Your Week in Readings, our weekly column highlighting one amazing event per day, is moving to Wednesdays. But we don't want to leave you without events for two days, so here's a special supplementary listing for today:
Once you get the practice down, most writers will tell you, writing is easy. It's the revising that's tough. When you understand that fact, it's really kind of surprising that aspiring authors spend so much money on how-to-write classes, when it's the revision classes that ought to be their focus.
Tonight, the Hugo House is hosting a rare revision-focused event titled Marginalia. Seattle author Adrianne Harun and Seattle screenwriter and author Ramon Isao will join novelist Dana Spiotta to discuss the act of revision — what works, what doesn't, and why it's so damned important.
These are three writers at very different places in their careers — Spiotta publishes regularly and teaches writing at Syracuse; Harun is just getting started as a novelist but has also published a short story collection; and Isao has been published in literary journals including Hobart and the Iowa Review. They presumably each have very different revising techniques and philosophies, so between the three of them, you're very likely to find someone whose idea of revision speaks to you.
It's free! Go learn.
Your Week in Readings, our weekly column highlighting one amazing event per day, is moving to Wednesdays. But we don't want to leave you without events for two days, so here's a special supplementary listing for today:
Really, who doesn't stare out at Mount Rainier every once in a while with a sense of foreboding? After all, the eruption of Mount St. Helens is recent enough — in geological terms, it's barely been a matter of seconds — that we all understand what happens when a mountain decides to blow its metaphorical and literal top.
Seattle writer Steve Olson's brand-new book, Eruption: The Untold Story of Mount St. Helens is a historical account of the biggest volcanic eruption we've seen in decades. Olson discusses the geology of the eruption, of course, but he also looks deeply at the people affected by Mount St. Helens: the 57 people who died, the economic reasons why certain people were affected more than others, the choices businesses made before and after the eruption, the history of humanity's relationship with the area.
Tonight, Olson will be in discussion with Steve Scher at Town Hall. Tickets are $5. You should go.
MONDAY Your week starts at Town Hall with science journalist Sonia Shah. Her new book Pandemic examines the possibility of infectious disease destroying human civilization by examining the many times cholera has broken out over the last two centuries. Cholera has killed hundreds of millions of human beings. Which, you know, is depressing. But important!
TUESDAY We’re starting this day off by pointing out that Timothy Egan debuts his new book, Meagher, From Irish Immigrant to Hero, at Town Hall. Egan is one of Seattle’s heavyweights, and this is sure to be a huge reading. But we also like the smaller events, and Hugo House’s second Ask the Oracle reading at the Sorrento Hotel sounds like a very fun time. Three authors read works in response to audience questions, and the whole event is disguised as a fortune-telling experience. Today’s readers are New York poet Roberto Ascalon, Seattle novelist Megan Kruse (author of the excellent Call Me Home), and Seattle poet Imani Sims. Honestly, you could go to either of these events and have a lot of fun.
WEDNESDAY Up in Third Place Books Lake Forest Park Kathryn Aalto reads from her book The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh, which examines the story behind A.A. Milne’s childrens’ books through drawings, photographs, and biographical details. If you’re into behind-the-scenes material, you’ll love this one.
THURSDAY Elliott Bay Book Company hosts Sri Lankan author Nayomi Munaweera, whose new novel What Lies Between Us explores “the bonds between women, the lifelong impact of trauma, and feminism's last taboo.”
FRIDAY It’s back to Elliott Bay Book Company with you for professor emeritus at the University of Washington Colleen J. McElroy, who will read from her newest book of poems, Blood Memory. McElroy really ought to get more credit as a towering figure in Seattle poetry; she’s been an involved member of the community for decades, and her poetry might just knock your (metaphorical) socks off.
SATURDAY The third Rainier Valley Lit Crawl happens tonight, rain or shine. Tonight’s Crawl runs from Spinnaker Bay Brewing to Big Chickie to The Collaboratory to Union Bar, and it features writers including Paul E. LaPier, Kathryn Burgomaster, EJ Koh, Philip Randolph, Faiza Sultan, Becca HallJed Myers, and Mary Crane. I bet you’ve never attended a poetry reading in a Peruvian-style chicken restaurant, have you? Tonight’s your big chance. It’s free. What do yo uhave to lose?
SUNDAY As with most of our weeks recently, our week ends tonight at The Monorail Reading Series at Fred Wildlife Refuge. Tonight’s poets are all reportedly pioneers in one way or another, including new-to-Seattle poet Michael Harper, Portland author and Octopus Books assistant editor Hajara Quinn, and Copper Canyon poet Natalie Shapero. Pioneering or not, this seems like a stellar lineup of local and visiting poets. Plus: booze! What’s not to love?
MONDAY Kick your week off right, with the very first “Ask the Oracle” event at the Sorrento Hotel. This is a new fortune-telling themed reading series from the Hugo House, and it’s got a great gimmick: audience members anonymously ask questions about their futures. The authors find answers to those questions in their books. Hugo House supplied a sample Q&A in the promotional materials:
Question: Should I move to a new city soon?
Answer (found by opening Richard Hugo’s Triggering Town to a random page ): “The 1944 Italy I remembered brown and gray and lifeless. Every city, every small town reeked.”
The readers/fortune tellers at this one are novelist Rebecca Makkai, screenwriter and novelist Ramon Isao, and local treasure/short story author Stacey Levine. Levine practically does divination in her readings on a regular basis anyway, so she’s an especially good choice to kick off the new format.
TUESDAY Hugo House hosts an event titled “Passing the Laurel.” It’s a reading that passes the symbolic baton from former Washington State Poet Laureate Elizabeth Austen to current Washington State Poet Laureate Tod Marshall, with former Washington State Poet Laureate Kathleen Flenniken hosting. That’s a lot of damn laureates.
WEDNESDAY At The Book Larder in Fremont, Jesse and Kit Schumann of fancy Seattle bakery Sea Wolf Bakers teach how to make their rye bread, which is reportedly life-changingly good. According to the Larder, class size “is limited to 10 students and [the $65 entry fee] includes a light snack, bread samples, and bread and sourdough starter to take home.”
