WEEK IN PREVIEW: featured events

(Evan Karp)

This past week was pretty tame: people catching up from Litquake, a panel on art and social change, people catching up from Litquake, Kevin Spacey performing Richard III, Josh Mohr at City Lights, and Ian Tuttle at Fivepoints.

Below are our top picks for this coming week, events we think you should try to make it to (or at least know more about). Please, feel free to suggest a future event to be featured. Make your case.

Monday, Oct 24Damascus Launch at The Booksmith

If you missed Josh’s reading at City Lights and/or you’re hoping to get another of Leota‘s amazing cupcakes or character votives (I’m not making any promises at all here, I’m just saying), you might want to head to The Booksmith on Monday for a reading from Mohr’s new book Damascus.

Read a chapter here and some thoughts here.

  • Read what The Chron has to say
  • Read The Rumpus Original Combo
  • Read the review in Publishers Weekly

This event is free and starts at 7:30pm.

Monday, Oct 24Staged reading of Siobhan Fallon

Word for Word is a performing arts company that stages classic and contemporary fiction with a focus on the short story, of which Tobias Wolff has said: “Their brilliant inventiveness in performance, choreography, and staging has created a new artform, and a deeply affecting experience.”

On Monday, Word for Word presents a staged reading of stories from You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon, a window into the world of the U. S. army base that focuses on the families whose men are deployed. Fallon’s debut has received rave reviews:

  • The NY Journal of Books: “…the explosive sort of literary triumph that appears only every few years. As such, it should not be missed.”
  • The NY Times: “…gripping, straight-up, no-nonsense stories”
  • Library Journal (starred): “…even readers who do not usually read short stories should seek out this book.”

Tickets for this event are a suggested $15 and can be purchased in advance or at the door. Show starts at 7pm.

Tuesday, Oct 25Counterfeits release party

Delving into the sinister corners of the globe with a special section of innovative, international noir from Slovakia, Portugal, Sweden, and elsewhere, Counterfeits is “like nothing we’ve ever published,” says the Center for the Art of Translation, and they’re throwing a party. Drink in some music while perusing offerings from Cesar Aira, Egyptian-born Albert Cossery, Russian absurdist Sigizmund Krhizhanovsky, and poems from Mongolian, Catalan, and Bulgarian.

This event starts at 6:30pm at the Make-Out Room with a suggested $10 donation.

Tuesday, Oct 25Colson Whitehead in conversation w/ Michael Krasny

Original wit + a rich imagination sometimes yields a zombie novel. Whitehead, author of the much-acclaimed The Illusionist and recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, will discuss his new book Zone One with The Forum‘s Michael Krasny as part of the City Arts & Lectures series. Esquire calls it “the best book of the Fall.”

Kirkus says: “[Whitehead] sinks his teeth into a popular format and emerges with a literary feast, producing his most compulsively readable work to date. Though there’s enough chomp-and-spurt gorefest to satiate fans of the format, Whitehead transforms the zombie novel into an allegory of contemporary Manhattan (and, by extension, America…),”

and Booklist says: “This diabolically smart, covertly sensitive, ruminative, and witty zombie nightmare prods us to think about how we dehumanize others, how society tramples and consumes individuals, how flimsy our notions of law and order are, and how easily deluded and profoundly vulnerable humankind is. A deft, wily, and unnerving blend of pulse-elevating action and sniper-precise satire.”

  • Read an excerpt in Harper’s
  • Read the first chapter
  • Read a recent interview
  • Find more, including a list of movies that inspired the novel
  • Watch How to Write and the Art of of Writing

Wednesday, Oct 26Yiyun Li @ The Booksmith

Yiyun Li is a Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award winner, a MacArthur Fellow, and one of The New Yorker’s top 20 fiction writers under 40 for good reason!

