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Topher Payne: Where the Wild Things Go

Playwright and writer Topher PayneMaurice Sendak died May 8, silencing one of the most inventive, delightful, ornery voices of the last American century. His artistic endeavors in a 50-year career ranged from illustration to opera, though the work that made him a legend was a 48-page book about a boy in wolf pajamas entitled “Where the Wild Things Are.” I’ve told the story of my introduction to his work before. I hope you’ll indulge me telling it once more in his memory.

I spent entire summers of my childhood at the county library, curled up in the stacks, reading books not intended for children. The children’s section was of no interest to me. I read “Not Without My Daughter” at age 10. I had to look up what an IUD was in the World Book Encyclopedia. I was horrified and fascinated.

But, much to my surprise, a monster drew me in. He was bull-like creature, catching a little shuteye under a red palm tree. Despite my disdain of children’s literature, I occasionally picked up a copy with interesting illustrations, and this intrigued me. The dark, lightly grotesque images didn’t fit my image of kid lit.

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[Video] Author of ‘Mind-Blowing Sex’ for women comes to Charis on Friday

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Author and sex expert Diana Cage visits Charis Books & More in Atlanta on Friday, May 11, at 7:30 p.m. to read from and sign her new book, “Mind-Blowing Sex" A Woman's Guide.” Cage's other books include “Girl Meets Girl: A Dating Survival Guide,” “Box Lunch: The Layperson’s Guide to Cunnilingus,” “Bottoms Up: Writing About Sex,” and the groundbreaking “On Our Backs Guide to Lesbian Sex.”

She took a few minutes our of her busy schedule to talk to GA Voice about what exactly “mind-blowing” sex is, the research she put into it (her girlfriend didn't mind) and the importance of supporting Charis, the Southeast's oldest feminist bookstore.

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Black gay vampire story comes to Brushstrokes/Mixx on Thursday

Atlanta author K. Murry Johnson

What happens when a high school senior takes a university writing class and falls in love with a fellow student who just happens to be a vampire? Find out as Brushstrokes hosts Atlanta author K. Murry Johnson reading his debut novel, "Image of Emeralds and Chocolate," at Mixx on Thursday night.

Johnson spent years writing the gay vampire love story while also pursuing his technology career. He chatted with GA Voice about the writing process, what makes vampires so compelling, and how two greats of black gay literature helped inspire him.

Your novel, “Image of Emeralds and Chocolate,” was years in the making. What is it like to finally have the book in the hands of readers?

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Topher Payne: Three questions to ask yourself that will dramatically improve your relationship

Playwright and writer Topher PayneAt some point in every relationship, you have to learn how to fight. The stereotype is that women talk about feelings and men talk about issues, but I don’t think that’s true.  In a guy-girl pairing, that just means she’ll talk about the feelings she has about the issues, and he’ll talk about the issues he has resulting from his feelings, so ta-da, now everybody’s on a level playing field. 

In our house, I’m the one who likes to discuss how I feel about things, because I think feelings are fascinating, and also because they’re handy when you’re totally in the wrong.  If you can’t argue based on fact, you can always argue based on feeling.  Because a feeling is never wrong.  And I prefer never being wrong.

But discussing the minutiae of your relationship can be a bit like describing individual blades of grass — while each is a marvel of creation, no doubt worthy of close examination, you could exhaust yourself with the task for months without covering much ground. After you’ve settled into a life with someone, you tend to look at the whole yard and determine whether it’s time to do some serious work, or if you can wait ‘til the weekend. Or maybe the weekend after that.

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Topher Payne: The new year brings a tentative truce

Playwright and writer Topher PayneWe haven’t actually spoken to our schizophrenic next-door neighbor in about six months, save for one afternoon when I was in the back yard, on the phone with my sister. I made the mistake of looking in the direction of Crazypants’ house, which prompted her to scream, “Don’t you look over here!”

I was theoretically happy to oblige, but it’s incredibly difficult to not look in a particular direction when one is standing in one’s own back yard. Go on, try it. It is a challenge.

For the past two years, Crazypants has been convinced that we are sneaking into her home and disabling her security system, garbage disposal, and other home electronics. It’s a blind faith usually reserved for religious fanatics — the difference being when something bad happens, she doesn’t think it’s part of God’s master plan, she thinks it’s a couple of gays with too much time on their hands.