Thursday, June 3
Local travel writer Laura Fraser's new book, All Over the Map (Harmony, $24), is a sequel of sorts to her 2001 memoir, An Italian Affair; it's also an account, as she puts it, of "what happens in midlife when things don't exactly go as planned." In Fraser's case, that involves much exotic world travel, but also some confusion — between settling down and becoming unsettled. "All Over the Map makes you want to pack your bags, explore the world, mend your broken heart, and totally reclaim your life," blurbs Eat, Pray, Love's Elizabeth Gilbert, who of course would know, but may not realize that just being alive also tends to make you want to do those things. Fraser, for her part, has given them careful consideration. She reads from, discusses, and signs her book tonight at 7:30 at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole), S.F. (863-8688, www.booksmith.com), and again at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 22, at the San Francisco Public Library Main Branch, 100 Larkin (at Grove), S.F. (557-4400, www.sfpl.org). Both events are free.
Tuesday, June 8
Now that it seems like everything Elizabeth Bishop ever wrote — including notes to self, grocery lists, and, oh yes, some of the best poems of the 20th century —has been packaged and published ad infinitum, is it fair to ask what more we can get out of her? Oakland writer Michael Sledge believes so, and has bravely written a fictionalized version of the poet's life in his debut novel, The More I Owe You (Counterpoint, $16), an eloquent appeal to our abiding hope of more intimately knowing how great minds (and hearts) work. Sledge situates the poet in Rio de Janeiro in the 1950s, where a two-week vacation became a two-decade love affair with architect and socialite Lota de Macedo Soares, and where the "immodest demands for a different world" of which Bishop wrote were resoundingly answered. Sledge reads from and discusses his book at the Laurel Village branch of Books, Inc., 3515 California (at Locust), S.F. 7 p.m., free; 221-3666 or www.booksinc.net.
Monday, June 14
What this town needs is a new magazine! No? Oh, right: That's thinking too small. What this whole region needs is a new magazine. Maybe you should start one. But don't call it California Northern, because that name is already taken, by a new biannual magazine called California Northern — the founders of which, your fellow rah-rah regionalists, want to celebrate their inaugural issue tonight with readings, a photo-essay slideshow, and a reception. Talking-point topics of local interest presumably will range from moonbeam governors to sunbeam power plants. Not to mention the viability of new magazine ventures in the current economy — and, relatedly, the apparent insatiability of their readers and creators. On the evening's roster so far are art director Paul Barrett, photographer Kate Sawyer, executive editor Richard Mills, contributing writer Matt Gleeson, and the top dog of the whole operation, former Beyond Chron managing editor Casey Mills. Congratulate them on their big thinking at City Lights, 261 Columbus (at Broadway), S.F. 7 p.m., free; 362-8193 or www.citylights.com.
Tuesday, June 22
Let this sentence reflect how hard it is to go even 25 words without mentioning the fact that Vendela Vida is married to Dave Eggers. Now, with that out of the way, it can be pointed out that she is also a parent, teacher, journalist, screenwriter, and literary magazine editor. She's also the author of several novels, including a brand-new one called The Lovers (Ecco, $24), about an American widow who travels alone to the Turkish city in which she honeymooned, and while there comes to terms with her past. Tonight's release party for the book will be free, but proceeds, should there be any, will benefit the 826 Valencia writing center — which, by the way, Vida cofounded. Opera Plaza Books Inc., 601 Van Ness (at Turk), S.F. 7 p.m.; 776-1111 or www.booksinc.net.