LITQUAKE: San Francisco’s Premiere Literary Festival is Celebrating 18 Years Proving Words Matter

9 Days of Literary Events Across 40 Local Venues, October 6 – 14


LITQUAKE_coverOver the next few days, San Francisco will remind you again why it is the greatest city on earth. Not only does the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival crank up the volume on Friday for three solid days (Oct 6-8) of sun-filled, free music in Golden Gate Park, but it’s also the opening night of book-loving San Francisco’s premiere event, Litquake, which kicks off 9 days (Oct 6-14) of literary events throughout the city. These two beloved festivals are gifts to the city’s denizens—and a reminder of why there’s no place like home.

This year, Litquake celebrates its 18th year running with a sweeping program highlighting new work on legendary figures such as Joan Didion, Pablo Neruda, Kathy Acker, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Woody Allen, and Charlotte Brontë, as well as sessions with a distinctly local vibe like Sand, Surf and Sartre, Psychedelics and the Pursuit of Happiness, and Vibrator Nation: How Feminist Sex-Toy Stores Set the Business Abuzz.

Multiple events are slated for each day of the festival and the format is varied with “literary lunches,” evening panel discussions, pub trivia, kids’ events, a Barbary Coast Prostitute Walking Tour, and, of course, it all culminates in the monster Lit Crawl on October 14th, when the world’s largest pub crawl mixing books and booze takes over the city and hundreds of authors and readings take place on one glorious evening. The Lit Crawl (Oct 14) event map is here with times and locations of readings which are all free events.

Here are just a few festival highlights taking place at one of the venues: the Swedish American Hall, located at 2174 Market St., San Francisco CA. (Excerpted from the Litquake Festival Guide)

Saturday, October 7 • 8:00pm – 10:00pmScreen Shot 2017-10-02 at 10.30.29 PM

Raw and Savvy: Chris Kraus and the Life of Kathy Acker

Rich girl, street punk, lost girl, icon, scholar, stripper, victim, and media-whore: The late Kathy Acker’s legend and writings are wrapped in mythologies, created mostly by Acker herself. In the new, fully-authorized biography After Kathy Acker, described by Maggie Nelson as “setting the bar for what will surely be a new era of critical and biographical reckoning,” author Chris Kraus (I Love Dick) approaches her subject both as a writer and as a member of the artistic communities from which Acker emerged. In conversation with Dodie Bellamy. Book sales and signing to follow. (Photo of Kathy Acker by Kathy Brew.) $15 adv / $20 door. Get tickets here.


Monday, October 9 • 8:00pm – 10:00pm

Heroes: A Night of Stories with Porchlight

In these villainous times, the Bay Area’s long-running Porchlight storytelling series returns with “hero”-themed tales from Owen Egerton, Laleh Khadivi, Cleve Jones, Amber Tamblyn, Carvell Wallace, and Norman Zelaya. Co-hosted by Arline Klatte and Beth Lisick. Music by Marc Capelle. Doors at 7 pm for Typewriter Rodeo, direct from Austin TX, where poets write poems on the spot, about any topic you suggest. Show at 8 pm. $20 adv / $25 door. Get tickets here.


Tuesday, October 10 • 8:00pm – 10:00pm

Liner Notes: Loudon Wainwright III with Chuck Prophet

With a career spanning more than four decades, Loudon Wainwright III has established himself as one of America’s most enduring singer-songwriters. His songs can be laugh-out-loud funny, but they also can cut to the bone. In his new memoir, Liner Notes: On Parents & Children, Exes & Excess, Death & Decay, & a Few of My Other Favorite Things, Wainwright details the fractured relationships in the Wainwright family throughout generations: the alcoholism, the infidelities, the competitiveness—as well as the closeness, the successes, and the joy. Wainwright performs some of his classics, and discusses his life and work with San Francisco singer/songwriter Chuck Prophet. $20 adv / $25 door. Get tickets here.

Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 10.55.03 PM

Thursday, October 12 • 8:00pm – 10:00pm

Parsing the President: Experts Discuss the Behavior of Donald J. Trump

These are unprecedented times. Never before has our commander-in-chief’s behavior been so puzzling, so laughable, so…troubled? With so many Americans confounded by Trump’s irrational behavior, not to mention odd use of the English language, Litquake has assembled this panel of experts to shed some light. Senator Barbara Boxer addresses his political naiveté, linguist Geoffrey Nunberg helps parse his verbal tics, psychiatrist Dr. Dee Mosbacher sheds light on his mental state, and comedian Will Durst talks about finding humor in this un-funny crisis. Moderated by journalist and author David Talbot. Image by New Yorker cartoonist Tom Toro. Doors open 7 pm. $20 adv / $25 door. Get tickets here.

