Wednesday, July 27: Get Lit at Corkscrew Wine Bar, Petaluma
Daniel Riddle Rodriguez has said that he writes about the “gritty things” of life: sex work, petty crime, drug abuse and more. Just take a look at his short story “Lemonade,” which ran in Prairie Schooner and is narrated by a Demerol-swigging narrator who’s tasked with looking after his very old grandmother. Like the writing of Riddle Rodriguez’s literary hero Amy Hempel, the story is built of swift, tight sentences and lots of juicy subtext. Another story, “Even the Ostrich,” which was published at Gulf Stream, has a bang-up opening sentence that dares you not to keep reading.
So I was sitting on the front porch, chewing on my nail beds, thinking about nothing, when black Kelly from up the street asked did I want to flirt with crime.
Rodriguez lives in San Lorenzo, but he’ll make the trek up to Petaluma to read at this month’s Get Lit alongside fellow Bay Area writers Hilary Zaid and Michelle Cruz Gonzales; the former wrote The Spitboy Rule, which I reviewed earlier this year. Details here.
Thursday, July 28: Evan Ratliff in conversation with Jennifer Kahn at the Alamo Drafthouse, SF
I’m a big fan of Evan Ratliff. And not just because he’s cute, wears cool shoes, and loves cats. For one, he’s a co-host of the Longform Podcast, which has allowed me to nerd out on meandering conversations about the nuts-and-bolts of feature journalism with the likes of Kathryn Schulz, Mac McClelland, and Margo Jefferson. Secondly, as founder of The Atavist Magazine, he ushered in a new era of digital long-form journalism – at a time when most argued that bite-sized nuggets were all that readers could handle. Five years and 50 issues later, there’s no denying that the internet can support (with readers if not dollars) The Atavist’s uniquely designed storytelling. The online magazine has been nominated for eight National Magazine Awards — and was the first all-digital publication to win in feature writing, for “Love and Ruin” by James Verini, a story of romance and dedication in Afghanistan. A new print anthology Love and Ruin: Stories of Obsession, Danger, and Heartbreak from The Atavist Magazine, edited by Ratliff, collects 10 of the best stories to date. The anthology is worth the purchase price alone for Leslie Jamison’s “52 Blue,” in which we learn about the loneliest whale in the world and the significance of 52 hertz. The rest of the stories aren’t so bad either. Details here.