June Book Events: Ayelet Waldman, Barry Gifford, Alice Waters, and more

Tuesday, June 9
For Alcatraz: The Gangster Years (UC Press, $35), author David Ward (with Gene Kassebaum) combed countless FBI files and conducted interviews with former convicts to document that special swath of history — 1934 to 1948 — during which the Rock's roster of public enemies earned national notice. And rightly so; future historians will have to settle for Alcatraz: The Obligatory Tour with Your In-Laws That Turned Out to Be Kind of Interesting Years. Even though, as Ward writes, "the only thing they could do is sleep, read, or walk the floor," you just know the place bustled with energy while inhabited by Capone and co. Ward reads at 6:30 p.m. at the San Francisco Public Library, Main Branch, 100 Larkin (at Grove). 557-4400, www.sfpl.org.

Wednesday, June 10
If you recall David Lynch's 1990 film Wild at Heart, you may wonder whether somebody once had a magic formula to keep Nicolas Cage from sucking. Well, yes. That somebody is Berkeley author Barry Gifford, whose novel inspired the movie, and the formula is good writing. Cage has nothing to do with Gifford's recent book, The Imagination of the Heart: Book Seven of the Story of Sailor and Lula (Seven Stories Press, $23), except that it concludes the saga begun by Wild at Heart, so you might not be able to avoid picturing Cage's hangdog mug when Gifford reads at 7 p.m. at City Lights, 261 Columbus (at Broadway). 362-8193, www.citylights.com.

Tuesday, June 16
Ayelet Waldman is more than Michael Chabon's wife, thank you very much. For example, she is also her children's mother. Their Bad Mother! Not really; that's just the name of Waldman's new book (Doubleday, $25), whose subtitle is "A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace," and whose subject, in case the subtitle didn't clarify it enough, is our collective anxiety and cultural preoccupation with the judgment of other people's parenting techniques. And our own. While biding time for the Waldman-Chabon kids to grow up and write tell-all memoirs, head over to Opera Plaza Books Inc., 601 Van Ness (at Turk), where Waldman will read from the book at 7 p.m. 776-1111, www.booksinc.net.

Tuesday, June 23
Speaking of Barry Gifford (a minute ago), here's an excerpt from his blurb on Berkeley author Summer Brenner's book about California sex trafficking, I-5: A Novel of Crime, Transport, and Sex (PM Press, $16): "This book bleeds truth — after you finish it, the blood will be on your hands." Okay, that's frightening and disgusting, but as an endorsement for politicized fem-noir pulp, it's pretty damned thumbs-up. See what Brenner is all about when she reads from her novel at 7 p.m., also at City Lights, still 261 Columbus (at Broadway). 362-8193, www.citylights.com.

Friday, June 26
To some, a title like Edible Schoolyard (Chronicle Books, $25) may imply a shocking manifesto advocating the devouring of small children as a means of carbon footprint reduction. But everyone else knows it's only the book by Chez Panisse restaurateur and Gourmet Ghetto locavore and lifestyle guru Alice Waters, who'll be at Omnivore Books on Food, 3885A César Chávez (at Church), at 6 p.m. to discuss it. Deliciously, we presume. Seating is limited and tickets are pricey ($50!), but that's because they also pay for an autographed copy of the book and benefit the Chez Panisse Foundation. 282-4712, www.omnivorebooks.com.

 
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