We used to think the Twilight series’ central relationship seemed wildly abusive, that is until someone popped a Fifty Shades of Gray audiobook into the cassette player on one long, increasingly awkward car trip. Fetishes are super, especially when they come from a happy, self-loving place (hear Adam Ant’s “Beat My Guest”). But what’s with all these tween girls identifying as pint-sized masochists? How much more overt can Lana del Rey’s Laura Palmer-esque death wish get? Chelsea Hodson explains it all in Pity the Animal (Future Tense Books), her newly published essay tracing human submission from store window displays to sugar daddy dating sites, and highlighting its parallels in the natural world. Tonight she reads alongside May-Lan Tan, who explores many of the same themes in her new story collection, Things to Make and Break (CB Editions), as well as Elizabeth Mikesch, launching her experimental novella Niceties (Calamari Press).

Wed., Aug. 27, 7 p.m., 2014