A former reality TV star turned activist, a modern-day witch, and Joyce Carol Oates meet in a bar and... what happens next? We might actually find out when a stream of excellent local lit events starts flowing at the end of the month.
Tuesday, Jan. 26: Kevin Powell at First Congregational Church, Oakland.
The inevitable "You know you're a nineties kid..." meme, hashtag, whatever, was probably put to bed years ago, but I can't help myself from playing a version of it whenever I see Kevin Powell's name come up in print. You know you're a nineties kid if... you still associate Kevin Powell with the very first season of The Real World, which debuted on MTV in 1992. And yet, Powell has gone on to be a respected journalist, activist, and poet. Take that, Eric Nies. The former Vibe editor has a new memoir out, which he discusses with Hard Knock Radio host Davey D this week. Details here.
Wednesday, Jan. 27: Get Lit at Corkscrew Wine Bar, Petaluma.
Sonoma County can be sleepy when it comes to boundary-pushing lit events, but Get Lit provides a prime opportunity to wake from the stupor. The bimonthly reading series, hosted by award-winning flash fiction writer Kara Vernor and former McSweeney's columnist (and KQED Arts contributor) Dani Burlison, kicks off its 2016 season with readings by Sexy Witch author Lasara Firefox Allen, Joyland editor Lisa Locascio, and San Quentin volunteer and Berkeley Law student Danica Von Hartwig. A lively open mic follows the guest readings; the more the wine flows, as to be expected, the livelier the stories get. Details here.
Friday, Jan. 29: The Basement Series at Sports Basement, SF.
Heat -- we're all looking for it in the depths of winter, whether by fire, whiskey, or legwarmers. And during these foggy, glum days, as we count the months until spring, it makes an utterly appropriate theme for this month's Basement Series. In very exciting news, the featured readers include National Book Award nominee Cristina Garcia and Carolina De Robertis, the author of the best-seller The Gods of Tango. Plus, readings by Mandy Hu, Allison Landa, Susie Change, Shideh Etaat, and Diane Glazman, and free beer from Fort Point Brewery. Yeah, that'll warm you up. Details here.
Saturday, Jan. 30: Charlie Jane Anders book launch at Borderlands Books, SF.
Charlie Jane Anders' new novel reminded me of The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman (one of my favorite books of all time, BTW) for its ability to create an alternate universe that seems perfectly plausible, even while being populated by witches and two-second time machines in a near-future San Francisco. Michael Chabon put All the Birds in the Sky on his "short list of novels that dare to traffic as freely in the uncanny and wondrous as in big ideas," comparing it to The Lathe of Heaven by feminist science-fiction legend Ursula Le Guin. Celebrate the publication of All the Birds in the Sky by the San Francisco-based author (and host of Writers with Drinks) this week. Details here.
Sunday, Jan. 31: Justin Chin Memorial Reading at the San Francisco Public Library, SF.
The San Francisco literary community is still reeling from the sudden death of acclaimed poet and writer Justin Chin in December. In addition to writing several collections of poetry, including Bite Hard, Harmless Medicine, and Gutted, Chin made an indelible mark on literature in the Bay Area as an essayist and performance artist. 'Everything is Known to Us: A Tribute to Justin Chin' is hosted by Kirk Read and Beth Lisick, and featured readers include Lynn Breedlove, Philip Huang, Bucky Sinister, Daphne Gottlieb, Danny Nguyen, and Keith Hennessy, among others. The event is free and open to the public. Details here.
Wednesday, Feb. 3: Joyce Carol Oates at Mrs. Dalloway's, Oakland.
JCO is at it again: This woman is unstoppable. How many books has she written in how many years? Twenty? Fifty? 100? I've lost count. In the same amount of time it takes some writers to write one good sentence, Oates has knocked out yet another novel. Her latest, The Man Without a Shadow, tells the story of Margot Sharpe, a neuroscientist who meets a charismatic and infamous amnesiac. As you can imagine, their love affair is nothing short of complicated (and forbidden). Details here.