City Lights Events for October

Fall is officially here and City Lights has plenty of tricks and treats to share with you during the month of October. Get ready for some incredible author appearances, book release parties, Litquake events, and more! All of these events take place at the bookstore at 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133, begin at 7 PM, and are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.

This month features two book release parties for City Lights Books, including celebrations for Rumpus columnist Thomas Page McBees memoir about what it means to be a man, Man Alive and Mylene Fernandez-Pintado‘s novel A Corner of the World. Also this month we celebrate a new book of essays from The Baffler.

Other authors who will be visiting City Lights this month include Richard Kenvin explaining the craft and culture of surfing. At the end of the month our events draw inspiration from Chinese culture, as James Lenfestey reads from his poetic new book that describes his journey to Cold Mountain Cave in China, Gerald Nicosia shares his new poetry collection Night Train to Shanghai, and Ari Larissa Heinrich and Scott Esposito discuss Qiu Miaojin.

To find out more details about these exciting upcoming events, read on below.

Tuesday, October 7

richard-kenvin-surfing-carl-ekstrom-surfboardRichard Kenvin discusses the true art of the surfboard in his new book Surf Culture: Design and the Culture of Board Riding from MIT Press.

Surfboards were once made of wood and shaped by hand, objects of both cultural and recreational significance. Today most surfboards are mass-produced with fiberglass and a stew of petrochemicals, moving (or floating) billboards for athletes and their brands, emphasizing the commercial rather than the cultural. Surf Craft maps this evolution, examining surfboard design and craft with 150 color images and insightful text.

Surf Craft is published in conjunction with an exhibition at San Diego’s Mingei International Museum.

Wednesday, October 8

MyleneFernándezMylene Fernández-Pintado travels from her home city of Havana to read from and discuss her new book, A Corner of the World, she is joined by the translator, Dick Cluster.

A cautious, reserved professor of Spanish Literature, Marian has no idea that her quiet life is about to be turned upside-down. When she’s asked to review the work of a young, ambitious first-time novelist, she meets Daniel, and their love affair leads her to question both the choices she’s made so far in her life and the opportunities she might yet still have.

Theirs is the story of an intense and impossible love, set in today’s Havana.

“Love in Havana, love found and mislaid. In thoughtfully chosen words—just those needed, and no more—Mylene Fernández offers us a magnificent gift.”—Leonardo Padura, author of The Man Who Loved Dogs and the Mario Conde novels of Havana


Thursday, October 9

TPMCelebrate Thomas Page McBee‘s new critically acclaimed memoir, Man Alive: A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man.

What does it really mean to be a man? McBee attempts to answer that question by focusing on two of the men who most impacted his life—one, his otherwise ordinary father who abused him as a child, and the other, a mugger who almost killed him.

Man Alive engages an extraordinary personal story to tell a universal one—how we all struggle to create ourselves, and how this struggle often requires risks. Far from a transgender transition tell-all, Man Alive grapples with the larger questions of legacy and forgiveness, love and violence, agency and invisibility.

“I bow down to McBee—his humility, his sense of humor, his insightfulness, his structural deftness, his ability to put into words what is often said but rarely, with such visceral clarity and beauty, communicated.”—Heidi Julavits, author of The Vanishers and The Uses of Enchantment

Tuesday, October 14

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACity Lights Books, in conjunction with Litquake present The  Litanies of Noir: A Talk Show. The even begins at 7:30 PM for cocktails, and the event starts at 8:00 PM.

This event will take place at an undisclosed location (and only persons 21 and over will admitted). Admission is free, but only on a first come, first serve basis. Seating is limited and by invitation only.

Invitations become available on Tuesday, October 7, 2014. Invitations may be picked up in-person at the front counter of City Lights Bookstore. Ask for the black envelope at the front counter. It will contain a map and navigation instructions. No reservations shall be accepted. Call City Lights to determine ticket availability (tel. 415-362-8193)

The event will be an evening of literary pathology exposing San Francisco’s sinister underbelly. Hosted by Peter Maravelis, editor of San Francisco Noir, with guests Eddie Muller, David Talbot, and Ben Tarnoff. Music by Mr. Lucky and the Cocktail Party. Don’t miss this event!

