You My Mother?â€);
Charles Rice-Gonzalez: Tuesday, May 1, 10 a.m. PCC Sylvania Campus, 12000 SW 49th Ave. Portland. Admission free. Tuesday, May 1, 2 p.m. PCC Rock Creek Campus, 17705 NW Springville Road, Portland. Admission free. Wednesday, May 2, 6 p.m. Western Oregon University, Monmouth. Admission free.