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July's Literary Events

Thursday, July 7
Some mad science is going on at the Interdisciplinary Writers Lab. By this we mean that emerging writers and established artists are working together round the clock to crossbreed their forms and evolve their genres. Presented by Kearny Street Workshop, Intersection 5M (that's Intersection for the Arts, at Fifth and Mission), and AMATE: Women Painting Stories, tonight's experimenting is part of a launch party for IWL's online anthology, Chicken Skin and Impossible Trees, and no doubt a cultural proving ground, too. A handful of readers will pour the smoldering contents of their literary test tubes straight into the beakers and flasks of Litquake's Journey to the Epicenter events series, with galvanizing results. 925 Mission (at Fifth St.), Suite 109, S.F. 7 p.m., free; 626-2787 or www.theintersection.org.

Wednesday, July 13
Long before issues of McSweeney's took the form of boxy, booklet-stuffed heads or kaleidoscopes of butterflies, other periodicals experimented with the fanciful yet practical idea of becoming art in and of themselves. It began in earnest in the 1960s, with highly portable galleries popping up everywhere, obviating mainstream media by fusing form and content with invigorating abandon. Issues of Aspen included Super 8 films, artists' postage stamps, and collectible chapbooks. What else? Tonight at City Lights, ask Gwen Allen, an assistant professor of art history at SF State, whose new book, Artists' Magazines: An Alternative Space for Art (MIT Press, $35), looks intently into the heady art-mag heyday. 261 Columbus (at Broadway), S.F. 7 p.m., free; 362-8193 or www.citylights.com.

Thursday, July 14
"Fire monk" has a nice ring, doesn't it? What could it mean? The inspired nomenclature for some exotic amphibian with a you've-really-got-to-see-this mating ritual? (Please notify of any sightings.) But also something else, as clarified by Berkeley author Colleen Morton Busch's new book, Fire Monks: Zen Mind Meets Wildfire at the Gates of Tassajara (Penguin Press,$26). "What was it like," she writes, "to meet a wildfire with minimal training in firefighting but years of Zen practice to guide you?" Her answer is the true story of five residents of the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center near Big Sur, who risked their lives to save their monastery during California's "lightning siege" wildfires of 2008. Busch reads from her book tonight at the San Francisco Zen Center. 300 Page (at Laguna), S.F. 7:30 p.m., free; 863-3136 or www.sfzc.org.

Wednesday, July 27
The great thing about the monthly Classics I Forgot to Read Book Club at Books Inc. is that it gives us all the benefit of the doubt. You totally meant to, but you were busy. Reading other classics, perhaps? No matter. You're still welcome to join a discussion of, in this case, John Steinbeck's Cannery Row. Feeling unprepared? Take this quick quiz: In which city is the Cannery Row of Cannery Row? 1) San Francisco. 2) Monterey. 3) San Luis Obispo. 4) Cannery. What is the main character's name in Cannery Row? 1) Mack. 2) Mick. 3) Herzog. 4) None of the above. Answers: Oh, come on — just Google it. Then head to the Marina branch of Books Inc. 2251 Chestnut (at Avila), S.F. 7:30 p.m., free; 931-3633, www.booksinc.net.

 
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