THURSDAY Tonight, author Yann Martel reads at the central branch of the Seattle Public Library downtown. I am not a fan of Martel’s Man Booker Prizewinning novel The Life of Pi; I think it’s a book that tries way too hard to prove its cleverness to its readers. But it is beloved by many people, and if you are one of those people, you should consider coming to this reading from The High Mountains of Portugal, which is a novel told in three novellas.
FRIDAY It’s time for the Hugo Literary Series at the Hugo House. As with all the Literary Series events this year, three authors and a musician write new work in response to a cliché. Tonight’s cliché is “What goes around comes around.” Your readers are poet D. A. Powell, excellent novelist/Believer magazine co-founder Heidi Julavits, and fantastic poet Sierra Nelson. Your musician tonight — and this is very exciting — is OCnotes. Here’s a video of Notes at work:
SATURDAY Here’s a neat-sounding event for women only: Read and Bleed at Twilight Gallery in West Seattle. It’s a period-themed reading event for women. The poster promises that this event is for ““Different vagendas, one cliterati.” In the organizers’ own words, here’s what’s going on:
Who: WOMEN ONLY (Women-Identified ok)
Breastfeeding moms are welcome too.
What: A Space Devoted To Self-Care (Read and be Read To)
When: The Day Before Valentine's
Where: Twilight Gallery in West Seattle
Bring your favorite book, pillow, and blankie
Dress-code: Super Casual, as in PJs, sweats, yoga pants, fuzzy socks ... the kind of attire you wear when bleeding.
FREE WINE & CHOCOLATE.
SUNDAY Spend your Valentine’s Day with UW professor of wildlife science John Marzluff, who reads at the Everett Public Library. His book Suburdia is about why suburbia has become home to diverse animal species, and how humans are supposed to share space with wildlife in the years ahead.
MONDAY Let’s start our week off with one of the last Works in Progress open mic nights at the Hugo House in its current location. Works in Progress has been going on for years now, and it will undoubtedly stick with Hugo House in their temporary location on First Hill, but there is a certain kind of magic to the Hugo House cabaret space right now, as awkward as it can be when there’s a full house. There have been a lot of readers on this stage, and this is one of your last chances to get up there and give it a shot. Why not?
TUESDAY It’s time for Salon of Shame at the Cornish Playhouse in Seattle Center. The Salon, in case you didn’t know, is an ongoing reading series where people read their awkward teenage writing aloud. It’s cringe-y and funny and kind of empowering, in that it reminds you that you have evolved beyond your teenage self, even if you essentially feel the same inside.
WEDNESDAY This is the big event of the week: Eli Sanders and Jennifer Hopper appear in conversation with with Marcie Sillman at Town Hall. Sanders’s long-awaited book about the South Park home invasion case, While the City Slept, is finally published on Tuesday of this week, and this is an event to commemorate the book’s release. We’ll have more to say about this book in the next few days, but you should absolutely read it. It’s beautiful and sad and a brilliant piece of journalism.
Across town, I’ll be at the taping of Civic Cocktail, which is a local-interest TV show hosted by Joni Balter. Steve Scher and I will be interviewing local treasure Nancy Pearl. Four of Seattle’s city councilmembers will be there, too, to discuss the new woman-majority council. You can register for that here.
THURSDAY Head back to Town Hall tonight for Ted Rall, who is reading from his cartoon biography of Bernie Sanders. I interviewed Rall last year when he came to town with his biography of Edward Snowden, and he’s a passionate, knowledgeable interviewee. If you have questions about Senator Sanders, this might be the place to get ‘em answered.
FRIDAY Elliott Bay Book Company hosts Anastacia Tolbert, who will be reading with Storme Webber and a touring program of Cave Canem fellows including Kamilah Aishah Moon and Librecht Baker. Cave Canem, if you didn’t know, is an organization that promotes and cultivates the work and careers of African-American poets. Every time they come to town, they blow audiences away.
SATURDAY Write Here Write Now happens at Fremont Abbey today. This one is for the authors: press materials promise a “one-day writing intensive like any other,” with an array of “mini-lessons, 1-on-1 author consultations, and lots of writing time with fellow writers.” This year’s keynote will be delivered by novelist Nancy Horan.
SUNDAY Seattle historian Paul Dorpat will discuss the life and legacy of Seattle restaurateur and personality Ivar Haglund at the West Seattle branch of Seattle Public Library. Dorpat has some rare photographs of Haglund and will talk about the clam guy’s West Seattle roots.
MONDAY What better way to kick off your week than a brainy talk about aspirational science? Head to Town Hall Seattle for Oliver Morton, reading from his new book, The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World. It’s about how “an increasing number of climate scientists are advocating for more proactive human intervention in the biosphere,” which can mean anything “from cultivating photosynthetic plankton to seeding clouds with fleets of unmanned ships.” Sounds like this could be a rare hopeful climate-related event.
TUESDAY Tonight, you’ll want to head to Elliott Bay Book Company, where Seattle-by-way-of-West-Virginia novelist Ann Pancake will celebrate the paperback release of her excellent short story collection Me and My Daddy Listen to Bob Marley with author Valerie Trueblood, who will herself be debuting a new collection of stories titled Criminals: Love Stories. Pancake is one of the top five best short-story writers in town, and she works pretty slowly, so you might not have another chance to celebrate a publication date with her for a while. Get out there and enjoy the moment while it lasts.
So that’s your Tuesday sorted, except there’s just one thing: Chop Suey is hosting an event called “A Loose Leaf Reading: An Evening Of Story Telling and Music” that looks really good, too. So I’m going to call this one a tie. This reading, like the Elliott Bay event, is free, and it features musician Nora Hughes with writers Patty Belsick, Casandra Lopez, Jenny Hayes, Kristen Millares Young, and featured reader Michelle Peñaloza. Good stuff.
WEDNESDAY This will be big fun: Seattle science fiction writers Nisi Shawl and Eileen Gunn will be reading at Cafe Racer as part of a science fiction and fantasy-themed open mic night called Two Hour Transport. I have to be honest, here. I’ve never heard of Two Hour Transport before, but it sounds like a fun time: featured readers share the stage with readers who sign up to read their sci-fi stories of five minutes’ duration or less. Gunn has won or been shortlisted for a boatload of awards. Shawl writes short fiction, publishes book reviews, and she has a novel coming out this September that we at the Seattle Review of Books are just dying to read. Maybe you’ll get a sneak preview of that book tonight.
