Thursday, Oct. 7
Judd Apatow is often called the father of the bromance movie. It's hard to argue with that label, since his directing credits include The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Funny People. But there's clearly an intelligent mind behind every dick joke in his films, which manage to be raunchy, smart, and sensitive. Apatow has now put together a collection, I Found This Funny: My Favorite Pieces of Humor and Some That May Not Be Funny at All (McSweeney's, $25). The book, which will be released on Oct. 22, includes contributions from Conan O'Brien (funny!), Ernest Hemingway (may not be funny), and Andre Dubus (who?). Tonight, Apatow will sit down for an interview with McSweeney's founder, Dave Eggers, at the Herbst Theatre, where they will discuss their penises and their feelings, and how they feel about their penises, for charity. Proceeds go to 826 Valencia, Eggers' nonprofit. The event is sold out, but the interview will be aired in November on KQED radio. Will Harper
Thursday, Oct. 7
Lan Samantha Chang was showered with critical acclaim, including a California Book Award, for her 1998 story collection, Hunger. Since then, she has gone on to win more awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, and now directs the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. The literary life — its sacrifices, its blessings, and its shortcomings — provides the backdrop to her new novel, All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost (Norton; $23.95). The story of a trio of aspiring poets laboring under the instruction of a daunting professor, it's an exquisite examination of friendship, love affairs, and marriage — and how easily life can pass us by. Chang reads at Kepler's Books, 1010 El Camino (at Chestnut), Menlo Park. 7 p.m., free; 650-324-4321 or www.keplers.com. Oscar Villalon
Tuesday, Oct. 12
Graywolf Press is one of the best indie publishing houses in the country. It has a roster that includes Per Petterson, San Francisco's Stephen Elliott, and Jessica Francis Kane. Kane's new novel, The Report (Graywolf, $15), is exemplary of the quality work from Graywolf. It's a fictional retelling of a real World War II disaster in London's East End that left scores of mostly women and children dead in a Tube stairwell. Both meditative and suspenseful, it looks at how people and governments try to make sense of tragedy, and how the truth never seems to be enough. Kane reads at Green Apple Books, 506 Clement (at Sixth Ave.), S.F. 7 p.m., free; 387-2272 or www.greenapplebooks.com. O.V.
Tuesday, Oct. 19
What's not to like about Jonathon Keats? He's a conceptual artist (thanks to him, many folks own nice pieces of real estate in the fourth dimension), a columnist for Wired, the author of two novels and a story collection — and he looks good in a bow tie. His new book, Virtual Words: Language on the Edge of Science and Technology (Oxford University Press, $19.95), comprises 28 short essays in which he looks at the relationship between words and ideas in our modern high-tech culture. It's brainy stuff, but he is never less than interesting when he tries to figure out the significance of expressions such as “crowd-sourcing,” “w00t,” and “in vitro meat” entering the lexicon. Keats reads at City Lights Bookstore, 261 Columbus (at Broadway), S.F. 7 p.m., free; 362-8193 or www.citylights.com. O.V.
Sunday, Oct. 24
Last year, San Francisco author Richard Kadrey came out with a hilarious locomotive of a novel, Sandman Slim, that was easily one of the most entertaining reads of 2009. The book's eponymous character escapes from Hades to wreak revenge on the L.A. scum who sent him there. Think Get Shorty meets Hellraiser. Sandman is back in Kadrey's new novel, Kill the Dead (Eos, $22.99). This time, he's working as Lucifer's bodyguard in Hollywood, where the devil himself is supervising the filming of his biopic. Meanwhile, there's a Czech porn star who is also a zombie hunter, and a chance that Satan might be our antihero's father. Kadrey will read at Borderlands Books, 866 Valencia (at 20th St.), S.F. 3 p.m., free; call 824-8203 or visit www.borderlands-books.com. O.V.