November Book Events: Howard Junker, Joshua Clover, Lierre Keith, and William S. Burroughs

Monday, Nov. 9
If the name Howard Junker sounds at all familiar, it's probably because he edits ZYZZYVA, the reliably good and deliberately provincial West Coast literary journal. In that capacity, he is known for discovering new writers and publishing them for the first time, or at least politely encouraging them with self-effacing rejection letters. If the names Haruki Murakami, F.X. Toole, and (San Francisco's own) Po Bronson sound at all familiar, it's partly because these writers once were ZYZZYVA first-timers themselves. Now that the journal has been in print for a quarter- century, Junker, along with several authors making their print debut in the current issue, will celebrate. Join them at the Jewish Community Center, 3200 California (at Presidio). 8 p.m., free, advance registration required; 292-1233 or www.jccsf.org.  

Wednesday, Nov. 18
Poet, critic, and UC Davis prof Joshua Clover's new book, 1989: Bob Dylan Didn't Have This to Sing About, begins like this: "This is not a history book. How could it be, when history famously ended in the year in which the book is largely set?" As Neo in The Matrix would say, whoa. Clover, who has written at length about The Matrix, also now has written at length about the end of history. Or at least about "the most geopolitically laden year since at least 1945," and what it teaches us about the social context of popular music. For instance, "The Golden Age of hip-hop," he writes, "is none other than the age of political confrontation along race and class lines. This is a truth that wants reckoning." Reckon right along with him at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole). 7:30 p.m., free; 863-8688 or www.booksmith.com. 

Monday, Nov. 23
At first, you might wonder just what the hell author Lierre Keith is talking about. Her latest book, after all, is called The Vegetarian Myth. But unlike Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster, you've actually seen vegetarians — they're definitely real. In fact, Keith herself is said to have been a vegan for 20 years. So there you go. And yet she has concluded that "agriculture is a relentless assault against the planet, and more of the same won't save us." At least the book's more comfortable subtitle is Food, Justice, and Sustainability. Those things are all real, too, you hope. And perhaps that means Keith's book will be the most nutritionally edifying memoir-manifesto hybrid you will read this week. Meet her to discuss it at the Green Arcade, 1680 Market (at Gough). 7 p.m., free; 431-6800 or www.thegreenarcade.com.

Friday, Nov. 20-Sunday, Nov. 22
Ask anyone to name the boroughs, and they always forget Staten Island. Ask them to name the Burroughs, and they always remember William S. Why is that? Well, because his father, Mortimer P. Burroughs, although once a prominent St. Louis businessman, is lesser known. Why else? Because William's 1959 novel, Naked Lunch, a still astonishingly lurid account of an addict on the run from the Man, has endured bannings, obscenity trials, and generations worth of dorm-room adoration by the counterculturally inclined. You don't have to be a junkie and shoot and kill the mother of your child to become a real writer, but it sure worked for this guy. What else in the world can Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Steely Dan, Joy Division, Sonic Youth, and David Cronenberg possibly have in common? Or, for that matter, the San Francisco Art Institute's film department, City Lights, and Grove Press? Well, the last three have joined forces to celebrate the greatest of the Burroughs books and see how it's feeling at 50. That means an entire weekend of commemoration and critical analysis. And how boring that could be if it weren't Burroughs! Events take place at 7 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday at the SFAI Lecture Hall, 800 Chestnut (at Jones), and 7 p.m. Sunday at Amnesia Bar, 853 Valencia (at 19th St.). The local luminary appreciators include Peter Maravelis, Stephen Elliott, Daphne Gottlieb, Michael McClure, Diane di Prima, Lynn Hershman-Leeson, Ron Loewinsohn, Jonah Raskin, and DJ Spooky. www.citylights.com.

 
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