THURSDAY Maggie Nelson reads at Hugo House. Chances are good that if you know a local writer, they have waxed rhapsodic about the idea of attending this reading. Maggie Nelson is an incredible writer (you should absolutely read Bluets and The Argonauts) and a world-class thinker. Tonight, she’ll be discussing “our different writing bodies and what they mean." There will also be a Q&A. This is the highest-profile reading of the week, and the hottest ticket in town.
FRIDAY Musician Korby Lenker reads at Elliott Bay Book Company tonight. He’s got a short story collection titled Medium Hero, which is full of all sorts of great opening lines:
If you’re into short stories, you know the opening lines are half the battle. Not every story in this collection is a jaw-dropper, but they’re all energetic and exciting and eager to be read.
SATURDAY If you’re into the Seattle comics scene, your heart probably broke a little bit when you heard that Intruder, the invitation-only free local comics anthology newspaper, was going to end with issue #20. It’s so good! It’s been going for so long! We all thought Intruder would be around forever! But we still have a few issues left to appreciate, and the Intruder #18 release party is tonight at music shop Spin Cycle on Broadway, so you should go and share some of that love. This party features free comics, live DJs, and, reportedly, “a bag of kettle chips.” Does their generosity know any bounds? Apparently not.
SUNDAY The downtown branch of the Seattle Public Library is hosting something called “The Star Trek Geek Out” all weekend long. Costumes are encouraged. Today’s events include live action interpretations of classic Star Trek scenes, a screening of 2009’s Star Trek reboot movie, and a panel discussion “on Kirk, Spock and gender.” This is not strictly book-related, but come on. Us nerds gotta stick together, you know.
MONDAY Your week in readings begins at Seattle Center's Artists at Play Playground at 9 pm tonight. Seattle poet Arlo Smith reads as part of the Inumbrating Pinnacle reading series, which continues all week long, culminating on Saturday night. If you haven’t been to this playground, you should most definitely go just for the spectacle of it; it’s unbelievably cool.
TUESDAY Wage Slaves, the work-themed reading series featuring free donuts, happens tonight at the Hugo House. Tonight’s event is focused on women in the workplace, and readers include Sonya Lea, Storme Webber, Michelle Peñaloza, Tele Aadsen, and Jean Burnet. I bet there'll be a lot of jaw-dropping stories at this reading.
WEDNESDAY It’s back to the Hugo House with you to celebrate Seattle Arts and Lecture’s incredible Writers in the Schools program, which helps young people learn how to communicate through writing. Tonight, Seattle writing instructors with WitS will read new work. Readers include Samar Abulhassan, Daemond Arrindell, Emily Bedard, Aaron Counts, Laura Gamache, Clare Meeker, Peter Mountford, Sierra Nelson, Imani Sims and Greg Stump.
THURSDAY Good lord, it’s a three-night stand at the Hugo House this week! Washington publisher Two Sylvias Press presents authors reading from their new collections. Cecilia Woloch presents her chapbook Earth, which won the 2014 Two Sylvias Chapbook Prize, and Martha Silano reads the second, expanded version of her collection What The Truth Tastes Like.
FRIDAY The penultimate Inumbrating Pinnacle event happens at the Armory Monorail station at Seattle Center at 9 pm. Your readers are Seattle poetry stalwarts Jeremy Springsteed and Jeanne Morel. Why not take the Monorail from downtown to this one? You can pretend to be a resident of Seattle’s future, circa 1963.
SATURDAY Head to he central branch of the Seattle Public Library downtown for the first in an exciting new series put on by SPL called Page to Screen: Hear the Story, See the Film. It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a reading of a short story, followed by a showing of the film adapted from that story. Today’s feature is Tod Browning’s incredibly creepy 1932 film Freaks — of “one of us! One of us!” fame —and a reading of Tod Robbins’s story “Spurs,” which inspired the film. It’s a neat idea, isn’t it? I’m excited to see how this works.
SUNDAY End your week with the excellent Monorail Reading Series at Fred Wildlife Refuge. Poets Raul Alvarez, Julie Carr, and Diana Khoi Nguyen read. With plenty of booze! I can't imagine a livelier way to close out the week.
MONDAY Your week of civic activism, Black Lives Matter, and a heavy dose of poetry begins at the Fremont branch of the Seattle Public Library with Floating Bridge Press's quarterly reading series An Evening of Poetry. This is Elizabeth Austen’s last Seattle-area appearance in her capacity as Washington’s poet laureate. (Read about our new poet laureate here.) Go and show her some love for all the hard work she’s put in as the public face of poetry. Other readers include Angela Belcaster and Von Thompson.
TUESDAY We have a real rarity tonight: I can’t decide between the two top readings, so I’m going to tell you about them both. First up, Sara Brickman features at the Round at Fremont Abbey. Brickman, a Seattle poet who headed east for graduate school, is making a rare local appearance with other poets, a cellist, and “live painters.” Brickman is a lively reader, and it’ll be good to catch up with her recent work.
Also tonight, Nick Licata debuts his new book Becoming a Citizen Activist at Couth Buzzard Books. I reviewed this one last week. Licata just left Seattle’s city council last week, and now he’s re-entering life as a private citizen. Be gentle with him.
WEDNESDAY Elliott Bay Book Company hosts a launch party for Seattle poet Emily Johnston’s debut collection, Her Animals. She’ll be joined by Drew Dillhunt, the associate editor at Her Animals’s publisher, Hummingbird Press. Seems like a good way to introduce yourself to a Seattle-area small publisher and support Seattle poetry in one evening.
THURSDAY It’s time again for Margin Shift, the Seattle poetry collective's reading series. Tonight’s readers are Eddie Kim from Seoul, Seattle poet Samar Abulhassan, and, up from LA, Cathy Linh Che. You won’t find a more geographically diverse bill in Seattle this week, and Margin Shift always puts on a good show.
