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This month's literary events 

Wednesday, Nov 3 2010

Thursday, Nov. 4
It's astonishing how nimbly Anne Germanacos glides across presupposed boundaries — between dream and myth, between poetry and prose, between her own dueling provenances of ancient Aegean islands and the modern San Francisco peninsula. A gifted perceiver, Germanacos writes in a deceptively snapshotty style, gathering up fleeting yet multitudinous moments, laying them out in dazzling arrays. Her new collection, In the Time of the Girls (BOA Editions, $14), never sits still or bogs down. It's a kaleidoscope of stories within stories, gemlike shards. Here's one, from "Ovid Sings": "The Barbies had started it — in the way they'd rearranged their limbs in the night, offering themselves to her like a bright idea." Here's another, from "Caffeine": "Early morning thunderstorm. The clarity of the light makes you want to eat the sky." Germanacos reads at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole), S.F. 7:30 p.m., free; 863-8688,; and on Wednesday, Nov. 17, at Books Inc., 3515 California (at Locust), S.F. 7 p.m., free; 221-3666 or

Friday, Nov. 5
Early on in Armistead Maupin's Mary Ann in Autumn (HarperCollins, $26), his protagonist gets a quick and bracing assessment: "She was no more a San Franciscan now than the doughy woman in a SUPPORT OUR TROOPS sweatshirt climbing off the cable car at the intersection." Not that we quite buy it, of course. As any self-respecting devourer of Maupin's immortal Tales of the City series well understands, mainstay Mary Ann Singleton is such a part of this place by now that she's practically a piece of architecture. Of course that makes her sound old and gray, and she's getting there, but thanks to Maupin's reliably cheeky, cozy, compassionate tone, her company is as great as ever. All you need to know going in is that Mary Ann, having years ago decamped for a new life on the other coast, has cause to be back in town. Let the city take it from there. Maupin reads from and discusses his newest tale at Book Passage, 1 Ferry Building, Suite 42 (Market and Embarcadero), S.F. 12:30 p.m., free; 835-1020 or

Sunday, Nov. 7
Such is the extraordinary literary abundance of the Jewish Community Center's Bookfest 2010 that it may require this entire blurb just to get through the names of participants and their latest books. They include local luminaries such as Michael Krasny (Spiritual Envy: An Agnostic's Quest; New World Library, $23), Beth Lisick (Helping Me Help Myself; Harper, $14), Joyce Maynard (The Good Daughters; William Morrow, $25), Ayelet Waldman (Red Hook Road; Doubleday, $26), and international luminaries such as Sam Lipsyte (The Ask; FSG, $25), Yann Martel (Beatrice and Virgil: A Novel; Spiegel & Grau, $24), Gary Shteyngart (Super Sad Super True Love Story; Random House, $26). Not to mention Myla Goldberg (The False Friend; Doubleday $26), Ruth Franklin (A Thousand Darknesses: Lies & Truths in Holocaust Fiction; Oxford, $30), and, oy vey, see? We're out of space already! The point is: Get there, and hang out with all of them, and others, at the Jewish Community Center, 3200 California (at Presidio), S.F. 12: 30 p.m., $5-$7; 292-1200 or

Friday, Nov. 12
In case you've ever wondered whether it's possible to render an accessible page-turner of historical fiction from the basic building blocks of Heideggerian hermeneutics and the Holocaust, Thaisa Frank would be the person to ask. Not only has Frank actually gone and done it, with her novel Heidegger's Glasses (Counterpoint, $25), but she also has taught writing locally and coauthored a book about writing, which means she might even be able to explain her own literary feats. Find out tonight at the Literary Death Match at the Elbo Room, 647 Valencia (at Sycamore), S.F. 7 p.m., $7-$10; 552-7788 or; or Saturday, Nov. 13, at Book Passage, 1 Ferry Building, Suite 42 (Market and Embarcadero), S.F. 7 p.m., free; 835-1020 or

Wednesday, Nov. 17
The new book from poet, author, screenwriter, and local treasure Barry Gifford is called Sad Stories of the Death of Kings (Seven Stories, $17). It takes its name from a line in Shakespeare, and describes a fatherless teenager finding his way, or not, in chilly postwar Chicago. It contains occasional quickly sketched drawings of its characters, and is divided up into stories with titles like "The Sudden Demise of Sharkface Bensky," "The Starving Dogs of Little Croatia," and "Irredeemable," the last of which beginning thusly: "The Saturday afternoon that Roy and his friends heard about the fire at Our Lady of Abandoned and Irredeemable Boys, they were on their way to see a double feature at the Riviera." It is, in other words, deliciously Giffordesque, full of sudden and swift-passing flares of insight, as if lit from within by match flame. It is worth attending Gifford's reading at City Lights, 261 Columbus (at Broadway), S.F.. 7 p.m., free; 362-8193 or

About The Author

Jonathan Kiefer

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


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