It was a dark and stormy day in San Francisco, and weather that is, undeniably, frightful might keep even the most dedicated Litquake fans from their appointed rounds. If you can round up a pair of rain boots and a sturdy umbrella, though, tonight is full of great events that will keep your brain buzzing and your toes toasty.
Mary Roach's Stiff is a perfect rainy-day book: a creepy and oddball, yet cheerfully written guide to the many ways scientists have studied and used human cadavers. She's also written books on the relationship between science and sex, and attempts to prove the existence of an afterlife. Her reading should be full of interesting tidbits to share at the water cooler-- and who knows, maybe the weather is a little better down in San Jose. (7 pm at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, Room 225-229, 150 E. San Fernando St., San Jose. Admission is free.)
If you're interested in science but don't want to trek out to San Jose for Roach, there's another science-meets-literature event here in the city. Where the Mind Meets the Brain is a panel discussion focusing on the relationship between the body and mind and the definition of awareness, with some seriously interesting guests: Paul Ekman, whose research as a psychologist is the basis for Fox's hit Lie to Me; Robert Burton, neuroscientist and "Mind Reader" columnist for Salon, philosopher Alva Noe, and novelist Joe Quirk. (6 pm at Mechanics Institute Library, 57 Post St. Litquake subscribers and MIL members free; all others should call (415) 393-0101 to reserve a $12 ticket.)
Readers who've been keeping up with One City One Book selection Alive in Necropolis are in for a treat tonight: author Doug Dorst will speak about the neo-detective story set in Colma, and FoolsFURY Theater Company will do a staged reading from the book. Questions and a signing follow the event. (6 pm at San Francisco Main Library, Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin St. Admission is free.)
If you're looking like a hot tranny mess after a day in the rain, Project Runway winner Christian Siriano will help clean you up: his new lifestyle guide, Fierce Style, is full of fashion and beauty tips for even the most fabulousness-challenged. (7 pm at Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera. Admission is free.)
The National Book Critics Circle is making translation personal, with a panel on how literature in translation helps to make sense of the world-- and how it might change in an increasingly globalized society. The Collapsing Borders event features McSweeney's publisher Oscar Villalon and former Entertainment Weekly book critic Jennifer Reese, among others. (7 pm at City Lights Bookstore, 261 Columbus Ave. Admission is free.)
And finally, if you're looking for a real challenge to your literary smarts, Dreaming Awake will explore the legacy of James Joyce's famously impenetrable Finnegan's Wake, and its role as a precursor to experimental and political cinema. Film clips will be shown, and humorist Merle Kessler will do a reading. (7:30 pm at Delancey Street Screening Room, 600 Embarcadero St. Admission is $10 for SF Cinematheque members and $15 for non-members.)