FRIDAY Tonight’s best event is a talk titled “Black Lives Matter in Hip-Hop” at Town Hall Seattle. A panel of local musicians, including Wyking Garrett, Jace Ecaj, Nikkita Oliver, Suntonio Bandanaz, and Renaissance the Poet, will talk about gentrification in hip-hop and the local Black Lives Matter movement. This one is important.
SATURDAY Elliott Bay Book Company teams with Copper Canyon Press to bring Washington poet Red Pine to Seattle. His newest book, Finding Them Gone: Visiting China’s Poets of the Past, is a photo-filled travelogue from Pine’s monthlong trip to China, during which he tried to learn more about the history of Chinese poetry.
SUNDAY University Book Store closes out our week with “Cindy Safronoff's comparative biography of late 19th century feminist activists Mary Baker Eddy and Victoria Claflin Woodhull." Eddy believed in marriage as an institution. Woodhull was a proponent of free love. They often disagreed. Passionately. The book is titled Crossing Swords: Mary Baker Eddy vs. Victoria Claflin Woodhull and the Battle for the Soul of Marriage, and it sounds totally fascinating.
MONDAY Elliott Bay Book Company kicks off your new year of readings with Siamak Vossoughi, a short story author who is originally from Iran but who now lives in Seattle. His first collection of stories is titled Better Than War, and it’s a winner of the Flannery O’Connor Prize.
TUESDAY Science fiction author Dave Bara celebrates the debut of the second book in his space opera series The Lightship Chronicles at University Book Store. In it, the crew of a spaceship must investigate a mysterious space station.
WEDNESDAY Town Hall presents its first night of programming in the new year. Jamie Merisotis is president/CEO of the Lumina Foundation, and he’s interested in talking about America’s talent gap. America Needs Talent is a book about how “educated, talented, and innovative individuals are needed in the United States.”
THURSDAY Elliott Bay Book Company co-presents a reading with novelist Ru Freeman and local authors Tess Gallagher, Peter Mountford, and Alice Rothchild. They’re all contributors to an anthology titled Extraordinary Rendition: (American) Writers on Palestine. It features 65 pieces of journalism, essays, poetry, and fiction about the Palestinian experience.
FRIDAY It’s back to Elliott Bay Book Company with you for a reading from a Montana-based writer named Ben Nickol, who is the author of a short story collection titled Where the Wind Can Find It. These are stories mostly about people who live near wildernesses.
SATURDAY Our last visit to Elliott Bay Book Company this week is a celebration of the life of Seattle poet Madeline DeFrees. DeFrees, who passed away in November, was one of the very best poets our region had to offer. Local writers including Kathleen Flenniken will be presenting her work and celebrating her life. This is not to be missed.
SUNDAY University Book Store closes out your week with a memoir by Katherine A. Hitchcock. Hitchcock was one of the very few women in Silicon Valley in the late 60s, 70s, and 80s, which means she helped computers transform from gigantic monsters to tiny little handheld time-sucking devices. Her memoir is titled Atypical Girl Geek.
MONDAY Your week begins with a splash: author and artist Molly Crabapple reads at Elliott Bay Book Company. Crabapple’s Drawing Blood is a memoir about art, journalism, and upheaval. It’s an absolutely gorgeous (and, by all accounts, beautifully written) book.
TUESDAY Hugo House hosts the Copper Canyon Press holiday party. A bunch of Copper Canon poets including Dean Young and Deborah Landau will read new work, and Copper Canyon staffers will introduce you to poets and books that could change your life. (This is the publisher that Sherman Alexie once called the best poetry press in America, after all.) They’ll offer great gift suggestions, too!
WEDNESDAY The best-looking literary event of the night is at the South Park Neighborhood Center, where Seattle Public Library staffers will lead a book club discussion of the excellent comic book memoir Marbles by Ellen Forney, who is a Seattle-area treasure.
THURSDAY University Book Store presents a Theo Chocolate and Coffee Tasting. There’ll be chocolate from Theo and coffee from Stumptown, along with signed copies of the Theo Chocolate cookbook. University Book Store does offer gift-wrapping, so this is a pretty easy way to score a good Christmas present and sneak some chocolate for yourself along the way.
FRIDAY At the Jack Straw Cultural Center Jack Straw musicians Sharon Nyree Williams and Stephen Cohen will present new work. (Williams is also a storyteller and poet.) They’ll be joined by Anna Balint, who will present writers from the Recovery Café Safe Place Writing Circle. Balint is recording writers from the Recovery Café in a series of podcasts.
SATURDAY It’s back to University Book Store for a special story time for kids, featuring treats, activities, and a visit from Santa Claus. (We have it on good authority that Mr. Claus will also pose for free photos with the kids, too.)
SUNDAY We’re about to enter the two most reading-free weeks of the year, but this is a great way to close out 2015: Seattle poet Sarah Galvin presents a debut party for her new book The Best Party of Our Lives at Hugo House. This is a heartwarming collection of true stories about gay weddings. Galvin will be joined by couples from the book, and she’ll be interviewed onstage by Official Awesome Person David Schmader. This one is not to be missed.
MONDAY Happy new week! I’m sorry to report that tonight’s reading with xkcd’s Randall Munro and Hank Green at Town Hall is sold out. Instead, you should visit Campion Ballroom at Seattle University for Jon Meacham. Meacham is an excellent presidential biographer, and his newest book is about George Herbert Walker Bush. Destiny and Power is a much-needed spotlight on the somewhat-reasonable-in-retrospect man who sired two dullards with presidential aspirations.
TUESDAY Seattle Arts and Lectures brings poet Srikanth Reddy to McCaw Hall. Check out the beginning of Reddy’s poem “Burial Practices”:
Then the pulse.
Then a pause.
Then twilight in a box.
Whoooa. That's some good stuff. According to press materials, “Reddy's talk will consider a range of questions concerning poetry and poetics, including theories of likeness, ekphrasis, technology, and wonder.” Sold!
WEDNESDAY Christopher T. Bayley reads from his new book Seattle Justice: The Rise and Fall of the Police Payoff System in Seattle at Town Hall Seattle. It’s a true crime story that begins with this sentence: “It was a sunny day in July, and Seattle perched on a gray-green sound edged by mountains: the Cascades formed a wall on the east, the Olympics rose and fell along the west.”
