Wednesday, July 7
Let's judge local writer Suzanne Rivecca's book by its cover, which depicts a young person's arm reaching toward the face of a tiger. Tense. The book, a collection of stories, goes by the name Death Is Not an Option (W.W. Norton, $24), so maybe that's a relief. Then again, there's a moment in "None of the Above" where one character tells another, "I'm just going to walk over there and pet the tiger. Okay? I just want to pet him. That's all I'm going to do." So the tension returns. And that's how it goes with Rivecca, whose prose won't ever quite let us relax, on account of always reaching for the tiger. A new arrival from the long line of promising fictioneers who've emerged from Stanford's Wallace Stegner Fellowship, she so far seems to have a knack for stories of clever, pained, reflective young women. If she's not careful, or maybe if she is, she'll be anointed as heir to the Mary Gaitskill legacy of female frankness. Tonight, for starters, she'll read from and discuss her work at City Lights, 261 Columbus (at Broadway), S.F. 7 p.m., free; 362-8193 or www.citylights.com.
Monday, July 12
As we have learned from whoever first said it and from everybody else who has since repeated it, there is more than one way to skin a cat. And as we have learned from the movie Rashomon, there is more than one way to tell a crime story. It probably makes sense that any species so persistently interested in the torture of lesser species, no matter how fluffy and adorable, would also seem not to tire of crime stories. Consider the story of Hans Reiser, that Oakland computer genius who, not long ago, became a local and national media magnet after murdering his beautiful Russian bride. Even after reading about the Reiser case in the newspapers, and reading about it again in Stephen Elliott's memoir, The Adderall Diaries, you still might feel inclined to peruse Chronicle crime reporter Henry Lee's new book, Presumed Dead: A True Life Murder Mystery (Berkley, $8), perhaps in a comfy chair with a cat on your lap. Or perhaps it would be safer, from the cat's perspective, to meet Lee and hear him read it himself tonight at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole), S.F. 7:30 p.m, free; 863-8688 or www.booksmith.com.
Thursday, July 15
For the next six months, SFMOMA will be putting out a series of maps. July's is labeled "Monarchs and Queens," because it has to do with what the museum officially describes as "the parallels between local butterfly habitats and the queer public space." Now, if that sounds like the most cockamamie curatorial contrivance you've ever heard, you may need to get out more. If it sounds like genius, you may need to pre-order local investigative essayist Rebecca Solnit's newest book, Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas (University of California Press, $25), from which this inventive live-art happening was derived. If anyone is qualified to investigate the aforementioned parallels in an artful, erudite way, it has to be the author of A Field Guide to Getting Lost; Wanderlust: A History of Walking; and Hollow City: Gentrification and the Crisis of American Urbanism (among many others). Solnit gathered various writers and artists to collaborate on the new book, which will be released in November, but of course the book is just the beginning. Or maybe the ending? Or an interesting middle layer? Anyway, what should be a riot of infographic novelty, cartographic history, and literary chops begins today at SFMOMA, 151 Third St. (at Mission), S.F. Free with museum admission; 357-4000 or www.sfmoma.org.
Friday, July 16
You imagine the editorial staff at Poets and Writers shrieking with joy when they first discovered James Kaelan. Somehow, at long last, after all those years of turtlenecks and spectacles and genteel writerly repose, they'd landed themselves a tattooed, bare-chested fixie-riding hipster of a cover boy. That Kaelan's book, We're Getting On (Flatmancrooked, $20), is a novel about young people living off the grid in the Nevada desert is one thing. That its cover is made from seed paper, so you can plant it in the ground and possibly grow a spruce tree from it, is something else. That Kaelan's Zero Emission Book Tour, by which he'll be biking up the West Coast and carefully offsetting his carbon footprint with readings and, yes, plantings, is just too much to ask for. That's right: No phones, no computers, no sleeping indoors — and no shortage of publicity! Kaelan has been hoping his tour will eventually get him booked on The Colbert Report. But times obviously are changing, and paradigms are shifting. Hell, after that Poets and Writers plug, maybe he's too cool for Colbert. Meet Kaelan at the Zero Emission Book Tour's San Francisco stop tonight at Green Apple Books, 506 Clement (at Sixth Ave.). 6 p.m., free; 387-2272 or www.greenapplebooks.com.