Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Tobias Wolff to appear at Elliott’s ‘Adderall’ book launch

elliott-wolffFiction deity Tobias Wolff (1996 interview on Salon; 2008 profile at the Guardian [UK]) will join author, activist and blogger Stephen Elliott to celebrate the release of Elliott’s new “true crime memoir” The Adderall Diaries.

Admission to the party, which is at the Amnesia bar [map] on Thursday, Aug. 27 at 7:00 pm, is $20 and includes a hardcover of the book. Frequently-seen writer and presenter Bucky Sinister MC’s. Buy advance tix.

Picture: Wolff at left, Elliott at right. Elliott photo by Katherine Emery from LA Times

Dorothy Allison, Adam Savage headline Writers With Drinks

Dorothy Allison

Dorothy Allison. Photo by Jill Posener

Novelist Dorothy Allison (Bastard Out of Carolina, Cavedweller, Trash) headlines Writers with Drinks this Saturday. She is an amazing live reader and you will be a better person for hearing and seeing her.

Also on the bill is “Mythbusters” star Adam Savage — not sure what he’ll be up to, but maybe he’ll be able to duplicate his goofy screen presence. Also appearing are science fiction author Steven Barnes, author Mary Miller, and Clint Catalyst.

Dreamboat Beth Lisick guest hosts. Writers with Drinks is Saturday, Aug. 8 at 7:30 pm at the Makeout Room on 22nd St. near Mission.

Vollmann launches super-sized ‘Imperial’

imperialSacramento author William T. Vollmann, whose last novel “Europe Central” won the National Book Award in 2005, brings out a new book this week about the California-Mexico border. Titled Imperial, the non-fiction tome has a length of 1344 pages and a weight of 3.8 pounds. In a Twitter message, author Luis Alberto Urrea, who has also written extensively about the border and the human and cultural traffic that crosses it, called it “a monster.” The New York magazine reviewer referred to it as “Moby-Dick in the desert.”

Also being released is a photographic companion to the book, also titled “Imperial,” with 200 photographs Vollmann took of the border region during his years of research for the non-fiction tome.

Vollmann appears in the Bay Area this week to read from and talk about “Imperial,” on Wednesday at 7:30 at Moe’s Bookstore in Berkeley, on Thursday at 12:30 pm at the Mechanic’s Institute, 57 Post St. in San Francisco, and at 7:30 pm at Booksmith on Haight St. in San Francisco. More tour dates on booktour.com.

Touring writer has WWD blowout

Just to show Writers With Drinks still rocks the San Francisco literary scene, here are last night’s tweets from novelist Luis Alberto Urrea, author of Into the Beautiful North, who ended his national book tour at the Makeout Room last night. The reference to the Chronicle refers to a negative review the paper is about to give his novel.
urrea_twitter

Rumpus launches live performance evenings

Thao Nguyen. Flickr photo by Switchburn

Thao Nguyen. Flickr photo by Switchburn

Musical guest Thao Nguyen, pictured at right at an Austin gig in 2008, heads the lineup Monday at the first monthly live event sponsored by The Rumpus, writer and editor Stephen Elliott’s website.

The evening also features readings from authors Peter Orner, Andrew Greer, Damion Searls, and poet Barbara Jane Reyes, performance by Word for Word Performing Arts Company, films by Wholphin, and music by The Yellow Dress.

The show starts at 8:00 pm Monday at the Makeout Room (map). Get information and advance tickets.

Writer-designers to appear at RADAR

Laura Albert, Savannah Knoop

Savannah Knoop (pictured at right in 2007 with erstwhile JT LeRoy writer Laura Albert), who for several years played the role of JT LeRoy in public — as seen here, where she is referred to as “Trannie to the Stars” — will appear as herself in the monthly RADAR reading series Tuesday at 6:00 pm at the San Francisco Public Library. Knoop, a fashion designer, is the author of “Girl Boy Girl,” a memoir about the hoax. (“Knoop” means “knot” in Dutch, by the way, a suitable name for someone with a tangled identity.)

Also appearing is Meliza Bañales, who also designs clothing in addition to being a writer, filmmaker and performance artist, and Chelsea Starr, ditto. These are the kind of people for whom the Bay Area queer arts scene was invented; and if it didn’t already exist, they would invent it. Produced by Michelle Tea (who else?), the reading will be at 6:00 pm at the SF Public Library Main Branch [map].

Unless there is a riot following the Prop. 8 decision by the California Supreme Court.

What do you do on public transit? Nothing… or something?

Macarthur BART, photo by Robert Schwandl

Local photographer Thomas Hawk made a very interesting post on his website today, reporting his “unscientific survey” of what commuters were doing on his 9 a.m. BART train from MacArthur to Embarcadero this morning. He didn’t ask anyone what they were doing, relying on his own observations. Most people were “doing nothing,” he found; others he broke down into “other” and into several categories of reading. See his post for the stats.

I love the idea of noticing what others are doing, and recording it unobtrusively and reporting it. It sounds a bit creepy when put that way, but there’s nothing wrong with doing so in a public space. I’d love to see people do this exact thing from time to time: walk the length of a bus or train and compile the same stats, or different ones. It’s just as valuable and interesting to report on skirt lengths, how many people smell, or the number of people wearing glasses.