THURSDAY Tonight’s pick for best event is Pay Dirt at the Rendezvous. Local writers Anca L. Szilágyi, Bernard Grant, Emily Bedard, Martha Kreiner, and Matthew Schnirman “explore art, money, and desire in new fiction and poetry.” This event will be hosted by Poetry Northwest’ magazine’s Kevin Craft, who is an excellent host. It’s always interesting when writers talk about money.
FRIDAY Elliott Bay Book Company hosts a launch party for Mairead Case’s See You In the Morning, which is a book about three seventeen-year-olds told in paragraph-length poems.
SATURDAY It’s time for Urban Craft Uprising at Seattle Center. Why not go and support Seattle’s biggest and best craft show? They’ve got plenty of paper craft on display, including some gorgeous letterpress printers.
SUNDAY University Book Store’s Bellevue branch hosts authors Maia Chance, Janine A. Southard, Raven Oak, and G. Clemans. Their anthology, Joy to the Worlds, is a collection of holiday-themed sci-fi and mystery short stories. (The publishers of this book sponsored the Seattle Review of Books last month, but they did not pay for this recommendation; I think it sounds like the best event of the day.) Go and have a very genre holiday.
MONDAY Elliott Bay Book Company kicks off your week in readings with an event that might improve your Thanksgiving dinner: Sommelier Madeline Puckette reads from her book Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine tonight. If you ask nicely, she will probably tell you what wine goes best with turkey and stuffing.
TUESDAY At Town Hall Seattle, neuroscientist David Eagleman, who you most likely know from his PBS series about the brain, will be reading and discussing his new book The Brain: The Story of You, which aspires to “explore why we think and feel the way we do, and how the brain shapes nearly every aspect of who we are and what we perceive as reality.”
WEDNESDAY No readings happening tonight, but Ravenna Third Place Books is hosting a book club discussing the great John Scalzi’s sci-fi novel Old Man’s War. It’s about a widower in his 70s who joins a space army.
THURSDAY It’s Thanksgiving day. We suggest you stay home and read in the morning. Pick a good short book — Jim Dodge’s Fup, say, or We Should All Be Feminists — and sit down and read it in its entirety, from front to back. It’ll give you something to talk about over dinner, and it will calm and center your mind. If you can’t take a holiday to do something special for yourself, what’s the point of holidays? And what could be more special than carving out the time to read a whole book in one sitting?
FRIDAY Just as there are no readings on Thanksgiving day, there are no readings on Black Friday, either. If you’re not out supporting your local independent bookstore, you should know that the Central Library is hosting fall crafts for kids from 1 to 5 pm today. That sounds like a nice way to dodge all the holiday shopping craziness.
SATURDAY The book event of the week is happening at Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery in Georgetown, where cartoonist Colleen Frakes signs her comic book memoir Prison Island, which I reviewed when it was released back in September. It’s about growing up on McNeil Island, a prison island in Washington state.
(Saturday, I must mention, is also Small Business Saturday, which is the day when you’re supposed to leave the mall behind and visit your local inependent shops. University Book Store is hosting events all day, including three readings and two panels — one on YA and one on sci-fi. Most other bookstores in your area are having events, too. Go give them your support. This city would be a terrible place without independently owned businesses.)
SUNDAY It’s time for “Bow Wows and Books” at the Greenlake branch of the Library. Here’s the description: “Practice reading with a new friend who is warm, friendly and a perfect listener! Certified therapy dogs and their handlers join young readers to read one-on-one in a relaxing and nonjudgmental environment.” This simply could not be any more adorable.
MONDAY Lyndon Johnson is perhaps the modern president who most lends himself to literary works. He’s appeared in Robert Caro’s ridiculously ambitious biographies, one of David Foster Wallace’s best short stories, and Robert Schenkkan’s incredible plays. But tonight, Betty Boyd Caroli looks at an under-appreciated side of the LBJ story in her book Lady Bird and Lyndon. Lady Bird Johnson could not have been a dull or unintelligent woman, but she’s gotten short shrift in most of the above-mentioned literary accounts. Caroli will be reading from the book at Town Hall Seattle tonight.
TUESDAY Elliott Bay Book Company hosts Michael Witwer, who will be reading from his new book Empire of Imagination: Gary Gygax and the Birth of Dungeons and Dragons. This is the first biography of Dungeons & Dragons inventor Gary Gygax, who has one of the all-time best names.
WEDNESDAY It’s time for the twelfth edition of WordsWest at C&P Coffee Company in West Seattle. The readers tonight are memoirist Allison Green, who recently wrote a great blog post about the controversy surrounding the Seattle: City of Literature anthology, and poet Hannah Faith Notess, whose debut collection Ghost House knocked my socks off.
THURSDAY: The Northwest African American Museum hosts Lauret Savoy, whose book Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape was called “a stunning excavation and revelation of race, identity, and the American landscape” by Terry Tempest Williams.
FRIDAY: It’s time again for the Hugo Literary Series at Hugo House. Like every entry in the series this year, writers will present new work based on a cliche. Tonight’s cliche is "Beggars can't be choosers.” The writers are novelist and essayist Leslie Jamison, the poet Roger Reeves, and Portland novelist Alexis M. Smith. YVES singer Susie Philipsen will also present new music on the theme.
SATURDAY: I suppose it’s time to start thinking about Christmas shopping. Today is the 2015 Holiday Bookfest at the Phinney Neighborhood Center, which will for the day be turned into “a boutique bookstore, created especially by local indie bookstore Secret Garden.” Find books, baked goods, and 27 local authors, including Garth Stein, Elizabeth George, Nancy Horan, Jim Lynch, Megan Chance, and Sean Beaudoin. Go get some autographed books for Christmas.
SUNDAY: Okay, so Patti Smith at Town Hall has long since sold out. So here’s an alternate event for the kids in your life: at the southwest branch of Seattle Public Library, there will be a workshop for kids “based in the legend of El Bibliobandido (or 'Book Bandit'), a ravenous, story-eating bandit that pesters youth to write and offer him fresh-baked stories.” The stories will involve digital media, paper craft, and good old-fashioned talkin’ and writin’. This looks like it should be a fun way to cap a fun week.
