“I’m a con artist in that I’m an actor. I make people believe something is real when they know perfectly well it isn’t,” said John Lithgow, and with five Emmys, two Tonys, two Golden Globes, and two Oscar nominations, I’d believe him. Hear him speak about his new autobiography on Tuesday, October 4th at the Kabuki Theater, presented by The Booksmith, who will also present Jeremy Rifkin on the same evening! Rifkin will discuss his new book “The Third Industrial Revolution,” which explores how Internet technology and renewable energy are merging to create a powerful “Third Industrial Revolution” that will transform the way we work and live in the 21st century. Also this Tuesday, over at City Arts and Lectures, Andy Borowitz will be in conversation w/ Paul Lancour. Borowitz, a comedian and writer whose twitter feed was recently voted #1 by a TIME magazine poll and whose work appears in the New Yorker, is also the man responsible for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. That’s right. He created the Fresh Prince. Pretty awesome in my book.
Poet Marianne Moore wrote that baseball, like writing, is exciting because “you can never tell with either how it will go.” On Wednesday, October 5th, see what she means firsthand by joining Matthew Zapruder, Robin Ekiss, Troy Jollimore, Ada Limon, Dean Rader, and Melissa Stein for the first annual Poetry World Series. Two teams of these up-and-coming Bay Area poets will take turns batting at a poem topic pitched to them by the audience, and only one will earn the title. Plus, this event will be moderated by Peg Alford Pursell (as if you needed a bonus with that roster of poets!). But maybe you didn’t get enough of Burning Man? Fireside Storytelling has you covered: join storytellers as they share some memorably good and not so good times from the notorious festival.
On Thursday, October 5th, Robert Hass will read from his translations of Nobel Prize-winning Polish poet Czesław Miłosz at The Art of Translation in Berkeley for the Lunch Poems series. If you’re still in the mood for poetry afterwards, check out Richard O. Moore + Linda Norton, who will also be reading in Berkeley at Moe’s Books (Berkeley day!). Carl Weiner and Devereaux Baker are this week’s features at Thursdays at Readers.
Brandon Shimoda will talk with Brandon Downing about his art at Studio One this Friday, October 7th, which also marks the beginning of Litquake. Join tons and tons of authors for some devilish fun at this kick-off party at the Verdi Club. Notes from last year’s party. The year before.
On Saturday, October 8th, celebrate monsters and the terror they induce with From Caves, Waves, and Cosmia, a group art show brought to you by the Merchants of Reality. Or check out one of the many Litquake events:
- Writing in California Prisons (noon): Readings from four first-hand reports by men serving long sentences in California prisons. Explore the many doors and windows they present: from the reality of life behind bars to a discovery of new paths to the world they’ve observed over decades of incarceration. Kenneth E. Hartman (read by Alia Hartman), Spoon Jackson (on DVD), Jarvis Masters (read by Susan Moon), Boston Woodard (read by Jon Sievert), Judith Tannenbaum (facilitator). For a preview, check out the inmates’ answers to the inaugural questionnaire.
- Bay Area Poetry (1pm): Litquake’s hour dedicated to local poets is, naturally, jam-packed with goodness: Rebecca Foust, Keetje Kuipers, Joseph Lease [watch this], Brittany Perham, Matthew Siegel [watch this], and Greg Wrenn
- Science Fiction in a Real World (2pm): Readings by Andrew Dugas [watch this], Nick Mamatas, Michael Meloan and Steven Meloan [watch this], and Scott Sigler
- Indie/Self-Publishing (3pm): With big-box bookstores going under, traditional publishers imploding, and print-on-demand enabling everyone to create a book, is it time for writers to take control? Here from Lizann Bassham, Carol Costello, W. Patrick Gallagher, Andrew Haskins, and Carol Verburg
- Barely Published Authors (7pm): Always one of the best events of the festival (you can catch footage and thoughts from last year and the year before), this year features readings by Cynthia Cady [watch this], Pia Chatterjee, Sarah Faulkner, Seth Fischer [watch this], Doug Henderson, Jen Siraganian [watch this], Kenton K. Yee, and Salvatore Zoida [watch this]
- Cross-Border Diatribes (7pm): Two figureheads of Chicano literature who approach U.S.—Mexico issues and cross-cultural identity in radically different ways will be in conversation: Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Alejandro Murguía [watch this], with musical accompaniment by Francisco Herrera.
- Thomas McGuane in conversation (8pm): From the comic pyrotechnics of his early novels, to his part in the freewheeling 1970s arts community of Livingston, Montana (including Richard Brautigan, Jim Harrison, and Sam Peckinpah), to his later works characterized by an increased connection to the natural world, McGuane is an original American writer. And you know Jack.
