Are You There God? It's Me, Judy Blume Acolyte; Object Presents Blumesday Tribute To Beloved Author Sept. 19

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Local performers gather to salute author who spoke to our deepest adolescent anxieties and helped us weather the storm.

Blumesday, a literary celebration honoring the works of venerated author Judy Blume, will transpire on Sept. 19, 2008, at 8 p.m. at M Bar and Restaurant in Hollywood.

The event is a good-natured spoof of the annual observance of Bloomsday, commemorated annually on June 16, which pays homage to James Joyce by re-enacting the events in his novel, Ulysses, all of which took place on June 16, 1904. The protagonist of Ulysses is named Leopold Bloom, thus Bloomsday. This Blumesday will feature local performers including Melanie Hutsell, Jill Soloway, Carrie Aizley, Maggie Rowe and Ronna & Beverly reading (or otherwise invoking) Blume's work, notably Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret; Blubber; Forever; Deenie; Tiger Eyes; and It's Not the End of the World. Music will be provided by Candypants. "Blumesday" is sponsored by OBJECT, a nonprofit neo-feminist forum co-founded by Soloway (writer/producer of "Six Feet Under") and Lindsay Horvath, president of Hollywood NOW.

Reservations for Blumesday can be made by calling (323) 856-0036. Tickets are $8 (there is a separate $10 food minimum). The M Bar and Restaurant is located at 1253 North Vine St.

Blumesday's inaugural incarnation was hosted in June 2007 in Portland, Ore., by writers Joanna Miller and Heather Larimer. After receiving an outpouring of emotionally charged feedback on the festivities, Miller determined that Blumesday would become an annual event. "Relocating Blumesday to L.A. has allowed us to involve writers and comedians we've admired from afar to join in giving Judy Blume her due," says Miller. Adds Larimer: "We only wanted people to participate who feel as passionately about Judy as we do. We decided that when we approached someone with the idea, if she didn't freak out with excitement, we'd move on. But almost everyone was, like, 'Oh my God! What am I going to read? The scene where Margaret does bust-increasing exercises with her friends in Are You There God? Or the moment that Katherine meets Ralph in Forever? How can I possibly choose?'"

Not only did Blume create compelling contemporary characters to whom her young readers could easily relate; her work in many cases served as the first exposure to subjects like menstruation, masturbation and birth control for her mainly pre-teen and teen audience. Because of her fearless treatment of these nitty-gritty topics, Blume is among the most banned and censored of authors writing for the young-adult audience. As such, she has become a passionate defender of free speech. In 1999 she edited a collection of stories titled Places I Never Meant to Be: Original Stories by Censored Writers.

Perhaps the most widely read of Blume's books is 1975's Forever, published after her daughter requested she write about teens who have sex and are spared any grave repercussions. As the author told "She had read several novels about teenagers in love. If they had sex, the girl was always punished - an unplanned pregnancy, a hasty trip to a relative in another state, a grisly abortion, sometimes even death. Lies. Secrets. Girls in these books had no sexual feelings and boys had no feelings other than sexual."

Blume has also written three novels aimed at an adult audience, Wifey, Summer Sisters and Smart Women, all of which have appeared on the New York Times bestsellers list. Her books have sold more than 80 million copies.

"Judy Blume's words guided so many of us along the rocky road of adolescence," Miller notes. "By acknowledging that with Blumesday, we hope to say thank you to Judy and hopefully introduce new readers to her wonderful, essential work."


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Marie Mulhearn

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