Four hundred authors walked into a bar, a police station, an art gallery, a Buddhist center, a cheese shop, a sex shop, a bowling alley. They joined thousands of other people – writers and drinkers, hipsters and hucksters – in the Mission District over a span of only three hours for Lit Crawl, the finale to Litquake. Then they converged on a single after-party to finish what is anything but a joke.
Past tense, because when the mayhem returns Saturday, it will be San Francisco’s 10th Lit Crawl and the end of Litquake XIV (which is going strong with 15 events Thursday, including the likes of ZZ Packer and Andrew Sean Greer, contemporary American Indian writers and poets paired with wines, and eight events Friday, including Mary Gaitskill, T.C. Boyle and Anne Perry).
The scope and attendance of both Litquake and Lit Crawl continue to grow. Lit Crawl expanded into Manhattan in 2008, Austin in 2011, Brooklyn and Seattle in 2012, and, this year, Iowa City, London and Los Angeles. Each year, co-founders Jane Ganahl and Jack Boulware say the festival’s programming won’t expand anymore, but clearly that’s only the ninth day talking; by that point, it’s a miracle they’re still standing.
Lit Crawl might be best understood as a giant game of choose your own adventure – only everyone is playing at the same time, pausing with their maps and festival guides to find out where that reading is with the author they want to see, or what’s happening right over there; there is truly nothing like it, with literature in the streets and everywhere you turn; even folks who never attend readings will find themselves picking up a guide and following along.
Whether you like storytelling, comedy, poetry concerned with emotions or the fabric of language, fiction, nonfiction, creative nonfiction, a little bit of everything; whether, more than anything, you want to experience the power of human expression in a Laundromat; there is something for everyone.
Guides, with author bios and venue information, are available for free at each Litquake event and also online; preparation is encouraged, but so is spontaneity: You never know who you might run into while crossing the street, but it’s a safe bet they’re headed toward something interesting.
IF YOU GO
Lit Crawl: 6 p.m. Saturday. Free. Various locations; check website for schedule.
Other book events
Bernal Yoga Literary Series celebrates its 10th anniversary featuring many of its former curators: Keith Ekiss, Elizabeth Costello and Matthew Iribarne, as well as a video performance by series founder Ashley David. Joining them will be special guests Maria Hummel (winner of the 2013 American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize), Glori Simmons and the musician Jean Baudin. Set in a unique, intimate space, the series has presented many fine writers of eclectic disciplines and continues under the stewardship of Jeff Von Ward (8 p.m. $5 suggested donation. 908 Cortland Ave., S.F.
Photo by Christine Krieg