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October Book Events: October Book Swap, Barbara Rose Brooker, Tamim Ansary, John Freeman & R. Crumb 

Wednesday, Oct 7 2009

Friday, Oct. 9
So maybe you went hog wild at that ginormous Fort Mason benefit book sale last month for the San Francisco Public Library, and now you need to clear some shelf space. Or maybe you think books are like mutual funds: It's all about the asset allocation. Maybe you've got a new — or old — favorite you want to share. That's what the Booksmith's October Book Swap is for. Literary fiction is the theme, and local author Michelle Richmond (No One You Know, The Year of Fog) is the evening's special guest. Wise discourse, hilarious anecdotes, and delicious reverie are promised. Also: books. 6:30 p.m. at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole); 863-8688 or The necessary $25 advance tickets, which help pay for the wine and cheese, are available in the store and at

Monday, Oct. 19
Even with Nikki Sixx's Heroin Diaries, Stephen Elliott's Adderall Diaries, and my own forthcoming Flintstones Vitamins Diaries (just you wait) on the scene, the topsy-turvy pharmacological reminiscence subgenre of literature still has room for Barbara Rose Brooker's Viagra Diaries (Llumina Press, $20). It's a novel about an aging San Francisco columnist doing research on the mating habits of fogeys. It's worth noting that Brooker didn't publish her first novel until she was 50, and apparently got pretty busy, as it were, after that. Hear all about it at 4:45 p.m. at the Commonwealth Club of California, 595 Market (at Second St.); 597-6700 or This event is free for Commonwealth Club members, $15 for everyone else.

Wednesday, Oct. 21
For the past decade, Tamim Ansary has been cultivating his gift for showing us the world we need to see. He's the local Afghan-American writer (and San Francisco Writers Workshop director) whose eloquent e-mail response to 9/11 went viral and became the book West of Kabul, East of New York. Later, he wrote Destiny Disrupted: a History of the World Through Islamic Eyes. His most recent book, The Widow's Husband (Vox Novus, $17), is a historical novel set in 19th-century Afghanistan, just after the British occupation of Kabul. Ansary will discuss and read from it starting at 7:30 p.m. Back you go to the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole); 863-8688 or

Wednesday, Oct. 28
As his new book's subtitle, The Four-Thousand-Year Journey to Your Inbox, implies, John Freeman has written a history of human correspondence. That journey has been a long one, but it has delivered us to a place of ultimate convenience and absolute efficiency. It has also apparently cost us our thoughtfulness, eloquence, social skills, and freedom from constant interruption. That's why the title of his book is The Tyranny of E-Mail (Scribner, $25). Freeman, the prolific book critic and former president of the National Book Critics Circle, will discuss it at 7 p.m. at City Lights, 261 Columbus (at Broadway); 362-8193 or

Saturday, Oct. 31
The Book of Genesis illustrated by R. Crumb may sound like some oft-quoted zinger from a vintage Woody Allen movie, but it's a real book (Norton, $25), in which the creepy grandfather of underground comics, finally appreciated as the genius he is, explains the first book of the Bible word for word and — oh yes — image for image. Haven't you ever wondered what the artist who once roamed our city drawing portraits of its downtrodden and complaining about the "walking advertisements" on Market Street might make of, say, Sodom and Gomorrah? He'll show you, and New Yorker art editor Françoise Mouly, in a conversation at 8 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center, 3200 California (at Presidio); 292-1200 or Admission is $30-$50, with no one under 18 admitted, and a four-ticket maximum per person.

About The Author

Jonathan Kiefer

SF Weekly movie critic Jonathan Kiefer is on Twitter: @kieferama and of course @sfweeklyfilm.


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