Litquake runs from October 6 – 14, while many events are free, some require tickets and may sell out quickly.

Build Your Schedule Online- Check out the full Litquake lineup here.





Two Things I Know for Certain…Heaven Will Have Real Bookstores & Dark Carnival Needs Your Immediate Support

OK book-loving community, here’s the deal…

IMG_5428Dark Carnival, Berkeley’s beloved “bookstore of the imagination” is on the verge of closing. All I can say is …Nooooooo! We simply cannot let this happen. If you haven’t been there, picture in your mind’s eye the best spooky, eclectic, sci-fi, mystery, fantasy bookshop in the world. Did you picture a dizzying maze of ingenious books and curious objects piled from floor to ceiling, each more compelling than the last and covering every available surface, with narrow passages that would take more than an afternoon to wind your way through? That’s exactly what a trip to the over the top world of Dark Carnival is. It is our very own Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.

Dark Carnival is a sensory explosion filled with outlandish visual displays and books you can see, touch, and hold—a place where you can read in a quiet corner or have an unexpected conversation. Dark Carnival trades in the magic of experience. In short, it’s everything online ordering is not.

Dark Carnival has been around in all its quirky glory for 41 years (since 1976!) It’s a Berkeley institution that is exceptional for its enchanting displays of the weird and the wonderful—from Theodore Sturgeon, Terry Pratchett and Octavia Butler, to Stephen King, Neal Stephenson and Neil Gaiman, and Clive Barker, Harry Potter and Edward Gorey and the list goes on. It’s where you can grab the newest Saga comic, peruse an extensive selection of graphic novels, games, tarot decks, and other collectibles—and it’s the kind of place where you can bring kids, Grandma & Grandpa, and your friends visiting from out of town and absolutely everyone will find something cool to take home. The place is a mecca for culture junkies. IMG_5433

Proprietor Jack Rems has been running it solo recently. Yet he has provided the community with years of discovery and delight. Right now is the time to show up, show him some love, and let him know that we want Dark Carnival to exist. If you ever loved exploring the scattered treasures among the aisles, go there now posthaste.

“I don’t know how much being able to shop locally means to people anymore,” Jack said on a recent visit.

Frankly, given what’s happening in the world, we desperately need browse-able spaces like Dark Carnival in our communities — places where we can rummage and explore, and discover adventurous writers with books that satisfy our minds’ desire to be transported. For outcasts, book nerds, freaks, and goths, Dark Carnival is like church. It’s not so much a bookstore as it is other-worldly, with all of the eccentricity and funkiness independent bookstore culture has to offer.

Every now and again, I hear someone lament the day that Cody’s Books closed, or Black Oak Books, or…[name your favorite old bookstore.] It doesn’t matter that it’s been a decade or more. People remember their favorite bookstores as if they’re old friends and they are really. And sometimes, we only realize how much we love these friends after they’re gone. But occasionally, IMG_5427very occasionally, we get fair warning, and with it a chance to demonstrate to our friends that they matter, we love them, and we want them around—and maybe, just maybe, we can change the outcome of the situation. Now is one of those times.

Without Dark Carnival, our world will be a little less mysterious, magical, and fantastical. Can we afford that? I say no. Perhaps if we all show up immediately with dollars in hand, we can make this a happy ending after all. Get thyself to the bookstore!


Dark Carnival & Escapist Comics

3086 Claremont Ave
Berkeley, CA 94705

(510) 654-7323


Open – 10:30am-7:00pm

IMG_5464 IMG_5467 IMG_5474 IMG_5462 IMG_5457 IMG_5452 IMG_5467 IMG_5458 IMG_5444 IMG_5436 IMG_5437 IMG_5443



Bay Area Book Lovers: A Quest You Won’t Want to Miss

April 2017 is for Book Lovers

It’s Spring which means emerging from the long winter and getting outside to explore (even if it’s raining!). What better way than to make a point of visiting your favorite bookstores participating in the Book Lover Quest? This month, the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association (NCIBA) has created the Book Lover Quest to get Bay Area book enthusiasts out to visit as many of the 50 participating local bookstores as possible. In fact, if you visit 10 and turn in your form by April 29th, you will be entered in a drawing to win $1,000 worth of books. There will also be smaller prizes given out along the quest. That’s 10 bookstores in 17 days, you can do it!

