Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

Portland Book Festival: Selma Blair in conversation with Esmé Weijun Wang

Selma Blair has played many roles: Ingenue in Cruel Intentions. Preppy ice queen in Legally Blonde. Muse to Karl Lagerfeld. Advocate for the multiple sclerosis community. But before all of that, Selma was known best as … a mean baby. In a memoir that is as wildly funny as it is emotionally shattering, Blair’s Mean Baby tells the captivating story of growing up and finding her truth. Blair is in conversation with Esmé Weijun Wang, author of The Collected Schizophrenias.

This is one of two Portland Book Festival events at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, and requires a ticket for entry, in addition to your festival pass. A limited number of tickets include priority seating and a signed copy of Mean Baby.


NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • “Blair is a rebel, an artist, and it turns out: a writer.”—Glennon Doyle, Author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller Untamed and Founder of Together Rising

The first story Selma Blair Beitner ever heard about herself is that she was a mean, mean baby. With her mouth pulled in a perpetual snarl and a head so furry it had to be rubbed to make way for her forehead, Selma spent years living up to her terrible reputation: biting her sisters, lying spontaneously, getting drunk from Passover wine at the age of seven, and behaving dramatically so that she would be the center of attention.

Although Selma went on to become a celebrated Hollywood actress and model, she could never quite shake the periods of darkness that overtook her, the certainty that there was a great mystery at the heart of her life. She often felt like her arms might be on fire, a sensation not unlike electric shocks, and she secretly drank to escape.

Over the course of this beautiful and, at times, devastating memoir, Selma lays bare her addiction to alcohol, her devotion to her brilliant and complicated mother, and the moments she flirted with death. There is brutal violence, passionate love, true friendship, the gift of motherhood, and, finally, the surprising salvation of a multiple sclerosis diagnosis.

In a voice that is powerfully original, fiercely intelligent, and full of hard-won wisdom, Selma Blair’s Mean Baby is a deeply human memoir and a true literary achievement.

About Portland Book Fest

Portland Book Festival, presented by Bank of America, returns to Portland Art Museum and neighboring venues on Saturday, November 5, 2022, with a preview Friday Night Book Market on Friday, November 4. 

This all-ages celebration of books and community features author discussions, pop-up reading, writing workshops for youth and adults, kids’ story time, an extensive book fair, local food trucks, and more.

All day Festival passes for adults are just  $15 and include entry into Portland Art Museum, most events, and a $5 voucher to use at the book fair. Youth passes for ages 17 and under (or those with a valid high school ID) are free.

Premium events featuring Taylor Jenkins Reid and Selma Blair may be added on to any Festival pass. The Friday Night Book Market ticket includes an all day Festival pass.

Questions regarding Portland Book Festival can be directed to Literary Arts:


Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall : Upcoming Events

Photo of Oregon Symphony brass players performing

Oregon Symphony presents the Holiday Brass concert at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on Wednesday, December...

Showing: 12/06
Photo of gospel choir performing

Oregon Symphony presents the Gospel Christmas concert at the Portland'5 Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall...

Showing: 12/09 - 12/10
Photo of Mariachi Sol de México de José Hernández

Oregon Symphony presents A Very Merry Mariachi Christmas Concert with Mariachi Sol de México de José...

Showing: 12/11
The Moth image of story teller on stage + The Moth logo + Literary Arts logo

Literary Arts presents The Moth Mainstage in Portland at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on Tuesday,...

Showing: 12/12
Photo of Oregon Symphony musicians performing

Oregon Symphony presents their Comfort & Joy holiday concert at the Portland'5 Arlene Schnitzer...

Showing: 12/13
Portrait of Kristin Chenoweth smiling with multiple light bulbs in background

Oregon Symphony presents Kristin Chenoweth with the Oregon Symphony at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall...

Showing: 12/14