In this morning's post, I said there were way too many great events going on this week. I stand by that statement. Somehow, it escaped my attention that Seattle Arts and Lectures is hosting a Local Voices reading tomorrow night at Hugo House. No offense to Marion Nestle, who will undoubtedly put on a great reading at Town Hall tomorrow night and who is very knowledgeable about the scourge that is Big Soda, but the Local Voices reading should obviously have been the event of the night. I mean, look at this lineup:
Margot Case, Vicky Edmonds, Katy Ellis, Karen Finneyfrock, Kathleen Flenniken, Matt Gano, Rachel Kessler, Corinne Manning, Michael Overa and Ann Teplick.
So look. If you're not into poetry or fiction, you should attend the Nestle reading. You'll have a great time! But if you care about Seattle literature, obviously go to the Hugo House tomorrow night. I apologize for any confusion this oversight may have caused.
MONDAY Elliott Bay Book Company kicks off our week in readings with Calf, Andrea Kleine’s debut novel. Here’s an introductory note you’ll find before the first page of Calf:
If that doesn't grab your attention, I don't know what will. Kleine will be appearing with delightful Seattle author Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, who will read new work.
TUESDAY Marion Nestle, who is a nutrition expert, reads at Town Hall from her book Soda Politics. It’s about how the soda industry has willfully caused “increased rates of obesity, risk for Type 2 Diabetes, [and] poor dental health” in people all over the world. She also prescribes some solutions and highlights some anti-soda campaigns that have worked around the world.
WEDNESDAY Okay, it’s time for a programming note: this week is incredibly loaded down with great-looking events. I could highlight three or four events for every night this week — for instance, Sloane Crosley is reading at Elliott Bay Book Company tonight. But tonight at the Seattle Public Library, Orhan Pamuk will be reading from his newest book, A Strangeness in My Mind. Crosley is one of the funniest writers at work today, but Pamuk has won the Nobel Prize for Literature, so he obviously comes out on top.
THURSDAY At Hugo House it’s time for the last Cheap Wine and Poetry of the year. Your readers tonight are Poetry Northwest’s Kevin Craft, memoirist Nicole Hardy, self-professed “creative heartist” Nikkita Oliver, and the indomitable Ed Skoog. Wine, as always, is $1 a glass.
FRIDAY Remember what I said about every night of the week being overstuffed with events? The Carrie Brownstein and Maria Semple reading at The Neptune is very likely to have sold out by now, so let’s direct our attention to a smaller, very worthy event: at Left Bank Books, Vancouver poets Kevin Spenst and Jeff Steudel will read from their latest books. Spenst’s debut collection is riddled with pop culture and the landscape of Vancouver. It’s titled Jabbering with Bing Bong. Steudel’s Foreign Park is about the history and ecology of the Fraser River. It’s not every night you get to attend a reading at Left Bank Books; go celebrate one of Seattle's best bookstores.
SATURDAY Town Hall Scholar in residence Brangien Davis, who was until recently the arts and culture editor of Seattle magazine, will give a tour of Town Hall’s hidden gem, “an Austin Universal Air Chest, a 2023-pipe organ that was installed in 1923.” The organ hasn’t worked in a long time, but Davis will investigate the way it’s blended into the building, and she’ll talk about what it might take to bring the organ back to life.
SUNDAY At Benaroya Hall tonight, Gloria Steinem will present her new memoir, My Life on the Road. She will be interviewed by Cheryl Strayed, and Seattle singer/songwriter Hollis Wong-Wear will perform new music. This is obviously going to be a very special evening.
MONDAY Start the week off with some librarians at a Bookish Happy Hour at the Diller Room. This is part of Seattle Public Library’s Booktoberfest program, which brings librarians, beer, and you together in non-traditional venues.
TUESDAY I’ve been looking forward to this for months now: at the Seattle Public Library, I’m participating in an event with Colum McCann and John Freeman. McCann, of course, is a beloved novelist who manages to span that widest of chasms: he writes — gasp! — bestselling literary fiction. His newest collection is titled Thirteen Ways of Looking, and it contains a novella and three short stories, touching on security and our modern panopticon of a society and also heartbreak, because you can’t have a McCann story without heartbreak. Freeman is well-known in the publishing industry: he was editor at Granta, he’s a noteworthy literary critic (which makes him as rare as mermaid’s tears), and now he’s starting a new magazine called Freeman’s, which presents new work based on a theme. The first issue is centered around the idea of “Arrival,” and it features talent like McCann, Haruki Murakami, Louise Erdrich, and Dave Eggers. This is an explosive debut for a literary magazine, and this event should be a lot of fun.
But of course, because I’m involved in that event, I’m naturally biased. So allow me to present an ALTERNATE TUESDAY event for your edification. At Town Hall Seattle, Jack Nisbet will appear in conversation with John Marzluff, a professor of wildlife science, and geologist David Montgomery. Nisbet’s newest book Ancient Places explores the relationship between the landscape and the culture of the Pacific Northwest,.
WEDNESDAY The WordsWest Literary Series will happen at C&P Coffee Company in West Seattle. This is a monthly reading series that brings new and established talent to a neighborhood that doesn’t see very many literary events. Tonight’s readers are KUOW journalist Ruby de Luna, who has reported on immigrant communities and health care, and Stephanie Timm, an author who recently wrote a play titled Tails of Wasps and co-authored an adaptation of The Ramayana with Yussef el Guindi.
THURSDAY Obviously, you’re going to Lit Crawl Seattle. This is not optional.
FRIDAY Elliott Bay Book Company hosts two novelists who have been published by the wonderful publisher Akashic Books. Joe Meno will read from his new novel, Marvel and a Wonder, which is about a farm, horse-racing, and family. Nina Revoyr’s new novel Lost Canyon is about four backpackers who go on a trip that finds them outside of their comfort zone.
SATURDAY University Book Store presents a special reading with Seattle author G. Willow Wilson and writer Margaret Stohl. They’ll be signing their new books: Wilson’s latest comic is A-Force, which features an all-woman team of superheroes, and Stohl recently published a young adult novel starring the Marvel character Black Widow. While mainstream comics is slowly opening up to women, it’s still a predominantly male-dominated field. This is a rare chance to meet and talk with two women who have made names for themselves and thrived in that industry. Go show them some love.