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 3.07.27 PMIndependent Bookstore Day is April 29th

Plus, April 29th is the Third Annual Independent Bookstore Day and local stores will be celebrating with special events you can plan your day around. You can start out with many of the early kids’ events, stroll over in the afternoon to Mrs. Dalloway’s where there will be a garden raffle and marathon reading of the eponymous classic, then on to a literary happy hour from 4-5pm at Diesel Oakland, and wind your way over to the live music event at Pegasus Oakland or Solano at 7pm, plus super cool bookstore swag and more events are available at many of the other participating stores so check listings. Mark your calendar for this special day on April 29th which is taking place at more than 500 independent bookstores across the country.

We’re lucky to be in the Bay Area where we have a thriving bookstore community. It’s time to celebrate and show our independent bookstores why we love and need them. You can pick up the Book Lover Quest form at any of the participating bookstores or download it here. It’s an impressive map of local independent bookstores you can keep around and show off (I mean “share”) when your friends from out-of-town visit.


JOIN THE BOOK LOVER QUEST – Win $1,000 worth of BOOKS!

Running through APRIL 2017 
RULES: The rules are easy. Take the form and visit stores throughout the month of April. Stores sign off on their bookstore line. On April 29, customers will turn in their Quest Forms and those who visited 10 or more stores will be entered in the drawing to win the library of books we’ve collected (worth over $1000).

For more information visit the NCIBA site.

Walden Pond Books.

How to Love Your Local Bookstore

Whether it’s sneaking upstairs to sit near the window in the poetry room at City Lights or sinking into the big red chair at Diesel, the Bay Area has some of the most revered and iconic independent bookstores. For me, these stores are sacred ground—cherished spaces where I can browse the world of ideas and experience culture.

I firmly believe having a local bookstore enriches a community. It seems clear in uncertain times, community is what we rely on to get through the day—whether that’s a community of like-minded friends, co-workers, or neighbors, or the businesses in the neighborhoods where we shop. As social creatures, we seek the camaraderie of peers for companionship and understanding.

Throughout the East Bay, there are many trusted bookstores that anchor the communities they serve (Laurel Book Store, Walden Pond Books, Mrs. Dalloway’s, Pegasus, Owl & Company, Diesel, Marcus Book Store, Books Inc.) and each is worthy of an idle afternoon.

While it was sad to see some of my favorite stores close over the years (Modern Times, Black Oak, Cody’s, Stacey’s), it’s comforting to see stores like Walden Pond (which has been open for 40 years) and exciting newcomers like E.M. Wolfman (which features an art gallery, art events, and innovative publishing.) In fact, Diesel Books’ owners are ready to move on and recently announced their desire to transfer the store to longtime employee Brad Johnson who is making plans to take over.

Bookstores offer connection to community and culture—connecting ideas and bringing together like-minded people, serving as cultural institutions in our neighborhoods. Where else can we meet authors, browse with relative anonymity, and get exposure to such a wealth of great writing and commentary shaping our world?

Bookstore staff add value to this experience. As real people with real opinions who help us locate things, make suggestions, and reveal details about books and authors that we wouldn’t otherwise know, they enhance our experience of being there in physical proximity to books. Plus, bookstore owners have a commitment to our neighborhoods, making them better, by hiring local people and paying local sales and property taxes. This translates to local jobs and tax revenues that support schools, roads, and infrastructure within our very own communities. You don’t get that when you shop a massive online retailers.

LOAKL was founded on the idea that bookstores are vital and we need to shop at them in person and online. We’re aiming to make it easier to find books across all the local independent bookstores in our area, to help keep dollars within our community.  We source our inventory from local bookstores (for a full list of bookstores we source from and links to their sites check here.)

We believe when customers can find what they want in their neighborhood easily—and support community in the process—there will be no need to go elsewhere.

In 2017, it’s more important than ever that we vote with our dollars to help create the connections and community we want to see in the world. One way to do this is to show local bookstores a little more love. Next time you walk by your favorite bookstore, stop in and tell the person behind the counter how much you appreciate all that they do and why the store holds special significance for you. And maybe more importantly, remember that next time you’re thinking about ordering something online. If we all change our buying behavior, a little love can go a long way.