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It takes a whip-smart, wisecracking, poetry-slam champ of a novelist like Paul Beatty to flesh out a story like Tuff. And flesh it out he does: 320-pound player king Winston “Tuffy” Forshay takes on Spanish Harlem and runs for city council in Beatty’s vicious satire. Informed by his time as a protege of Allen Ginsberg, the slam scene, and hiphop, Beatty’s wordplay is laced with icy humor and dead-on observation. But don’t look for him to take up the mantle as leader of the black literati or voice of the hiphop generation. He dispensed his fuck-yous to the kingmakers in his audacious first novel, The White Boy Shuffle, one hilariously sustained meditation on what that role might actually entail: “This messiah gig is a bitch.” Expect to be called out on your shit and shortcomings when Beatty reads from and signs copies of Tuff at 7 p.m. at Vertigo Books, 7346 Baltimore Ave., College Park. Free. (301) 779-9300. (Colin Bane)