On the town

Catch me on the outside. Bring jokes.

(Formatting below can be wonky. That's what I get for cheaping on a website)

Cabaret Bastille
July 14, 2011
San Francisco, CA
Event notes: I played the role of Ford Maddox Ford, who I'd never read before, who was a behind-the-scenes man in 1920s Paris who was ugly, a hanger-on, a crony. I don't like his work but I loved reading it. Absinthe was everywhere.

SPD Bee-In (spelling bee + booze + charity)
May 16, 2011
San Francisco, CA
Event notes: In sixth grade, I was the apple of the Spelling World. I was earmarked for county competition, even states. Then I pooched it on the first word: gourmet. At the Bee-In, I came in third, eliminated on "naiad" - a nymphet. Kevin Killian and Sylvia Brownrigg went at it for another half-hour, mowing through words like pyx, erythrocyte and smaragdine before the judge called a tie. 

April 21, 2011
Petaluma, CA
Event notes: One author in the audience had made $11,000 self-publishing on Kindle since February 19. Another landed a three-page spread in the Washington Post magazine through Twitter. Social media is real, baby.

April 17, 2011
Oakland, CA
Event notes: Walking in along Lake Merritt on a sparkling spring day reminds me that the East Bay has its moments. It was a packed house, and I may have even convinced a few of them that Facebook isn't all evil.

Portuguese Artists Colony 
March 27, 2011
San Francisco, CA
Event Notes: It was the Champion's League of Live Writing. Four all of us previously won a Live Writing session - ten minutes of free writing on a prompt. This time, I lost to a guy I'd beaten previously, on the subject of women's underwear. Looks like I need to do more research.

Why There Are Words
March 10, 2011
Sausalito, CA
Event notes: I used to work in Sausalito, for three years. Sleepy, shiny, calm, expensive. You can't beat the way San Francisco sparkles across the Bay. Night holding across the water, clear and magical like a Dutch master. Today a kid jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and survived, uninjured. During the reading, the biggest earthquake of my life hit Japan. And in Sausalito, only peace.

February 27, 2011
San Francisco, CA
Event notes: They had Portuguese singing at the Portuguese Artists Colony for the first time ever. I read a new story that feels suspiciously like an old story. Am I self-plagiarizing already?

The Agony Column Live
February 12, 2011
Capitola, CA
Event notes: Sick sick sick. Capitola seaside and coffee improved things. Then an hour-long conversation about literature with intrepid interviewer Rick Kleffel and neighbor/fellow writer Josh Mohr put me over the heap back to sane. Dairy Queen drive-through on the way home, obviously.

CLASS: Ever Word Matters: Making Sentences that Scream
February 5, 2011
San Francisco, CA
Event notes: I was a little nervous. Six hours of fiction instruction, with me at the middle of it. It was uncommonly warm and sunny, the worst kind of Saturday to spend cooped up reading and writing. Yet  it was interesting, creative, energetic. And at the end, the students were writing much more exciting sentences. The small victories are often the sweetest.

Portuguese Artists Colony
January 23, 2011
San Francisco, CA
Event Notes: The prompt was "my mom is driving me to prison." Then we had ten minutes to write, live, while a band was playing and people were watching and my pits were seating and you could hear the clickety clack of other competitors at the table. Somehow I won out. Later on Cary Tennis told a story about a miniature Liza Minelli who lived under his nuts and Alia Volz read about a pump-up post-prostate penis. Check out the January Mullet below.

The Excelsior Book Club
January 12, 2010
San Francisco, CA
Event notes: Did you know I reference the Excelsior neighborhood three times in The French Revolution? Neither did I. Even though one allusion is prefaced with the word "tacky," the Excelsiestas were tickled. I'll have to work them into more books.

18 Reasons
November 18, 2010
San Francisco, CA 
Event notes: Reading + zany dessert recipe contest = delicious. Our winner made Ugly Pumpkin Betties (you had to be there) with compost cookies coming in second. Esmerelda can only dream.

Stanford Bookstore
November 9, 2010
Stanford, CA
Event note: All my tech people got off the iPhones and Kindles and iPads and IMs and Facebook and email for an old-school in-person talkfest that spilled over into dinner. Stanford may be a country club, but it's a smart one.

