Lit Picks: Walter Mosley, Natashia Deon, Emma Cline, and More

Novelist Natashia Deon appears in San Francisco on June 20. ( Casey Curry)

Monday, June 13: Mary Roach at the Nourse Theater (City Arts & Lectures), SF

Mary Roach
Mary Roach

Have you heard about the latest literary game? It's called "What topic will Mary Roach write about next?" Insects? Skateboarding? Beer? Chickens? Perms? Dancing? Nebraska? All good guesses. But all wrong. The correct answer is . . .  war.  Roach's latest book, Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, explores the ways that soldier's survive panic, exhaustion, heat, and noise, and other challenges in the midst of extreme battlefield conditions. The San Francisco-based writer has already covered outer space (Packing for Mars), sex (Bonk), dead bodies (Stiff), and the alimentary canal (Gulp). Really, there's not much left. Roach will be in conversation with Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame. Details here. She'll also be at Kepler's Books on June 22.

Thursday, June 16: Walter Mosley at Kepler's Books, Menlo Park

Walter-Mosley-Grand-Master-3-450x410In April, Walter Mosley was declared the 2016 Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. It's an apt title for the prolific writer, who has written scads of acclaimed mystery books. He's also written plays, non-fiction, cultural criticism, and one very popular book about how to write a novel. If anyone should give you advice about how to sit down and actually write that 300 pages you've been thinking about for the past ten years,  it's Walter Mosley. Charcoal Joe, his latest, is the 14th Easy Rawlins mystery.  It picks up where the last, Rose Gold, left off. Easy Rawlins is about to start a new detective agency when a friend introduces him to Charcoal Joe. Rawlins is soon embroiled in a murder case that sees a young Stanford-bound black man charged with killing a white man. The event is sponsored by the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the 100 Black Men of America, Inc. Details here

Monday, June 20: Natashia Deón at Alamo Drafthouse at the New Mission, SF


8defbcc7_natashia_deon_eventIt's no wonder that the LA Weekly crowned Natashia Deón one of the most fascinating Angelenos in 2013. The Los Angeles-based mother of two is an attorney and law school professor, Sunday school teacher, novelist, and essayist. On top of it all, she founded the popular reading series Dirty Laundry Lit. She either never sleeps or doesn't have a Netflix subscription (probably both). Deón's debut novel Grace, out this month, has been called a "classic" by Rebecca Solnit. Acclaimed novelist Susan Straight says that the "women and men of this novel transcend all notions of what we've read before."  The novel is narrated by the ghost of Naomi, a former slave who runs away from an Alabama plantation in the 1840s. She falls in with a with a Jewish madam named Cynthia and begins a love affair with a white gambler named Jeremy. They have a child together, Josey, who lives to see the Emancipation Proclamation. Put this one on your summer saga reading list. Details here

Tuesday, June 21: Emma Cline at the Commonwealth Club, SF

(see additional Bay Area dates and locations below) 

thegirlsGoogle "highly-anticipated" and "Emma Cline" and it's fairly guaranteed you'll come up with about 100 different results. Cline, who grew up in a Sonoma County as part of the  family behind Cline Cellars, became quite the buzz when she signed a million dollar book deal in 2014. The Girls, her debut novel out this month, opens in Petaluma in the late 1960s. The novel's 14-year-old narrator Evie spots a group of ragtag, sexy hippie girls in a park and soon inches her way into their tribe. As the novel takes its plot inspiration from the infamous Charles Manson stoked murders of Sharon Tate and others in 1969, you know The Girls is heading for an equally heinous outcome.  Cline has a number of Bay Area appearances planned in addition to her Commonwealth Club date (which makes sense since this is a homecoming of sorts). She'll be Reader's Books in Sonoma on June 22,  The Booksmith in San Francisco on June 23, and Copperfield's Books in Petaluma on June 24.

Friday, June 24: Sloane Crosley at Thumbprint Cellars (sponsored by Copperfield's Books), Healdsburg

No doubt, you probably associate The Necklace, that old story about vanity and tragic debt by Guy de Maupassant, with a dreaded 30-pound high school English textbook. Raise your hand if you confused it with that story about the lady who cuts her hair to buy to her husband a fancy doodad just at the moment that he is buying combs for sloane_crosleyher formerly long hair. With The Clasp, Sloane Crosley has rewritten "The Necklace" for modern times. It's not her first book. She's written a couple of essays collections, including the funny I Was Told There'd Be Cake. Crosley, a former book publicist turned accomplished writer, had this to say about her decision to base her novel on a dusty classic:

I was sitting at home one night, pawing through old anthologies, and I reread “The Necklace.” I was surprised by how contemporary it felt. Not timeless — though it’s that, too — but contemporary in the motivations and depictions of the characters. I thought the story could possibly be the basic current I ran through each of my own characters.

And then I started to find out more about Guy. He was a vain, prolific, insensitive womanizing egotistical genius with a bushy moustache and a foul-mouthed parrot named “Jacqout.” I was sold.

Details here. Crosley also appears at Book Passage in Corte Madera on Saturday, June 25.