Tuesday, June 28: Rikki Ducornet at City Lights Books, SF
Rikki Ducornet has long been known for her surreal, vivid writing. Brightfellow, her latest novel, is no exception. The new book, out on Coffee House Press, tells the story of Stub, a wild boy who steals pies, sweaters, cocktails. He befriends Billy, becomes enchanted by someone named "Asthma," which actually makes for a poetic first name when you think about it, and finds himself changed. I could try to describe Ducornet's style of writing, but Michael Martone does it so well in this blurb that I defer to him:
Like an unbounded baron in the trees, like a goat boy on the loose in the groves of academe, this book inscribes a lofty scaffolding of amazing mazes, canopies of wonder. Ignited luminescence, irresistible levitation, iridescent images—the words skip like philosophic stones through a saturated and shimmering exhalation.
Wednesday, June 29: Kim Addonizio at Diesel Books, Oakland
The cover of Kim Addonizio's new memoir is a photo of the author chugging what looks to be a glass of wine, while sitting on a kitchen counter next to a bunch of liquor bottles. She wears a snug, sleeveless denim vest, lace shirt, and black ribbed tights, no shoes. Oh, and a black lace glove. Like a cross between Exene Cervenka, Lucky Star-era Madonna, and your drunk, edgy biker mama neighbor. In short, it's a photo that tells a story in itself, and holds the promise of more drunken, lacy tales in the pages to follow. Addonizio, who lives in Oakland, titled the memoir Bukowski in a Sundress: Confessions from a Writing Life, after a literary critic called her just that (she suspects he wasn't being complimentary) - and despite the fact that she's won fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts, not to mention a poetry collection that was a finalist for the National Book Award. Come hear Addonizio read from essays like "How to Try to Stop Drinking So Much," "All Manner of Obscene Things," and "How to Fall for a Younger Man."
Thursday, June 30: One-Year Anniversary of Literary Speakeasy at Martuni's Piano Bar, SF
It's Friday and a martini sounds super good right about now. But, we'll have to wait until later to order up some gin, vermouth, and olives, when the Literary Speakeasy kicks off on June 30. The one-year anniversary celebration features an eclectic mix of writers and musicians. Peter Bullen is best known as a Quiet Lightning Neighborhood Hero and has stories published in the Oakland Review and the LA Review of Books. Ginger Murray is a "performance storyteller" with an affinity for bad girls, thinkers,and "sublime chaos," so expect a lively reading. Jim Provenzano won a Lambda Literary Award for his novel Every Time I Think of You and works in LGBT media. And then there's Anna Pulley, whose debut book The Lesbian Sex Haiku Book (with Cats!) got a write up in Lenny Letter. Literary Speakeasy is hosted and curated by James J. Siegel, and it's free!
Wednesday, July 6: Nathanial Johnson at Books Inc., Berkeley
Nathanial Johnson wants you to look at weeds, pigeons, and to other semi-wild synanthropes that surround city-dwelling folks at every moment with wonder rather than disgust, or even worse, a complete lack of interest. He states as much in the foreword to Unseen City: The Majesty of Pigeons, The Discreet Charm of Snails & Other Wonders of the Urban Wilderness. And, yes, the title says it all. The Berkeley-dwelling Grist editor devotes individual chapters to the creatures and plants that live a hard-scrabble lives among humans, rarely getting the full attention Johnson thinks they deserve: pigeons (aka "low-class sky rats), weeds, squirrels, ginkgo, turkey vultures, ants, crows, snails, and bird language. He even provides practical recommendations for how any of us can turn our city walks into the call of the wild.