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Saturday, June 22

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Author Mon Oct 28 2013

Hooker Ghosts and Baby Roasts: The Book Cellar's 7th Annual Witty Women Writers Night

Last Wednesday's 7th Annual Witty Women Writers Night opened with a song. More specifically, it began with Book Cellar owner Suzy Takacs welcoming Stacey Ballis (Good Enough to Eat, Off the Menu), Amy Guth (Three Fallen Women), Jen Lancaster (Bitter is the New Black, Here I Go Again: A Novel, The Tao of Martha) and Claire Zulkey (AN Off Year) with an original composition set to the tune of The Archies' "Sugar, Sugar":

"Witty, ah, witty women,
You are my author girls,
And you've got me readin' you."

Stacey Ballis led the evening, debuting a tale of a family vacation on a 60-foot houseboat - with plenty of Grandma's impromptu fruit compote (The secret ingredient is cinnamon Teddy Grahams - shhhh!). After becoming stranded on a submerged rock, the family is rescued by a team of Mormon brothers, along with several of their wives and an army of small children. The brothers not only salvaged the boat and the vacation, but also gratefully relieved Ballis' family of the compote.

Jen Lancaster hilariously reflected on leaving her comfort zone while doing a favor for a friend by picking up a registration packet for the Chicago marathon at a health and fitness expo. The discomfort came when she, a plus-sized woman, was surrounded by ultra-fit marathoners who were small in size but heavy in judgment. But it was nothing that Lancaster's wit - along with her use of a melting pot of East Coast accents - couldn't handle.

Next up was Amy Guth, who introduced the crowd to the dead woman with whom she shares a home. While she was not in attendance, Hooker Ghost (as she is affectionately known) would no doubt be pleased with her local notoriety. Guth's relationship with Hooker Ghost began with the specter antagonizing houseguests and Guth's cat, Chairman Mao. But it soon evolved to one of mutual understanding and compromise. Guth agreed to let Hooker Ghost stay, refraining from using the word "whore" and sometimes even asking the ghost for writing advice. Hooker Ghost no longer taunts the cat or appears to visitors, and sometime serves as a household lost and found (For example, a lost opal that was once embedded in Guth's keychain inexplicably reappeared next to her keys - six months and one new address after Guth lost it).

Claire Zulkey ended the evening with a roast of her one-year-old son, encompassing the complicated relationship that parents have with their babies - and proving that babies are really easy targets for roasts. Zulkey supplied her own rim shots as she gazed adoringly up at his picture and worked through a series of zingers at her son's expense ("You just turned one. That means we kept you alive for a whole year. It also means you're almost smarter than the dog."). Staying true to the spirit of the roast, Zulkey closed her set like a borscht belt comic: "Roasting you is so easy, it's like shooting fish in a barrel. Baby fish in a baby barrel. Really small fish. You suck."

For more of these witty women, be sure to check out their upcoming projects. Stacey Ballis' new book, Out to Lunch, comes out on December 3, and is available for pre-order now. Jen Lancaster's new novel, Twisted Sisters, is scheduled for release on February 2014 and is also available for pre-order. Amy Guth is crafting a collection of essays, and Claire Zulkey is working on her next novel with Harper Collins, anticipating a 2015 or 2016 release.

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