“A literary voice that brings to mind Nabokov’s description of Chekhov’s narrative style: ‘The story is told in the most natural way possible…the way one person relates to another the most important things in his life, slowly and yet without a break, in a slightly subdued voice.’ As in reading Chekhov, one is struck by how profoundly important the lives or ordinary people are made to seem, and by what a sizable chunk of existence – an entire life or several lives – has been compressed into a few pages….[Yiyun Li] succeeds in making the details of a very particular (and very sharply drawn) time and place express something broader and more universal….[Li’s stories] have the power to create hushed intervals that resonate with emotion….Gold Boy, Emerald Girl is an example of the treasure an artist can fashion from the raw materials of ordinary existence.” — Francine Prose, The New York Times Book ReviewEditor’s Choice

This free event begins at 7:30pm at The Booksmith.

Wednesday, Oct 26: Justin Chin’s 98 Wounds Release Party

Justin Chin‘s writing is at times hardcore and surreal and ranges from poetry swamped in language to confrontational performance. Every time I’ve seen him I’ve left the room stunned, I think, yes, without exception. 98 Wounds is a series of improbably linked stories that reimagines and reconciles the abject, the outlaw, the ostracized, the misfits, and the cranky contrarians among us, and this event should be a memorable prelude to the recent marriage between RADAR and City Lights, a tryst that includes long-time lover and 98 Wounds publisher Manic D Press.

  • Listen to Justin read three of his older poems
  • Read The Chron‘s review of Harmless Medicine
  • Read The Chron‘s review of Gutted

This free event starts at 7pm at City Lights.

Wednesday, Oct 26: 1st Person Singular: Ask the Angels (Patti Smith)

First Person Singular is exploding! Check out the recent mini-feature we did on this series, with a host of videos from some of their shows. This month is “Dancing Barefoot: The Art of Patti Smith:”

The rocker. The writer. The singular sensibility responsible for over thirty year’s worth of wild rhapsody and unflinching reflection. Who else but Patti Smith can reconcile the phrases “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine,” and “Art sings of God and ultimately belongs to him.”? She knows the divine is best met in a pair of sneakers, and achieves sublimity without ever leaving the streets. For this celebration of Patti Smith, a double portrait: accompanied by pianist Joshua Raoul Brody, stage and screen actor Julia McNeal (Hal Hartley’s The Unbelievable Truth, NBC’s Law and Order) will perform selections from Smith’s National Book Award-winning memoir Just Kids, and Theresa Kelly—with full band—will call down the heavens with performances of Smith’s signature songs. Dancing Barefoot: The Art of Patti Smith will be a portrait of the artist in every sense.

This event begins at 7:30pm at Pegasus Books (1855 Solano, Berkeley). Here for more information.

Friday, Oct 28 – Sunday, Oct 30: Kabuki Jazz Cabaret at 3 separate locations

You have to watch a short sample of this dramatic performance:

That’s a mixture of Chinese and Sri Lankan ghost legends, thundering Taiko, cascading contemporary Koto and haunting jazz. Veterans of the avante-garde theater and music scene, writer/actor Brenda Wong Aoki and her long time creative partner Emmy-award winning composer Mark Izu, bring together the best of the best: Grammy nominated multi-percussionist Dr. Anthony Brown, natori Koto master Shoko Hikage, 2010 Best Latin Jazz flutist Mas Koga, vocalist Moy Eng, and Taiko duo Janet Koike with National Heritage Fellow PJ Hirabayashi.

This three-show run includes some addenda:

  1. The Soul of the Great Bell, a traditional Chinese legend of a mighty emperor and the ghost of a young girl imprisoned in a temple bell
  2. The miracle story The Night of the Demon Dancers by writer/performer Nayomi Munaweera

If you can make it to one of the following shows, you probably won’t forget it:

Friday, the 28th: @ Rhythmix Cultural Works | 8pm, $20 in advance ($25 at the door)

Saturday, the 29th: @ Throckmorton Theatre | 8pm, $20 general ($23 at the door and $30 reserved)

Sunday, the 30th: @ Yoshi’s SF | 5pm, $15 advance ($25 at the door)