I thought about starting this post with an earthquake joke -- something like "Did you feel that tremor? Litquake begins this week!" -- but, bad as that would have been on its own, it seemed in even worse taste considering recent events. Earthquakes around the world always seem to trigger gloomy prophecies of the "Big One" back in the Bay Area, so what better time to remind ourselves of all the reasons why we live in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, despite impending natural disaster. Reasons like...one heck of a literary festival!
Litquake is celebrating its 10th birthday with its most robust line-up to date -- more than 400 authors will be in town to participate in the festivities. If you've never been to Litquake before, here is the idea: for nine days -- beginning tomorrow and ending with the legendary LitCrawl on Saturday the 17th -- a slew of literary events take place everyday, all over the city. The line-up has something for everyone, whether you are into science fiction, poetry, noir, erotica, ortheater.Even if you've never read a book, and refuse to watch anything but reality TV, festival organizers haven't forgotten you either -- Top Chef Masters contestant John Besh and Project Runway winner Christian Siriano will be on hand to sign their new releases.
With almost 50 festival events scheduled all over the Bay Area, the Litquake schedule can be a little daunting at first glance. Here are some highlights to get you started.
The festival kicks off tonight with the Black, White, and Read Ball (a nod to Truman Capote's infamous fête) at the War Memorial Building, a sure bet for picking up nerdy, bookish types (try out the line: "If you were words on a page, you'd be what's called fine print" and let me know how it goes).
On Thursday, October 15th, check out the reading of Original Shorts at gallery/wine bar/art library Varnish Fine Art. Every year Litquake asks authors to compose a short story on a theme. "Survival of the Fittest" was this year's pick, in honor of Charles Darwin's 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species.
If you can only attend one event, head over to the Mission District on Saturday, October 17th (the 20th anniversary of the Loma Prieta quake) for LitCrawl. This event packs every bar, bookstore and coffee shop in the Mission for readings and discussions with authors, publishers and local literary organizations. So prodigious is the crawl, that its broken into three phases -- Phase One, from 6-7pm, will feature themes of food, transgressive lit, spirituality, and online writing; Phase Two from 7-8pm, promises a zombie-fest, smutty readings sponsored by Good Vibrations and the Center for Sex and Culture, and much more; Phase Three, 8-9pm, will showcase favorite selections from myriad local publications (Re/SEARCH, The Believer, McSweeney's, The San Francisco Chronicle to name a few), travel writers, and the Haiku Poets of Northern California. All that, AND the best street-food vendors in the city stationed in the neighborhood to feed the crawlers.
That's just to get you started! Oh, but there is so much more -- a roast of Amy Tan, a poetry reading in Grace Cathedral, a 'zine retrospective and panels for first-time authors looking to get published. Check out the full festival schedule for all the details.
Litquake X runs through October 17, 2009. For tickets and information visit litquake.org.