Every year writers flock from near and far to the Bay in October for Litquake. You may notice them in your favorite coffee shops, restaurants, and definitely in your bookstores. This year the festival is featuring 850 writers over the course of a week, so remember Litquake is really an exercise in endurance. Pace yourself, drink enough liquids, and remember that Litcrawl is just around the corner.
Death and Dying (Saturday, Oct 12, 11am, Hotel Rex, SF)
Okay, 11 am may be too early to think about death and dying, but when else are you going hear Lewis L. Lapham discuss gallows humor, the will to live, and the fear of dying with John Crowley (whose work Harold Bloom called "a neglected masterpiece")? Lapham is just a pleasure to listen to. He is really one of the most erudite men alive today. Bring all your existential questions!Also on the panel: Jeff Sharlet and the editors of Lapham's Quarterly.
And as long as you're at the Hotel Rex, you might as well soothe your concerns about dying by staying for the Poetic License reading at 12:30pm, featuring Stegner fellows and Atsuro Riley, whose first book of poems won a Whiting Writer's Award.
Yokohama Threeway: Beth Lisick (Sunday, Oct 13, 4pm, Edinburgh Castle, SF)
I have been a fan of every book in City Light's new imprint series Sister Spit, edited by Michelle Tea. The newest in the series is a mordant, quick-witted book by Beth Lisick titled Yokohama Threeway and Other Small Shames. I can't think of a better way to spend your Sunday than with a drink in hand while listening to Beth Lisick in conversation with Alan Black, whose Glasgow accent, I hear, is enchanting.
Sometimes It's Hard to Be a Writer: Stories about Doubt, Debt, Drugs, and Determination (Monday, Oct 14, 8pm, Verdi Club, SF)
Mondays are hard, but end your day with this special Litquake edition of the Porchlight Series, because listening to writerly tales of doubt and failure and determination will no doubt (a) leave you feeling better about yourself and (b) inspire you. Featuring the New York Times best-selling author Jamie Ford, Sandra Tsing Loh of NPR's Morning Edition and This American Life, Jerry Stahl, Carrie Galbraith, John Vanderslice, and Kent and Keith Zimmerman.
2013 Poetry World Series: Litquake Edition (Tuesday, Oct 15, 6pm, The Make Out Room, SF)
This is probably the most sport-like a reading will get. If you are a fan of baseball, head over for this fast-paced reading where teams of award-winning poets take on topics pitched by the audience. The judges include Susan Orlean, Cristina Garcia, and Troy Jollimore. Who will take the series title? Comedian Will Durst will emcee.
In Conversation: ZZ Packer and Sarah Ladipo Manyika (Thursday, Oct 17, 6:30pm, Museum of the African Diaspora, SF)
If you haven't read ZZ Packer's Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, this is your chance to get acquainted with this talented and assured writer. Her new novel, Thousands, was excerpted a few years ago in The New Yorker's "20 Under 40" Fiction Issue, and Packer will read some more from it this night. I am personally thrilled.
Friday, you have a hard choice to make. For one, there is Mary Gaitskill at CCA (Friday, Oct 18, 7pm, CCA, SF), and then there is Gum-Chewing Angel: An Evening With T.C. Boyle (Friday, Oct. 18, 8pm, Z Space, SF). Gaitskill is the writer of the stunning short story collection Bad Behavior -- one story of which was adapted into the film Secretary. Gaitskill has a perturbing eye for detail and an incisive style. I might choose to go see T.C. Boyle, in the off-chance he reads from my favorite short story, The Night of the Satellite, published in The New Yorker. Then again, I might just flip a coin.
Words on the Waves (Saturday, Oct 19, 1-5pm, Private Houseboat Pier, Sausalito)
Make sure you get your tickets early for this popular event at Sausalito's Pier, where you get to spend an hour or so listening to stories while in a boat. At 1pm get on Boat 3 for "Tales of the Deep" (featuring the fantastic Laurel Braitman and the amazing Jon Mooallem, author of Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America) to hear about such intriguing topics as sea lion suicide and wayward whales. At 2pm head to Boat 34 for Six-word Memoirs: Loose Lips Sink Ships, featuring Piper Kerman (of Orange is the New Black), Joe Loya, and Joyce Maynard. Bring your own six-word memoir, too! Emceed by Larry Smith. Then at 3pm, head over to common area for readings by Phil Bronstein (who was once almost seduced by Imelda Marcos) and Joyce Maynard (who is most known for her memoir about her relationship with J.D. Salinger) and enjoy the paella party at the dock.
Litquake runs October 11-19, 2013 at various Bay Area locations. For tickets and information, visit litquake.org.