Vikram Chandra and the Paris Review The Paris Review is 40 and Chandra is nowhere near that, but tonight they will both be honored at the Brazos Bookstore. The literary magazine will be honored with a display of early issues and posters. Chandra, winner of the 1994 Paris Review Discovery Prize, will read his prize-winning story "Dharma." He'll be able to zip through this quickly; were our brilliant young talent to read his novel, Red Earth and Pouring Rain, we'd be in for an overnight stay. "Dharma," Chandra says, is "my tribute to ghost stories. I love ghost stories so I thought I'd try and write one." Rather straightforward comments from a creative writing program grad, a grad with credentials that include work with John Barth and the late Donald Barthelme (whom Chandra honored with an obit in Texas Monthly). He also studied directing with Brad Dourif, Academy Award nominee and the voice of Chucky in the Child's Play movies. The Bombay wunderkind is hard to pigeonhole. However, one thing we can say for sure is that he's interested in his audience, and this isn't as common in the arts as one might hope. "Dharma," and the other stories in his Tales of Love and Longing collection, have a guy sitting in a bar telling stories as a connecting frame. "The audience," Chandra says, "is a present audience that speaks back and is turbulent and unruly and demanding." In post-game analysis, he cites this device as a way of bringing the audience back, of getting away from post po-mo inbred "I have a whole big bag of tricks from writing workshops but no life experiences or common sense because I was too busy spending daddy's money in grad school" modern fiction. The Paris Review exhibition will be on display in the bookstore through February. Chandra reads tonight, 7:30 p.m. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet, 523-0701. Free.
Buster Williams master class The jazz bassist is not only in town for a concert; Buster is also offering a master class. Free. Show up for the class in the early evening and hang around for the concert. After leading the class, Buster plays with his new quintet, Something More. Billy Childs, piano; Antonio Hart, alto sax; Shunzo Ono, trumpet and flugel; and Yoron Israel, percussion, play with Buster under the auspices of SumArts. Master class, 6:30 p.m. Hamman Hall, Rice University, entrance no. 14 off Rice. For details call 667-8000. The master class is open to the public.
Pass the Blutwurst, Bitte Performance artist John Kelly calls himself a performance artist because that's what other people call him. He'd describe his work as multimedia dance theater if he had to. We'll cut to the chase. His work Pass the Blutwurst, Bitte is fabulous -- in the camp sense of the term, for those who need that sort of protection. "There's always a sarcastic element," Kelly says, "but I try to get beyond that." His homage to Viennese artist Egon Schiele employs a lot of music from the ballet Giselle; Kelly's Egon even twirls. However, Kelly says, "It's not supposed to be a joke, I love that music." This love is not something from the Hallmark card shop. Kelly's unique works have astonished and confounded people, but the most novel aspect is his sincerity. He has conviction and he refuses to pander. Art is not a high priority for most Americans, he says. "We're a lazy culture," notes Kelly. "TV has numbed us. We don't even have the Ed Sullivan Show anymore." The problem for artists, he adds, is that "people don't trust us, they don't know our work. I like to lure people in; it's not an elitist endeavor." Pass the Blutwurst, Bitte (Pass the Blood Sausage, Please) is a fine show for the whole family. 8 p.m. Today, Saturday and Sunday. Alley Theatre, Neuhaus Arena Stage, 615 Texas, 228-ALLE. $15 and $20, $12 students.
Chinese New Year Brad Moore of Keenlies makes like a chunky monkey for the Year of the Boar (that's year 4693 according to our Chinese restaurant sources, though cartoonist Matt Groening has claimed it's year 4632) at Laveau's. Keenlies are joined on the stage by Rugrash and Sasquatch 2000. We hear rumors of pyrotechnic displays and promises that a genuine Chinese dragon made by HSPVA students will wiggle through the crowd. Probably, the evening will look like a tong war, Keystone Cops-style, with cheap beer in plastic cups. Smoking allowed. Late. Laveau's, 321 Alabama, 526-9400. $4.