Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Literary Pub Crawl

Last night my friend Lisa and I went to Litcrawl, the culminating event of Litquake. It's a free, three-hour hop through the Mission District from bar to cafe to bookstore and more, each hosting a reading a different theme. Lisa and I knew we had to strategize, so we chose "Real Life: Memoir Authors Tell It Like It Is," "Girls Tell All," and the MacAdam/Cage publisher's panel, the last one because we both know Susan Ito (also my wonderful writing teacher), who was reading. Other events beckoned--the one featuring SF Chronicle columnists, the TWO/LINES bilingual English-Spanish reading, Mommy Lit, food and wine--but we didn't want to stretch ourselves too thin.

At Double Dutch on 16th Street, the venue for "Memoir," we heard Clayne Hayward on her chaotic hippie childhood, Alan Kauffman on his disturbed Jewish mother, Scott Keneally on being a man who cried at Dove commercials, Brigit Kinsella on falling in love with man behind bars, Rachel Sarah on single motherhood, and Max Velario on experiencing the rush of testosterone as a transsexual. Wow. Six new books added to my "Books to Read" list in 45 minutes.

From there we cruised to the Beauty Bar on Mission Street, for "Girls Tell All," but I guess others wanted to hear what the girls had to tell, too, because it was overflowing out the door. I glimpsed some pink sparkly wallpaper and vowed to return some other time. The Litquake door monitor told us to just go to our next venue and get a good seat. But we decided to peek in at Modern Times bookstore where Seal Press was exploring "...the F Stop: Female Authors Take On Fashion, Fucking, Feminism, Felines, Freestyling, and Felonies." I couldn't keep my attention on Daphne Gottlieb's rant about discovering herself as a thinly disguised character in someone else's writing, and how others kiss and tell but she doesn't and how there is another person living in England with--gasp!--her same name. Maybe it was the result of the glass of white wine I drank at "Memoir." So I looked at the books on the table in the back, and bought two anthologies while Samara Halperin read about craving an Izod shirt. We left before hearing the last reader and hopped over to the Make-Out Room on 22nd Street.

Snowflakes of light danced around on the walls and bounced off strips of silver hanging from the ceiling. We found Susan and shared a booth with her and two friends. She read an excerpt from her essay in the anthology "Choice: True Stories of Birth, Contraception, Infertility, Adoption, Single Parenthood, and Abortion" coming out next week. Hers was about a pregnancy she had to terminate--either that, or lose her life. She read calmly and didn't seem nervous, although her excerpt was the most wrenching anbd took the most courage to read. Angela Mi Young Hur read from her book about girls in Koreatown, Sheldon Siegel read a description of the Mission District, and Janice Cooke Newman read from her historical novel, "Mary," about Mary Todd Lincoln--another book to add to my "Books to Read" list. We also heard from Clive Clevenger and Eric Martin in short pieces they had written to be performed at Litcrawl--from what they read, I'm less sure what those writers were about.

Besides the literary stimulation, we ran into other people we knew, and gazed unabashedly at other people. And an added bonus for me: now I know about three cool Mission District bars! Maybe I'll even make it to one of them before I go bar-hopping again at next year's Litcrawl.


Caroline said...

I'm sorry I missed this, but am glad to experience it a bit, vicariously, through your post!
Gotta get this on the calendar earlier next year...

Violeta said...

Sounds like so much fun!

Susan said...

daphne, thanks so much for the awesome shout-out. That was a beautiful description of the Makeout Room - that place was surreal. I really appreciated your supportive presence, and for bringing your surprise friend!