August's Literary Events

Thursday, Aug. 4
Edie Meidav's new novel Lola, California (FSG, $27), which takes its name from the Kinks song, is set in the author's home base of Berkeley, here described as a “town inhaling during the corset of the Reagan years.” How do these facts correlate? Well, consider a few of the other elements. A 1970s academic-cum-cult leader, now on death row. An estranged daughter, now hiding away among pot growers and nudists. The daughter's former best friend, now hurrying to arrange a stay of execution — and a family reunion. So: a clock-ticking thriller and a maximal social novel. Join Meidav for a conversation about her work with Zyzzyva editor Oscar Villalon at Book Passage, 1 Ferry Building #42 (Market at Embarcadero), S.F. 6 p.m., free; 835-1020 or

Saturday, Aug. 6
Here is one difference between (some) men and (some) women. While the men elbow each other in the ribs and quip, “That's what she said,” refusing to let that joke get old or to listen to what she really did say, the women set about writing sophisticated and revealing essays — sometimes about the men, with their ways and their words and, occasionally, their ways with words. Now there is a book full of such essays and the life-altering male utterances that inspired them. It's called He Said What? Women Write About Moments When Everything Changed (Seal Press, $17), and it collects locally beloved literary luminaries including Jane Ganahl, Kathi Kamen Goldmark, Pam Houston, Joyce Maynard, Mary Pols, and more. Be it a brother coming out of the closet or J.D. Salinger kicking you out of his house, it helps to have literature handy for such occasions. Editor and 2010 San Francisco Library Laureate Victoria Zackheim, along with contributor Rose Guilbault, will discuss said and written things at the library's Potrero branch this afternoon. 1616 20th St. (at Connecticut), S.F. 4 p.m., free; 355-2822 or

Thursday, Aug. 11, and Saturday, Aug. 13
Oyster Culture (Cameron & Co., $20) is the name of Gwendolyn Meyer and Doreen Schmid's new book, and it is no cause for alarm. Meyer and Schmid do not mean to suggest that we've gone on gobbling up these brackishly delicious, sometimes pearl-bearing aphrodisiacs by the plateful without realizing they have notable social, artistic, and intellectual achievements of their own. (Not that that would stop us.) No, actually their book is about the culture surrounding oysters, and the farming thereof, particularly in West Marin. “People, place, and politics here are deeply entwined with oyster consumption and cultivation,” the authors explain. “Early Native Americans probably ate them raw, Gold Rush oyster stews were served to miners in the camps, and the creme de la crème of San Francisco society, and its robber barons, had a voracious appetite for them. Today passionate locavores intent upon fresh, place-based foods award oysters a prime place in an evolving regional cuisine.” Hence this book, which also includes many handsome photographs and recipes. Meyer will be in town twice this month to discuss the book: 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug.11, at Book Passage, 1 Ferry Building, #42, (Market at Embarcadero), S.F., 835-1020 or; and 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug.13, at Omnivore Books on Food, 3885a Cesar Chavez (at Church), S.F., 282-4712 or Both events are free.

Wednesday, Aug. 24
Here's a great idea for a local tag-team author event. Start with the general theme of evolving, colliding, cross-pollinating cultures. Now take a pair of writers who have plenty to say on this theme, as demonstrated in more than a dozen books between them. As a bonus, say they've shared an intercultural marriage for nearly half a century. Finally, invite them to read and discuss their newest books at the Booksmith, a haven for some of the best book talks in town. If the authors happen to be Clark Blaise, with The Meagre Tarmac (Biblioasis, $17), a collection of linked short stories, and Bharati Mukherjee, with the novel Miss New India (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25), then obviously you've already figured out how to manage great local tag-team author events, and your work is done. 1644 Haight (at Belvedere), S.F. 7:30 p.m., free; 863-8688 or

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