Choose Memorial Day weekend. Choose Chicago. Choose gorging yourself on burgers and beer like a real bloody American. Choose drinking. Choose spending Saturday night listening to talented people tell stories. Choose seeing your Scottish literary hero introduce them. Choose making your preview post of the Windy City Story Slam a really terrible Trainspotting reference.
Anyway, locals who are sick of the beer-and-barbecue-and-mediocre-baseball Memorial Day Weekend agenda can take a break and get some culture on Saturday night when novelist Irvine Welsh hosts the finals of the Windy City Story Slam at the Viaduct Theatre in Roscoe Village. If having Welsh emcee the event still doesn't excite you, local lit legend and inventor of the poetry slam Marc Kelly Smith (SO WHAT?) will also be there as six finalists entertain, enlighten and ultimately get crazy intimate in front of an audience. The finalists include Samantha Irby (who runs the wonderful blog Bitches Gotta Eat), Vocalo 89.5 host Luis Perez, Grown Folks Stories host Cara Brigandi, Detroit storyteller Shannon Cason, Scott Whitehair of the storytelling collective This Much Is True and Patrick Salem of the United States Marine Corps.
Welsh has had a busy year, including another trip to the Windy City already. Back in March, he was one of the headliners of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference, he has a new novel out in September in the U.S. and a film called The Magnificent Eleven, which translates Kurosawa's Seven Samurai into the tale of an amateur soccer team protecting an Indian restaurant. The film premiered at Cannes this year. At the beginning of 2012, John Hood spoke with Welsh about his latest projects, including a prequel to Trainspotting called Skagboys:
“I went back to them because the material was already there,” Welsh says. “I just didn't know what to do with it. Then I got thinking about the ‘80's and how it defined so much the Britain we have now and those characters were the best ones I could think of to tell that story.”
Watch the trailer for The Magnificent Eleven and the performance from last year's Windy City Story Slam winner, the brilliant, hilarious (though NSFW) Alex Bonner, below. The latter delivers some serious real talk about working at T.G.I. Friday's.