LINCOLN SQUARE — Tim Johnston's new novel "Descent" is one of the most buzzed-about titles of 2015, mentioned in the same breath as Stieg Larsson's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."
The literary thriller, which centers on the abduction of a teenage girl and the way her disappearance ripples throughout her family, makes "Gone Girl" seem "gimmicky and forced," according to Alan Cheuse in his review of "Descent" for NPR.
Hear what all the fuss is about when Johnston reads from "Descent" at 7 p.m. Wednesday at The Book Cellar, 4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave.
More live lit events in January in and around Lincoln Square and North Center:
The First Time: CHIRP Radio's "The First Time" series features seven guests reading original works based on a common "first" theme — "first chance" in the case of January's outing. Each reading is followed by a song that relates to the story, played live by The First Time Three — Steve Frisbie, Liam Davis and Gerald Dowd. Hosted by Jenn Sodini. 8-11 p.m. Wednesday at Martyrs', 3855 N. Lincoln Ave., $10.
Essay Fiesta: Essay Fiesta's first show of 2015 features SKALD Storytelling Champion Erin Diamond, writer Ted Wesenberg, "You’re Being Ridiculous" host Jeremy Owens and Paul Dailing, author of "1,001 Chicago Afternoons." Co-hosted by Karen Shimmin and guest host Nathalie Lagerfeld. 7 p.m. Monday at The Book Cellar, 4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave. Free, with donations accepted on behalf of 826CHI.
Story Lab Chicago: Story Lab's motto is "new voices telling new stories." Every month, this series books an all-new lineup of up-and-coming storytellers. Hosted by Scott Whitehair. 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21 at The Black Rock Pub & Kitchen, 3614 N. Damen Ave. Arrive earlier if you plan on dining.
Louder Than a Mom: This month's theme is "Bucket List," be it a daily, weekly, seasonal or lifetime list. The format: 10 5-minute stories told by both professional and aspiring performers. "The Teresa" round of 1-minute stories at the end of each event is a great way for newbies to get their feet wet. 8 p.m. Jan. 26 at Martyrs', 3855 N. Lincoln Ave. $8.
The Moth StorySLAM: This month's theme is "Cold." Got a story to tell on the topic? Sign up a half-hour before the show starts and performers' names are drawn from a hat. Storytellers are scored by a team of judges, with a winner chosen at the end of the night. 8 p.m. Jan. 27 at Martyrs', 3855 N. Lincoln Ave. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $8 at the door; a limited number of advance tickets are sold for $16.
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