Sunday, 10/9 – Litquake (you might want to put a pot on the stove, but don’t forget about it):
- Golden Gate and Beyond(noon): A medley of Bay Area writers whose work reveals the impact of living at the continent’s edge: Thaisa Frank [watch this], Howard Junker [watch this], Andrew Lam [watch this], Fred Setterberg
- Golden Gate and Beyond, part 2 (1pm): Mystery, murder, martinis, manual labor, Muni bonds, and machine guns. Everything you could desire from an hour of fiction. Frank Bergon, Barnaby Conrad III, Seth Harwood [watch this], James Warner [watch this], Karen Tei Yamashita [watch this], Merla Zellerbach
- Voices from UC Berkeley Extension (2pm): Faculty members from the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Program in Writing will read excerpts of their work: Daniel Coshnear, Laurie Ann Doyle [watch this], Cody Gates
- Thinking, Believing, Living: The Human as Being (2pm): A potpourri of nonfiction books on what it means to be human. Are we different from machines? Is DNA the software of life? Can aging be spiritual? Is laughter really the best medicine? Is there any hope for a successful relationship or a life beyond pain? Readings by Brian Christian, Patricia V. Davis [watch this], Allen Klein, Pamela Laird, Lewis Richmond, Marcus Wohlsen
- Narratives from Women’s Prisons(2:30): Ayelet Waldman [watch this] and Justice Now’s Human Rights director Robin Levi will read from and discuss their new book, Women Inside: Narratives from America’s Incarcerated Women. This collection of stories of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women across the U.S. is the newest book from McSweeney’s Voice of Witness, a nonprofit oral history book series.
- Writing the Wild(3pm): From the icelands of Antarctica to the underwater worlds of the Sea of Cortez, these novelists and essayists have journeyed into the world’s wildest spaces—natural, urban, mythic, and otherwise—and have returned to tell the tale. Come hear as they share their stories and discuss the trials and wonders of writing from extreme circumstances. Anita Amirrezvani, Natalie Baszile, Lucy Jane Bledsoe, Carolyn Cooke, Michael David Lukas, Jason Magabo Perez
- That’s My Fucking Stool! (4pm): These writers at Vesuvio’s: Alan Black [watch this], Jack Boulware [watch this], Beth Lisick [watch this], Joshua Mohr [watch this], Missy Roback, David Henry Sterry [watch this], Frances Stroh
- “The Great Night” in Buena Vista Park (4pm): Don’t miss this if you can help it. Chris Adrian’s novel The Great Night, with fairies, maypoles, and twinkle lights. Pack a basket, bring a blanket, and join us for magic and revelry at the summit overlooking the city below. Featured readings and performance by Great Night author Chris Adrian, author Andrew Sean Greer, and emcee Daniel Handler, with fairy-inspired merriment provided by Booksmith’s Literary Clown Foolery troupe, and a dreamy string quartet to set the mood.
- The Secret Life of Metaphor(4pm): Also, this should be fascinating: We utter about one metaphor for every ten to 25 words, or about six metaphors a minute. In this lively and informative talk (which includes live juggling of balls as well as words) James Geary shows how metaphor influences our attitudes, beliefs, and actions in surprising, hidden, and often oddball ways. See Geary speak at TED and peruse his blog.
- Voices of North Beach: A Literary Tour (4:30pm): This is usually $20, so if you haven’t been and you’re interested, this is a good, free opportunity. I went two years ago and imagine much hasn’t changed!
- Pitchapalooza (5pm): For those of you currently trying to get a book deal, or even thinking about it, this is a must-do. Like American Idol for books, only without Steven Tyler, 20 to 25 writers get one minute to pitch their book ideas to an all-star publishing panel, including David Henry Sterry, Sam Barry, and Kathi Kamen Goldmark. The winner receives an introduction to an agent or publisher. Anyone who buys The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published gets a free consultation worth $100. Last year’s Litquake winner Chris Cole got a publishing deal for his book! Footage from last year.
- Reality and Fiction Collide(6pm): When distinguished authors whose work has been made into movies get together in North Beach’s iconic saloon—with the son of a former Chicago crime family boss and America’s foremost political satirist—something special is bound to happen that gives new meaning to “it hurts when I laugh.” Hosted by Jody Weiner. Frank Calabrese, Jr., David Corbett [watch this], Will Durst [watch this], Michelle Gagnon, Barry Gifford, Charlie Haas [watch this], Jody Weiner (host), Keith and Kent Zimmerman
- Jane Smiley in conversation with Karen Joy Fowler (7pm): Jane Smiley is amazing. So is Karen Joy Fowler. Together… they will discuss the nature of historical fiction! How important are facts? How much research is required to create a believable fictional universe?
- Adam Mansbach in conversation with Lyrics Born (7pm): Go the F**k to Sleep is a bedtime book that perfectly captures the familiar (and unspoken) tribulations of putting the little angel down for the night. Mansbach joins Lyrics Born and a host of young fathers in considering how best to get their little provocateurs tucked in—without actually uttering the title of the book.
- Being Human: Brian Christian in conversation with Thomas Goetz (7pm): Can a machine be more human than a human? What, exactly, makes us “human” and how does language factor into this? Author and poet Brian Christian tackles this very contemporary philosophical question in his book The Most Human Human: What Talking With Computers Teaches Us What It Means to Be Alive. Litquake brings Christian to San Francisco for a conversation with Wired editor Thomas Goetz.
- James Ellroy in conversation with Janis Cooke Newman (8pm): Notorious Los Angeles author James Ellroy, the self-described “demon dog of American crime fiction, the foul owl with the death growl,” returns to Litquake for an exclusive one-on-one conversation with author Janis Cooke Newman. Topics will range from Ellroy’s relentless and densely plotted writing style, to his adventures with women, adventures with Hollywood, and adventures within the recesses of his mind.