SUNDAY Hugo House hosts a reading from Floating Bridge Press chapbook winners. Every year, great local publisher Floating Bridge Press sponsors a contest that finds a new poet and publishes their work. This year’s winner is Michael Schmeltzer, who will read from his chapbook, Elegy/Elk River. (He’s also got a book coming out soon from Two Sylvias Press.) Several finalists from the contest— Maya Jewell Zeller, Brian Cooney, and Linda Malnack — will also read. This is a great chance to see some new poets do their thing; you’ll likely be seeing these names around town for years to come. Why not get a head start tonight?
MONDAY It’s not very often that I send you out to Bellevue, but tonight I bring you a very good reason to head east: the Bellevue branch of University Book Store hosts an evening with a number of poets reading from Raising Lily Ledbetter, a compelling anthology of poetry about women at work that I reviewed a few weeks ago. Readers include Carolyne Wright, Eugenia Toledo, Kathya Alexander, Deborah Woodard, Judith Roche, Erin Fristad, and Mary Ellen Talley.
TUESDAY Cartoonist Ted Rall will discuss his excellent comic-book biography of Edward Snowden at Town Hall tonight. He’ll be interviewed onstage by some jerk named Paul Constant, who press materials inform us is the co-founder of a site called the Seattle Review of Books.
So because we here at SRoB have a conflict-of-interest rule that insists we provide an alternate event on nights when we’re taking part in a reading, our ALTERNATE TUESDAY: event is a doozy: Seattle Arts and Lectures presents an evening with poets Mary Szybist and Robert Wrigley. Szybist is interested in what it means to have a body, and Wrigley writes about nature and spirituality in a very interesting way. Expect a smart discussion about corporeality and its limits.
WEDNESDAY We’ve got a two-fer tonight: First up, awesome small press festival Short Run, which is preparing a month’s worth of events in October, presents a Zine and Comix Fair in the lobby of Northwest Film Forum. After the fair, though, you should head down to Vermillion for the 5th anniversary celebration of Seattle’s other great small-press festival, the APRIL Festival. Readers include Stacey Levine, who is one of the best short story writers in all of Seattle and such an incredible reader of her own work that she released a single on Sub Pop, and Don Mee Choi, who is one of my favorite local poets. Think of it as a mini-lit crawl with two stops!
THURSDAY Ravenna Third Place Books hosts Ryan Boudinot, Paul Constant, Eric Reynolds, and Sonora Jha having a panel discussion about Seattle’s literary scene to celebrate the release of Boudinot’s new book, Seattle: City of Literature. Reynolds is an editor at Fantagraphics, which means he works on some of the best comics in America. Boudinot, most recently, is the author of The Octopus Rises. And Jha is the local author of a great novel called Foreign that was for some reason only published in India, but which you can buy at Elliott Bay Book Company.
And because I’m on that panel, your ALTERNATE THURSDAY event is at University Book Store, where the wonderful writer Lauren Groff presents her new and much-ballyhooed novel Fates and Furies, which is described as a “portrait of a modern marriage told with the fury and force of a Greek myth.”
FRIDAY Hugo House hosts a big splashy launch party for Seattle: City of Literature, featuring Ryan Boudinot, Rick Simonson, Jim Lynch, Elissa Washuta, Charles Mudede, and Brian McGuigan.
SATURDAY Elliott Bay Book Company hosts Ian Brennan and Bob Forrest. The authors will discuss Brennan's novella, Sister Maple Syrup Eyes, and Forrest’s memoir Running With Monsters. Forrest apparently has something to do with a show called Celebrity Rehab, and his book includes reminiscences of River Phoenix’s death.
SUNDAY The Beacon Hill branch of Seattle Public Library hosts a free screening of the movie The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 and also hosts a discussion of the book on which the movie is based. The film series is set to conclude this fall, which makes this an interesting time to discuss the final book in the series. Half of the book has already been (poorly) adapted, so what’s the second half going to be like? Is there a chance that the Hunger Games film series can rebound and reclaim the greatness of its second installment? Is Mockingjay even a good book to begin with? These questions, and more, will finally be settled once and for all. (No pressure!)
MONDAY Your week begins at University Book Store, where Fran Wilde reads from her new fantasy novel Updraft. It’s set in a world “built in towers of living bone” and stars a main character who has the “ability to control the invisible predators that roam the skies with her voice.” That sounds entirely bonkers, and is therefore worthy of our respect.
TUESDAY Elliott Bay Book Company brings Joy Williams to town for what they acknowledge is a “rare” visit. Williams is largely regarded as a master of American fiction, and her name is often dropped in the same sentence as writers like Flannery O’Connor. If you like short stories, I’d recommend her collection Honored Guest. She debuts a new story collection, The Visiting Privilege, here tonight.
WEDNESDAY The reading series Lit Fix pops up in Belltown tonight with a great lineup: Kevin Maloney, Jeanine Walker, and short-story author (and Instant Future publisher) Matthew Simmons, as well as musician Steven Curtis. But tonight’s Lit Fix is also a big deal because it’s the last local public appearance of local writer Kelly Davio before she moves to London. Davio gave a great interview to the Seattle Review of Books about why she’s leaving town and what she’ll most miss about Seattle a week or so ago. Here’s your chance to go show your support for her.
THURSDAY You’ll want to visit Hugo House for the latest installment of Cheap Beer & Prose, where the beer is cheap ($1 per can of PBR) and the readers are guaranteed to be good. Tonight’s readers include Jean Burnet, Kevin Emerson, Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum, and Jay McAleer.
FRIDAY Philip Howard, a professor at the University of Washington reads at Town Hall from his book Pax Technica, which reimagines the internet as something simultaneously open and secure, neither of which is strictly true today.
