When the bells clang on a typical morning, most of the passengers aboard San Francisco's historic cable cars are sightseeing. Beginning this Saturday, the city's first mode of public transportation will also be the setting of Jim Nelson's first book, Everywhere Man. As the third installation of Invisible City Audio Tours -- a non-profit that invites local authors to create fictional accounts of urban landscapes and their histories -- Everywhere Man is a story about the world around us and the different ways we perceive it.
Responsible for creating a digital tour of San Francisco, a group of computer programmers discovers a stranger who appears in millions of tourist photographs taken around San Francisco and posted onto the Internet. "Everywhere Man," as he comes to be known, is visible in the background of photos taken over years and across the city's landscape. But he has never been identified.
Is he real? What looms in the corners of even our most-captured vistas? The story unfolds aboard the cable cars, as tour participants listen to a downloadable audio album mixed with original musical compositions and follow a map that blurs the real with the fictional. The search continues along Fisherman's Wharf and Ghirardelli Square and ends at the Cable Car Museum, where the machinery of the cars and cables are revealed along with the identity of Everywhere Man.
A full-time computer programmer with both a BA and an MFA in Creative Writing, Nelson manages to merge two seemingly disparate worlds: the hard science of code and the creativity of fiction. The result is a fantastic story rendered unusually real. Watch a sneak preview:
Here's how it works: Pre-order the book, which includes the map, for $15 (or purchase during or after the launch for $19.95). Download the audio tour. Meet at the Powell Street cable car turntable (at Market Street). The tour can be taken at any time, but the launch begins at 10am on Saturday, Oct 15. Take the tour. Depending on wait-time, the 55-minute tour will take approximately 1.5 to 2 hours. Attend the Tour of Tours (Saturday, October 15, 7:15pm, Clarion Alley, San Francisco) -- a Litquake reading by contributors to each of the Invisible City Audio Tours, including Jim Nelson reading from Everywhere Man.
Read a full interview with Jim about his fascination with the cable cars, his relationship with Invisible City, and the origins of Everywhere Man.
Everywhere Man launches Saturday, October 15, 2011, 10am at the intersection of Powell and Market Streets in San Francisco. For more information on both the tour and the reading, visit invisiblecityaudiotours.org.