(Maureen Blennerhassett)

It’s official. San Francisco is a literary destination. But you knew that, that’s why you moved here. Seems like you can’t throw a stick in this town without hitting someone with a manuscript, or someone you saw at that reading series last month.

Perhaps the strongest evidence of this alleged lit-mecca is Litquake, our very own literary festival each October, which has spread to New York, Austin, and now occurs throughout the year here. It’s the veritable who’s who elbow rub of the writing world that brings attention to a disparate “community” of authors in an otherwise digital world. Chances are you’ve been to (or heard about) Litcrawl: a multi-venue showcase of both local and imported talent throughout the Mission as the final bacchanalian gasp of the nine-day fest. Imagine, literature as nightlife?

But why wait until October to indulge in a movable feast? On Bastille Day this year, Litquake turned CELLspace, a sprawling venue east of Mission Street, into Paris a la 1920s. Notable local writers morphed into historical ex-pat authors reading from their famous works.

Gertrude Stein (Tara Jepsen) hosted the festivity—did I mention there was an absinthe bar?


Music by Angus Martin and Gabrielle Ekedal


Alan Black was James Joyce, reading from Ulysses… on a Kindle.


My favorite of the evening, Mac Barnett, looks like the ghost of F. Scott Fitzgerald as he read a passage from Echoes of the Jazz Age.

  • “That’s the problem when you ask Scott Fitzgerald to read early in the evening, he’s going to depress everybody. But you ask him to do it late in the evening and he’s going to do it from a stretcher.”


I’m always happy to hear Alia Volz and was eager to hear her take on Anaïs Nin. Finding a passage must have been tough but Volz chose one from The Woman on the Dunes.

  • “The sound is crazy in here, if everybody doesn’t shut up, I’m going to have to take my clothes off.”


Where’s Anaïs without Henry Miller? Josh Mohr followed his phantom lover reading from some selected works.


After the break, Sarah Fran Wisby channeled Djuna Barnes reading from Ladies Almanack.


Matt Stewart’s first novel The French Revolution debuted last Bastille Day; this year he dressed up with a spinning bowtie as Ford Maddox Ford reading from The Good Soldier.

  • “So does anybody know who Ford Maddox Ford is? Yeah me either…”


Finally, the champ himself, Ernest Hemmingway, embodied by Andrew Dugas, read from The Sun Also Rises.

  • “You probably shouldn’t read French when you’ve been drinking.”


Do YOU want to go to a Litquake event? Check their pre-festival events calendar herethey’re programming constantly now—otherwise, see you in October.