Tuesday, July 12: Jesse Ball at Green Apple Books (9th Avenue), SF
Jesse Ball has long been known for his strange, dark, fabulist writing. He keeps the tradition going with his latest novel How to Set a Fire and Why (Pantheon Books; 2016), in which Lucia, a teenage girl who has lost everything and lives in a garage with her aunt, discovers an arson club at her new high school. Like Winona Ryder in Heathers, Lucia will do anything to be a part of the club, and to fulfill her dream of setting fire to the entire world. Her father is dead, her mother is in a mental institution, so what does she have to lose? As to be expected with an arson club, the results are destructive and bleak. In a "now for something completely different" moment, Ball's appearance at Green Apple Books is also a board game night, so bring your favorite Backgammon set. Details here.
Saturday, July 16: Beast Crawl Literary Festival, Oakland
The year 2016 marks five years of Beast Crawl, the annual event spotlighting the Bay Area's diverse and impressive literary talents. On one epic Saturday night in uptown Oakland, 150 writers read at 40 local galleries and venues like Telegraph Beer Garden, the Legionnaire Saloon, and Farley's East. How does it work? Separated into one hour literary "legs," you get to choose from about a dozen readings in each. The organizers recommend planning out your route in advance. Crawl map listings are available at Beast Crawl online, along with a full description of participating writers. This is always a good one for lit lovers. Details here.
Monday, July 18: Foglifter Journal Launch Party at Strut, SF
A void was left after Los Angeles-based queer literary journal Bloom quit production last year. Luckily, Miah Jeffra and Chad Koch, former editors at Fourteen Hills, spotted an opportunity and created Foglifter, a brand new queer literary magazine out of San Francisco.
"We hope to make Foglifter a home for queer writers and queer perspectives -- not only in its contents but in its poetics and forms, as well. Think beyond sexuality, beyond politics, beyond theory, but then embrace all of that, too. We hope to dispel the idea that queer has a specific trope, that it requires a certain explanation, and most importantly, that it must be written for an imaginary straight audience."
Writers featured in the inaugural publication include Eileen Myles, Robert Glück, Fatima Espiritu, Kazim Ali, Cheryl Klein, Tim Carrier, Natasha Dennerstein, Nathaniel DeVivo, Joseph Osmundson, Christina Quintana, and Truong Tran. The launch party features Nona Caspers, MK Chavez, Shideh Etaat, Juliana Delgado Lopera, Kevin Killian, Roberto Santiago and Arisa White. Details here.
Monday, July 18: Heather Havrilesky and Mallory Ortberg at Green Apple Books (9th Avenue), SF
Heather Havrilesky has gained quite a following for Ask Polly, her whip-smart, highly readable advice column that began on The Awl and now lives over at The Cut. A new book, How to Be a Person in the World: Ask Polly's Guide to the Paradoxes on Modern Life (Doubleday; 2016), collects published and unpublished columns. Not known for reticence, Havrilesky might spend 3,000 words dispensing advice about whether to put off having a baby to have a career, or how to deal with an overbearing mother. This isn't just a straight repeat of Dear Sugar, Cheryl Strayed's famous (and also wordy) advice column in The Rumpus. It's an entirely new entity. Good stuff. Details here.
Sunday, July 24: Julie Barton at Book Passage, Corte Madera
Give me a book with an adorable dog on the cover, and I'll hand it right back to you. No thanks, I already have to live with the fact that I wasted two irretrievable hours on Marley and Me. But, upon noticing that Steve Almond, one of my favorite writers, had blurbed Julie Barton's new memoir, I decided to take a second look. Dog Medicine: How My Dog Saved Me From Myself is about Barton's struggle to recover from a complete mental breakdown while living in NYC. She returns home to Ohio, slipping further into clinical depression. Nothing seems to work, until she adopts a Golden Retriever puppy named Bunker. Five dollars says Reese Witherspoon is optioning the book as we speak. Details here.