Wednesday, October 15

Here on the EdgeCity Lights hosts another Litquake event! Steve McQuiddy, author of Here on the Edge: How a Small Group of World War II Conscientious Objectors Took Art and Peace from the Margins to the Mainstream, discusses World War II conscientious objector camps on the Oregon Coast. The book focuses on one camp, Civilian Public Service (CPS) Camp #56, which was home to the Fine Arts Group at Waldport. The camp became a center of activity for artists and writers from across the country who chose to take a condition of penance and put it to constructive ends. After the war, camp members went on to participate in the San Francisco “Poetry Renaissance” of the 1950s, which heavily influenced the Beat Generation of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg.

McQuiddy is joined by Vlad Dupre and Steve Dickinson to explore a long-neglected element of World War II history: the role of pacifism and conscientious objection in what is often called “The Good War.”

Monday, October 20

jim-lenfesteyJames Lenfestey reads from Seeking the Cave:
A Pilgrimage to Cold Mountain from Milkweed Editions.

In this transformative new book, award-winning poet and essayist James Lenfestey makes an epic journey across the world to find the Cold Mountain Cave, a location long believed to exist only in myths, and the ancient home of his idol Han Shan, author of the Cold Mountain poems and a legend in the history of both Chinese and international poetic tradition.

Interspersed with poems by both the author and Han Shan, Seeking the Cave: A Pilgrimage to Cold Mountain will appeal to lovers of poetry, travel narrative, and poetry alike.

Tuesday, October 21

Wise Latinas Cover WEBWriters Jennifer De Leon, Yalitza Ferreras, Erika Martinez, Ingrid Rojas Contreras, and Blanca Torres read from Wise Latinas, (from University of Nebraska Press) a collection of personal essays addressing the varied landscape of the Latina experience in higher education.

For some Latinas, college, where they are vastly underrepresented, is the first time they are immersed in American culture outside their homes—and where the values of two cultures often clash. Wise Latinas is in part a response to this widening gap.

Featuring acclaimed writers such as Sandra Cisneros, Norma Cantú, and Julia Alvarez, to name a few, Wise Latinas shows that there is not one Latina college experience. With thoughtful and engaging pieces, Wise Latinas provides a platform for Latina writers to share their experiences in higher education and gives a voice to the many Latina women who have taken risks; embraced the new, confronted change; and maintained (and in some cases found) their roots.

Wednesday, October 22

NoFutureThe Baffler, along with MIT Press, releases a collection of genre-bending essays, No Future for You: Salvos from The Baffler. Tom Frank and John Sumners share their work, with topics that range from the ineptitude of Washington, D.C. and the illiberal uses of innovation in liberal Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Baffler embodies, with its internationalist outlook, the most vital tradition of American dissent. In an age marked by avid intellectual logrolling, it has never seemed more imperative.”
—Pankaj Mishra

No Future for You offers the counternarrative you’ve been missing, proof that dissent is alive and well in America. Please be warned, however. The writing that follows is polemical in nature. It may seek to persuade you of something.

Tuesday, October 28

Gerald_NicosiaGerald Nicolsia reads from his collection of poetry Night Train to Shanghai from Grizzly Peak Press.

The poems in Night Train to Shanghai grew out of Nicosia’s several trips to modern China, beginning with his trip to Hefei in 1995 to adopt his six-month-old daughter Wu Ji (now Amy). He later traveled to Chengdu to guest-teach Beat poetry and other subjects to graduate students at Sichuan University, and took his daughter Amy to many cities in China, including her birth-place of Wuhu, when she was ten and had already learned to speak Mandarin.

In the Author’s Preface, Nicosia explains the origins of these poems in “the richness that has come to me by digging a hole in myself that inadvertently let in the other side of the world.”

Wednesday, October 29

Qiu_MiaojinAri Larissa Heinrich in conversation with Scott Esposito discussing the work of Qiu Miaojin, the author of Last Words of Montmartre, translated from the Chinese and published recently by New York Review of Books Classics

When the pioneering Taiwanese novelist Qiu Miaojin committed suicide in 1995 at age twenty-six, she left behind her unpublished masterpiece, Last Words from Montmartre. Unfolding through a series of letters written by an unnamed narrator, Last Words tells the story of a passionate relationship between two young women—their sexual awakening, their gradual breakup, and the devastating aftermath of their broken love.

In a style that veers between extremes, from self-deprecation to pathos, compulsive repetition to rhapsodic musings, reticence to vulnerability, Qiu’s genre-bending novel is at once a psychological thriller, a sublime romance, and the author’s own suicide note.


Phew, that’s a lot of events! We hope if you’re in the Bay Area you can join us. There will be literature, kind authors, books, interesting people, and in some cases some free drinks. Keep it here for the latest updates and goings-on at City Lights Bookstore.



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