October Book Events: Literary Happenings in San Francisco

Sunday, Oct. 9
This year's Litquake has possibly more author events per capita than any other literary festival ever. Here's one: Chris Adrian, who once re-imagined A Midsummer Night's Dream as a novel set in Buena Vista Park, reading from his book in Buena Vista Park. And by a reading we don't mean merely chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon. We mean a whole afternoon of en plein air performance and magic. He'll have help from the Booksmith, the Buena Vista Neighborhood Association, fellow local authors including Andrew Sean Greer and Daniel Handler, and also, we expect, several imps and fairies. It happens from 4 to 7 p.m., and is free, and shuttle service will be available for those who need help reaching the park summit. Signed books and more information will be available at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Belvedere). 863-8688 or www.booksmith.com.

Tuesday, Oct. 11
Let's allow that there is something vaguely tyrannical about all these ongoing "Best American" writing anthologies. They have a whiff of the parent-of-an-honor-student bumper sticker, don't they? Yes, be proud, but please stop rubbing it in. This is why putting Mary Roach in charge of this year's Best American Science and Nature Writing (Mariner, $15) seems like a great idea. With her disarming humor, the Oakland-based author of Stiff, Spook, Bonk, and Packing for Mars gives off a wonderfully anti-elitist vibe. She writes for the rest of us, and presumably edits anthologies for the rest of us too. The new book includes not just big names — your Franzens and Gladwells — but also names you should know, like San Francisco-based contributor Jon Mooallem, who hung out at a Hawaiian albatross colony, ruminating on same-sex animal pairings, for his piece "The Love That Dare Not Squawk Its Name." Meet him and Roach at Bookshop West Portal, 80 West Portal (at Vicente), 7 p.m., free; 564-8080 or www.bookshopwestportal.com.

Thursday, Oct. 20
Ambrose Bierce made himself at home in many forms of writing, and in the world, from whose surface he seemed to disappear in 1913. Now the infamous San Francisco writer is back, and black, as embodied by Felix Justice in a one-man show called Bierce Returns, written by Bart Schneider. Interesting that in the span of nearly a century, Bierce hasn't aged at all. Then again, neither has his wit. "War is God's way of teaching Americans geography," he once observed, and, well, here we are. Here being the Green Arcade, 1680 Market (at Gough). 7 p.m., free (donations accepted);431-6800 or www.thegreenarcade.com.

Sunday, Oct. 23
For years, Canadian culture critic Hal Niedzviecki has been watching you. Are you worried? Of course not. He's Canadian; how worrisome can he be? Also, the only reason he's been watching is that you so obviously want to be watched. We all do. That's why Niedzviecki's nonfiction books include The Peep Diaries: How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors. Well, now you have a chance to watch him back. Niedzviecki will be in town this week with his new documentary Peep Culture (screening at the Roxie on Saturday, Oct. 22, and Wednesday, Oct. 26) and a story collection, Look Down, This Is Where It Must Have Happened (City Lights, $16), which he'll share and possibly overshare today. Hosted by Joyland editor Kara Levy, the afternoon's festivities also will include locals Lizzy Acker, of the forthcoming novella Monster Party (Small Desk Press, $12), and Meg Pokrass, of the flash fiction collection Damn Sure Right (Press 53, $15). It happens at City Lights,261 Columbus (at Broadway), 4 p.m., free; 362-8193 or www.citylights.com.

 
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