20

TUESDAY

I might have been drawn to Beauty Before Comfort because it takes place in Newell, W. Va., where Homer Laughlin’s company makes the Fiestaware that threatens to collapse my shelves. Or because, in an age when every schmo thinks he has a story to tell, Allison Glock’s memoir of her grandmother moves with the grace of poetry and without self-indulgence. Or because that grandmother, Aneita Jean Blair, is a peer of my western Virginian mother and her six sisters, survivors of the Depression and World War II in a region all too used to deprivation and early death. But what really hooked me was Aneita Jean herself, whose chutzpah outdoes any Sweet Potato Queen in the Southland: “[T]here is nothing on God’s green earth my grandmother would consider better than an opportunity to stare at her. She gives you bang for your buck—be it by making faces, cracking jokes, offering a peek at her undies…” Glock bares it all at 7 p.m. at Olsson’s Books & Records, 1200 F St. NW. Free. (202) 347-3686. (Pamela Murray Winters)