December Book Events

Thursday, Dec. 4
A daunting 78 pages of Deborah Nelson's The War Behind Me: Vietnam Veterans Confront the Truth About U.S. War Crimes (Basic Books, $26.95) are devoted to evidentiary documents culled from the U.S. government. Nelson's book is as much about the dead as it is the official investigations that were buried alongside them. Light reading this is not. The Pulitzer Prize winner discusses her exhaustively researched tome at 7 p.m. at City Lights Bookstore, 261 Columbus (at Broadway). 362-8193,

Friday, Dec. 5
In a world where single-panel comics are most commonly occupied by the likes of Jeffy and Marmaduke, cartoonist Dan Piraro's Bizarro strip is a welcome respite. In one, a man in an elaborate coat opines, "I'm thinking of shortening my name." He's standing in front of a statue whose plaque reads: "Ivan the Terrible Bowler." This strangely innocent, deadpan humor is Piraro's expertise. He will discuss his comic (and, oh, yes, there will be a slide show!) at 7:30 p.m. at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole). 863-8688,

Saturday, Dec. 13
Nobody knows when cheese was invented. For all we know, its origins are divine. Clark Wolf has devoted his life to the worship of this mysterious product, first running a cheese shop on Nob Hill back in the '70s and then traveling the world sampling cheeses and meeting cheesemakers. He brings the pilgrimage home with American Cheeses: The Best Regional, Artisan, and Farmhouse Cheeses, Who Makes Them, and Where to Find Them (Simon & Schuster, $25). Cheesemaker Soyoung Scanlan of Petaluma's Andante Dairy will be on hand for Wolf's appearance at 2 p.m. at Omnivore Books, 3885a Cesar Chavez (at Church). 282-4712,

Tuesday, Dec. 16
An alcoholic, a remorseless plagiarist, a poor rancher, and an ambitious, self-taught writer who was one of the first American authors to make a living through the written word. Depending on which biography you read, Jack London was some or all of these things. He was also a dedicated socialist who ran for mayor of Oakland on the Socialist ticket and lost (twice) and often signed his letters, "Yours for the Revolution." Sonoma State professor Jonah Raskin will address London's political proclivities, using previously unavailable works by the author, in his talk "The Radical Jack London" at 8 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center, 3200 California (at Presidio). 292-1200,, S.F. Admission is $12.

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