Author Dan Kennedy should to be packing for his upcoming book tour to promote his first novel "American Spirit," but he continues to procrastinate.

"Yeah, I'm so pathetic," he says. "All I had to do today was pack this little suitcase and I haven't done it yet."

It's that self-deprecating humor and brutal honesty that fetches the laughs from audiences. With his clever columns in McSweeney's, his two comedic memoirs, "Rock On" and "Loser Goes First," and his deadpan deliveries on The Moth podcast on NPR, Kennedy has managed to turn his self-proclaimed pathetic life into very entertaining fodder for readers and listeners.

The Book Lady Bookstore will host a book reading and signing for Kennedy's "American Spirit" at 7 p.m. June 14. He will appear alongside his old friend and fellow best-selling author and raconteur, George Dawes Green.

Kennedy says he first met Green, author and founder of The Moth storytelling series, in 1999 near the beginning of The Moth's inception.

"George was so gracious to me and he welcomed me into the group," Kennedy says.

Kennedy is now a regular raconteur and sometimes-host on The Moth, but his first encounter with the live storytelling gig was something of an accidental experiment.

"I stood on The Moth's main stage in New York and began to tell my story (all stories must be true and first-person accounts) and the crowd just starting laughing and I thought, 'What have I stumbled into?'" he says. "It was so much better than my day job."

Speaking of day jobs, Kennedy admits he actually didn't have a day job during that time.

"I had just lost my job at this dot-com company where I was helping to develop this humor writing website," he says. "We came into work one day and everything was in boxes and that was the first sign that it was going to be a short day at work.

"So, I quickly found myself in an apartment in New York without a job, my girlfriend left me and took the couch. I decided to quit drinking. I went to Austin to be a singer/songwriter and when I got down there, I realized I didn't know how to sing or write songs," Kennedy admits.

But his downfall would soon become his saving grace.

"Actually, that was the story I told for my first Moth performance, and the crowd loved it," he says.

"Yeah, when I heard that laughter, I was hooked. I'm not sure what saved my life - meeting George Dawes Green and discovering The Moth or making the decision to stop ruining my body with alcohol."

Alcoholism is a big topic in Kennedy's new novel, "American Spirit." The main character, Matthew, loses his job and his wife and decides to live in his car while pretending to go to work every day.

"I live vicariously through Matthew," Kennedy says. "I envy him. He looks life straight in the eye and is honest about choosing drinking in his car and traveling around making his life worse with dangerous decisions."

It may not sound like the plot to a typical humor novel, but that's part of Kennedy's comedic magic.

"I tell people, if I aim to be funny, I miss it by a mile," he says.

"If I say what I'm struggling with, I find people relate and start laughing," he adds. "Unless they are really laughing at me and I'm just clueless.

"The book has a lot of dark stuff. I had an editor tell me to take out the gun, the sex, unemployment and bankruptcy. I said no, because it would take out the comedy."

One thing the editors didn't change was the title. Kennedy says he turned the book in with the title "American Spirit" and it has become a topic of interest for book reviewers.

"I'm reading a handful of takes on the deeper meaning of the title and how I really tapped into this creative and artful way to look at life. And I'm like thinking, the truth is it's just named after the brand of cigarettes Matthew smokes," he says.

Kennedy takes a moment to laugh at the situation.

"But, hey, I'll take credit for being deep and thoughtful."

Apparently, appearing deep isn't his thing. While Kennedy doesn't plan to do his storytelling at the book release party, he says it won't be a typical book reading.

"I like to jump around in the book during a reading," he says. "It keeps the audience interested and it's more like my storytelling.

"I've been to author's readings before and they just read a really long chapter and I was like, 'Wow dude, 25 minutes ago I used to be a really huge fan of yours.'"

While Kennedy admits it's exciting to talk about the book, he is also anxious about making his way down to Savannah.

"I was there in 2010 hosting a show on George's Unchained tour," he says. "It's the only town I've been to that got into my blood."

Perhaps he has a deeper side, after all.


What: Dan Kennedy book release, reading and signing with special guest George Dawes Green

When: 7 p.m. June 14

Where: The Book Lady Bookstore, 6 E. Liberty St.

Cost: Free; books available for purchase

Info: 912-233-3628