Reading Roundup: This Week's Top Literary Events


Each week, we offer a roundup of the best literary events in the city. All events are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted. Want to submit an upcoming event for consideration? Go here.

Geoff Dyer (Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room)

Wednesday, March 14, 7 pm, at Tosca (242 Columbus Ave.)

Litquake only comes once a year, but the folks behind the festival are looking to spread the wealth with a new monthly series at historic Tosca, which will generally take place the last Tuesday of each month. This month, however, brings a bonus round: noted British essayist and novelist Geoff Dyer, whose latest work is a book-length analysis of Andrei Tarkovsky's 1979 film Stalker. The space is limited to 75 folks and will fill up, so get there early; if you can't make this event, Adam Johnson will also read on the 27th.

Ben Hellwarth (Sealab: America's Forgotten Quest to Live and Work on the Ocean Floor)

Friday, March 16, 7 pm, at Books Inc. Berkeley (1760 4th St.)

Saturday, March 17, 1 pm, at Book Passage Corte Madera (51 Tamal Vista Blvd.)

In the midst of the 1960s space race, the U.S. had its sights on not only the moon, but the ocean floor as well. Though divers at the time had strict depth limits and could stay underwater for only minutes, the Navy pushed forward, exploring exactly how deep and how long they could stay underwater. The results have inspired both explorers like Jacques Cousteau and the professional divers that now work on oil rigs, even as the program was neglected by the government and eventually ended in tragedy. The first book from longtime Bay Area reporter Hellwarth (who now lives in Pennsylvania), Sealab is equal parts historical record and gripping thriller.

Jennifer duBois (A Partial History of Lost Causes)

Tuesday, March 20, 7:30 pm, at The Booksmith (1644 Haight St.)

Booksmith is hosting the launch event for the first novel from Stegner alumna and current Stanford teacher duBois, which is already garnering praise for its 28-year-old scribe. The book intertwines the stories of Irina Ellison, a professor dealing with the onset of the Huntington's disease that killed her father, and Aleksandr Bezetov, a Russian chess champion who decides to launch a doomed presidential campaign against Vladimir Putin. Faced with equally lost causes, the pair become linked by a long-lost letter written to Bezetov by Ellison's father.

Jeanette Winterson (Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?)

Saturday, March 17, 7 pm, at Book Passage Corte Madera (51 Tamal Vista Blvd.)

Popular novelist Winterson (above) has made her first entry into the world of memoir. Her new book focuses on her strict religious upbringing in an adoptive family (a theme also explored in her autobiographical Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit), and explores how she survived abuse to put herself through Oxford University and seek happiness. Universally acclaimed in the U.K., Why Be Happy is now making its first appearance Stateside.

And a bonus event (literature meets dinner):

Litquake Fundraiser at Jardinière

Monday, March 19, 5-10 pm, at Jardinière (300 Grove St.)

If you're a fan of Litquake and want to support the festival, consider dining at Jardinière next Monday, when the restaurant will serve a three-course repast inspired by the recipes of storied food writer M.F.K. Fisher. The $59 menu includes beef tartare, quail a la financière, and ambrosia, with wine pairings, and $10 from each meal sold will go directly to Litquake. (A vegetarian menu is also available.) The Litquake staff will also announce the winner of the 2012 Barbary Coast Award: Poetry Flash, the Bay Area-based literary journal that's been promoting local writers since 1972.

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