That said, it’s interesting that Hawk happened to sort his survey by media consumption, and that he expresses surprise that “so many of the people on BART were simply doing nothing (this included sleeping as well).” Of course, BART, and public transit in general, is a great place to read. I’ve sometimes gotten on a BART train and ridden all the way to the end of the line and back just to have a comfortable reading experience uninterrupted by phones, people I know, my cats, or trips to the refrigerator. But those who were sitting quietly “doing nothing” may have relished the chance to do so as much as the people who were devouring media. As someone who sits in front of a computer all day and, often, much of the evening, I find it nice to have a time where I can’t do so — this includes driving, going to the ballgame or the symphony, and yes, “doing nothing.”

By the way, I just noticed that BART has a page on its website where it collects blog and Twitter posts about BART.

Writers to see and hear

Sarah Waters

Sarah Waters

Tipping the Velvet author Sarah Waters will appear at Books Inc., 601 Van Ness, Wednesday at 7:00 pm to promote her new novel The Little Stranger.

The same night at 6:00 pm, Michelle Tea’s RADAR series at the SF Public Library Main Branch [map] features authors Orson Wagon (A Hole in the Rubber), Ricky Lee, and Sarah Fran Wisby appear, along with performance artist Krylon Superstar. That’s free, and there’s always cookies.

And on Thursday, Robert Arellano appears at City Lights [map] reading from his new novel Havana Lunar. Also appearing are Maggie Estep (Alice Fantastic) and Achy Obejas (Ruins). No cookies, but you’re in North Beach, there’s plenty to eat.

Writers with Drinks, Pamela Z, Easter vigils

pamela_zTonight Writers with Drinks features Pam Houston (Cowboys Are My Weakness), Stacie Boschma (Happy Rainbow Poems from the Unicorn Petting Zoo), Laurie R. King (Touchstone, The Art Of Detection), Sean Stewart (Cathy’s Key, Yoda: Dark Rendezvous), Regina Lynn (SexRev 2.0, Sexier Sex), and Minal Hajratwala (Leaving India: My Family’s Journey From Five Villages To Five Continents). As usual, it’s at the Makeout Room, 3225 22nd. St. near Mission in San Francisco, starts at 7:30 pm, and benefits the Center for Sex and Culture. I’d go just to hear Pam Houston read — she’s always terrific.

If you’d rather see something artsier, experimental music maven Pamela Z (pictured at left) is presenting the second in her ROOM series of performances, tonight at 8:00 pm at the Royce Gallery, 2901 Mariposa St. at Harrison.

And if you’re up for something mystical, dark and theatrical, attend one of the many Easter Vigil services held at Christian churches tonight. Classically, a congregation would meet in the “undercroft” of the church, the sub-basement where the skeletons are buried, to remind them of the tomb from which Jesus rises. Nowadays you’re more likely to find yourself in a candle-lit church basement, but the service is still great theater, with scripture readings that move from the creation to the exodus from Egypt to the passion and resurrection. Good bets are Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in North Beach, 8:00 pm; St. Gregory Nyssa Episcopal Church on Potrero Hill, 8:00 pm; Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill, 8:00 pm; or St. Francis Lutheran Church in the Castro, 7:00 pm.

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh: The Movie

MOP014_Peter Sarsgaard as Cleveland Arning and Jon Foster as Art Bechstein stare up at the cloud factory

[Peter Sarsgaard & Jon Foster contemplate The Cloud Factory. Courtesy Peace Arch Films.]

Michael Chabon’s first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, has been made into a feature film (website here) opening this Friday evening at the Embarcadero Center Cinema. It stars Jon Foster as Art Bechstein and Nick Nolte as his gangster dad, Sienna Miller as the love interest, and Peter Sarsgaard as the jealous semi-ex boyfriend. To quote the plot summary from the ticket page:

A coming-of-age story set in the faded glory of early 1980s-era Pittsburgh … the story opens with Art Bechstein (Foster) floundering in his new-found post-college freedom, opting to take the job with the least amount of responsibility he can find (at the appropriately titled Book Barn), while sleep walking through the Series Seven prep courses that will speed him into a job chosen for him by his father (Nolte), far away from the security of his childhood Pittsburgh. Art’s fortunes begin to change when a chance encounter with freshman roommate and part-time drug dealer Mohammed (Omid Abtahi) lands him at a swanky summer party where he falls for the beautifully tipsy Jane Bellwether (Miller). The two quickly connect over a late-night plate of pie, but Jane’s on-again off-again boyfriend Cleveland (Sarsgaard) has other plans for the pair. Taking Art hostage from the dreary Book Barn, Cleveland threatens to throw Art off the top of an abandoned steel mill, a hide-out that Cleveland romantically calls “The Cloud Factory.” Suspended high above Pittsburgh, Art realizes that his summer has finally begun, what would become the last true summer of his life.

Superfans of the book should know that the director and screenwriter, Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball) has substantially reworked the material to make it more cinematic; you may already have noticed that one major character is entirely gone from the summary above, and a lot of other stuff has been dropped, added, or otherwise changed. But in spite of all that, it really captures the essence of the book — which isn’t surprising, as Michael Chabon himself was intimately involved with the development of the film, giving a great deal of support to Thurber and feedback on his script, and he has approved of the final product.

Incidentally, last year I wrote about how Oakley Hall prompted Chabon to turn that dad into a gangster, so in a way, we have Oakley Hall to thank for this nice movie.

Tickets available here; engagement begins Friday night at the Embarcadero Center Cinema.

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