Friday, March 27
Nobody doesn't like Isabel Allende. Nobody literate, anyway. The cherished local novelist and memoirist will be the guest of honor for a "literary luncheon" today at the flagship Book Passage in Corte Madera. Allende will discuss her new memoir, The Sum of Our Days (Harper Collins, $26.95), which again grapples with the death of her daughter, Paula. This time Allende's approach is a wide-ranging, chatty yet profound conversation, framed as a way of getting Paula's spirit caught up on what's been going on in the family — or, as the writer sagely puts it, their "tribe." The ticket price covers food and a copy of the book. 51 Tamal Vista (at Sandpiper), Corte Madera. 12:30 p.m., $40; 927-0960 or www.bookpassage.com.
Tuesday, March 31
Never mind how many gunsels and pocket-edition desperados may have attempted stunts like this over the years; when you're slapped with a new prequel to Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon, you'll take it and like it. As you can see, it's hard to follow Hammett's example without sounding immediately cheesy. But if anyone can, it's Joe Gores, who previously wrote a novel called Hammett, won a literary prize called the Maltese Falcon Award, and was a San Francisco private investigator himself. So just what is the, uh, stuff prequels are made of? Find out when Gores reads from his new book, Spade and Archer (Knopf, $24), tonight.San Francisco Public Library, Main Branch, 100 Larkin (at Grove). 6:30 p.m., free; 557-4400 or www.sfpl.lib.ca.us.
Wednesday, April 1
With Kindle killing books and journalistic periodicals killing themselves, it's almost too easy to make curmudgeonly cracks about how nobody reads anymore, the damn whippersnappers. But for some members of the Noah Project, a ritual performance group, grumpy old personhood just isn't the ticket. If these fellows don't seem worried, maybe it's because reading isn't the only way to get your word on. There's speaking, for instance. Hence, the Second Annual World Poetry Night in the Oral Tradition, with recitations from memory of Rumi, Tennyson, Yeats, and many others. Hell, maybe you can even bust out a few lines of Shel Silverstein, real old-school–like. Mechanics' Institute, 57 Post (at Kearny). 7 p.m., free; 393-0101 or www.milibrary.org.
Tuesday, April 7
In local writer Nick Taylor's debut novel, The Disagreement (Simon and Schuster, $26), a University of Virginia med student finds himself torn between personal ambition and family obligation. You see, that university wasn't his first choice. Oh dear, you're thinking. It all sounds so very genteel! But wait. There's more. For example, the year is 1861, and the trouble to which the book's title refers is actually the American Civil War. Now it's getting interesting, eh? Taylor, a professor of English and comparative literature at San Jose State, reads from The Disagreement at Opera Plaza Books Inc. tonight. 601 Van Ness (at Turk). 7 p.m., free; 776-1111 or www.booksinc.net.
Wednesday, April 8
Yes, of course our fair city is, to its core, a bastion of tolerance and political progressivism and community-mindedness — with, oh, perhaps just a modicum of ribaldry thrown in for good measure. Who would dare dispute it? Well, San Francisco has come a long way, as local historian Rand Richards reminds us in his new book, Mud, Blood and Gold: San Francisco in 1849 (Great West, $25.95). In a careful reconstruction of that crucial formative year, he burrows deep into the San Francisco soul. We built this city on ... well, insanely selfish greed, really. Richards will read from and discuss the book at Book Passage tonight. 1 Ferry Building, #42 (Market and Embarcadero). 6 p.m., free; 835-1020 or www.bookpassage.com.