SATURDAY Head to Neighbours Nighclub for Banned! Books in Drag, in which David Schmader hosts a bunch of drag queens who will “give performances inspired by their favorite works of literature” to raise awareness for banned literature. This is the only literary event this week where you’ll find performer names like Sparkle Leigh, Isabella St. Extynn St. James, LaSaveona Hunt, Atasha Manila, Aleksa Manila, Charlie Menace, DonaTella Howe, Sylvia O'Stayformore and Kitty Kitty Bang Bang.
SUNDAY Hugo House hosts a passel of poets in a baseball-themed World Series of Poetry. Two teams composed from the poets Ed Skoog, Kary Wayson, Oliver de la Paz, Arlene Kim, Dean Rader, and Sarah Galvin will “take turns batting at topics pitched to them by the audience.” Sounds like a lot of fun! This event is hosted by John Roderick, a musician who tried to be a politician a few months ago. He's a good host of literary events.
MONDAY Celebrate Labor Day at Bumbershoot, where the Words & Ideas Stage hosts a discussion between local authors Timothy Egan and Jamie Ford, with moderation from Portland Magazine editor Brian Doyle. Egan, of course, is a New York Times contributor and the author of some fantastic non-fiction history books. Ford wrote the Seattle-set novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.
TUESDAY Elliott Bay Book Company hosts Anita Feng, a local poet and zen teacher who just published Sid, a contemporary retelling of Siddhartha. Press materials say that “Sid teaches that the key to the story of the Buddha's life is that the story could be about any of us.”
WEDNESDAY This is a big-name night with a big-name Seattle author. Third Place Books hosts Jonathan Evison, who will be reading from his new novel This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! Evison, the author of the very good All About Lulu and the phenomenal Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving (which is being adapted into a movie starring Paul Rudd) is always trying new things in his fiction. Harriet is a novel about a nearly 80 year-old woman on an Alaskan cruise. At this reading, you should ask Evison how he researched the book.
THURSDAY When an event is titled “Wave in the PNW: An Evening with Wave Books,” you’ve got our attention. Wave Books is one of the most ambitious publishers of poetry in America today, and tonight, they’re bringing five Pacific Northwest authors to town. Tonight’s readers are Alejandro de Acosta, Joshua Beckman, John Beer, Cedar Sigo, and Don Mee Choi, who is one of the best poets in Seattle right now. Seriously, this is a roster that’s gushing with talent — Beckman and Sigo have rocked my world in past readings — but I can’t wait to read Don Mee Choi’s forthcoming collection.
FRIDAY It’s time again for the Hugo House’s Literary Series, in which three authors and a local band produce new work based around a theme. Tonight’s readers are novelists Dinaw Mengestu and Alissa Nutting, along with wonderful local poet Sarah Galvin. The Foghorns will perform new songs. The theme — this year’s Literary Series is all about cliches — is “Beating a Dead Horse.” Somehow, I think this is the theme Sarah Galvin was born to write about.
SATURDAY Head on out to the Bellevue branch of University Book Store for what sounds like a fascinating book. Here’s the pitch: “Over a decade ago, W. Ernest Freud, the only one of Sigmund Freud's grandchildren to become a psychoanalyst, asked Bellevue psychologist Daniel Benveniste to write his biography.” Tonight, Benveniste debuts the biography, which is titled The Interwoven Lives of Sigmund, Anna and W. Ernest Freud: Three Generations of Psychoanalysis. Imagine the kind of apple that family tree must’ve produced.
SUNDAY Capitol Hill rum bar Rumba is an unconventional place to hold a reading, which means we’re all for it. Tonight, author Adam Rakunas presents his novel Windswept, which is a science fiction story about a labor organizer who wants to open a rum distillery. Yes, and it all happens in space. You just can’t resist that kind of a premise.
MONDAY Our week starts off with the August edition of Nerd Nite at Lucid Jazz Lounge. As with every Nerd Nite, this one features two very different speakers. First up, Marielle Saums will discuss the history of bananas. Then, electrical engineer Krunal Desai, who press materials inform us “bailed on the auto industry to work on spacecraft,” will discuss why modern cars are so difficult to fix but so easy to hack.
TUESDAY The Central Library hosts a tribute to the dearly departed Northwest author Ivan Doig, with authors Annie Proulx, Linda Bierds, David Laskin, and Myra Platt all sharing memories of Doig and reading pieces in his honor.
WEDNESDAY It’s back to the Central Library for you: sci-fi author John Scalzi will read from The End of All Things, which is the newest volume in his Old Man’s War series. Scalzi is an excellent novelist who is also an Important Figure on the Internet. He’s not afraid to be political — specifically, he’s not afraid to be a feminist — and he’s often a voice of reason when Twitter events begin to fly out of control, as they so often do.
THURSDAY University Book Store hosts The Coup frontman Boots Riley, who’ll be reading from his book of lyrics, poems, and essays, Tell Homeland Security - We are the Bomb. I’m a fan of the lot of The Coup’s music, but I think their song “Wear Clean Draws" is a stone-cold classic:
FRIDAY Tonight, you're returning to University Book Store, as author Nina Ansary appears in conversation with with Steve Gutzler. They’ll be discussing Ansary’s new book Jewels of Allah: The Untold Story of Women in Iran.Get a load of this, from the description of the event:
By digging into the actual impact of government policies, religious beliefs, and social norms, Ansary reveals the unintended increase of educated women following the repeal of gender equality laws, the influence of increased access to textbooks and women's magazines, and the powerful female voices and accomplishments by women in both Iran's past and present.
SATURDAY Elliott Bay Book Company hosts a reading with Pushcart Prizewinning author Ottessa Moshfegh. She’ll be reading from her novel Eileen, the story of a secretary at a boy’s prison who escapes from a terrible domestic situation.
SUNDAY Seattle’s very best Oulipian writer, Doug Nufer, shares the stage with Paolo Pergola, a member of the Italian Oulipian group OPLEPO. Pergola will read constraint-based pieces in English and Italian. Nufer will likely read from his new book, Lifeline Rule. (Pergola’s bio also mentions that he has “translated Popeye into Italian.”) This is all happening at Gallery 1412. Nufer’s readings are always a blast, and while we’re often visited by authors from around the country, we are not always visited by European writers. So we should give Pergola a warm Seattle welcome. Is that a thing? A "warm Seattle welcome?" Well, if it isn't, we should pretend that it is.