Quiet Lightning
November 3, 2010
San Francisco, CA
Event notes: The Giants won the World Series! The Giants won the World Series! Amazing readings from Alia Volz and Jeremy Hatch, among others. The Giants won the World Series!

AIW Pubspeak 
October 23, 2010
Bethesda, MD
Event notes: French food and discussion and my high school physics teacher/lacrosse coach makes for one of the most pleasurable Monday nights than can be had in Bethesda.

Politics & Prose
October 23, 2010
Washington, DC
Event notes: I grew up just up the road from P&P in Maryland. It was a slammed house on a sparkling autumn Saturday afternoon. It was election season, so I had to read a political scene. Yes, you can go home again. 

San Francisco Writers Community
October 17, 2010
San Francisco, CA 94109
Event notes: Dark cafe on a gray autumn Sunday discussing publishing strategies with energetic budding authors. The seasons were changing, and it was nice.

October 10, 2010
Portland, OR
Event notes: So I led a workshop at 9 am on a rainy Sunday morning. I presumed it was the worst time available, but my high school chum (and current Bard professor) Dave Madden pointed out that I'd get the best students. And he was right. It was a full house. Also rocked a reading with Guy Maynard and rocked a social panel with  Liz Prato, Cheryl Strayed and Kaleb Nation. Rainy days in Portland are perfect for literary conventions.

Litquake - Off the Richter Scale
October 3, 2010
San Francisco, CA
Event notes: On a post-pilates panel with the incisive Marta Acosta, the deeply charming Lian Gouw, the un-not-watchable Luke James. Hyla Molander told me a story about giving a pregnant blowjob. Afterward the Giants won the NL West and the Redskins beat the Eagles. Pretty much the perfect Sunday.

A Great Good Place for Books
September 30, 2010
Oakland, CA
Event notes: What an awesome store with awesome fans and awesome literary energy--truly the pearl of Oakland. They even gave me a free book to say thanks. I felt like a kid in a candy store, and all the candy was Butterfingers.

Vermin on the Mount
September 26, 2010
Los Angeles, CA

Event notes: Third reading of the day, and I was giddy. Weird. Stupid weird. Think I got a few laughs. Josh Mohr read about a guy drinking warm beer and wearing a diaper. Los Angeles Chinatown is magical at night. Several people had birthdays and there was light, fluffy cake. LA is a dream. 
Skylight Books 
September 26, 2010
Los Angeles, CA

Event notes: Wearing shorts to a reading! Ridiculous, right? But it was 100 degrees out. I had no choice. Also, an excellent reading at an excellent bookshop. Los Feliz is the Mission of Los Angeles.

West Hollywood Book Fair - Storytelling Stage
September 26, 2010
West Hollywood, CA
Event notes: I accidentally showed up for this one a day early, thereby validating a motto for life: better a day early than a day late. Major heatwave; I dripped sweat onto my book during the reading. Sizzla!

California Writers Club - Marin (debut novelists panel)
September 19, 2010
Corte Madera, CA
Event notes: Tanya Egan Gibson ordered her members to buy books, from debut novelists, at their local indie bookstore. And it worked. How awesome is that? This was a funny, pithy discussion with Kim Culbertson, Carolina De Robertis, Nina LaCour and Jacqueline Luckett about the ol' first-novel hustle. Not to be confused with the first-novel boogie.

Alliance Francaise San Francisco
September 17, 2010
San Francisco, CA
Event notes: Roundtable. French wine. Literary conversation. San Francisco.

Franklin Park Reading Series (with Jennifer Egan -swoon!)
September 13, 2010
Brooklyn, NY
Event report: My agent and editor came out. Jennifer Egan was there. It rained like hell and then it cooled up and the place was electric. Go to this.

Litcrawl NYC: Soft Skull Presents 
September 11, 2010
New York, NY
Event report: Mad props to Anne Horowitz at Soft Skull for giving the most heartfelt, knowledgeable, caring set of intros I've ever heard at a reading. Good lord these people care. Also, Jillian Weise was awesome.

Brooklyn Book Festival (NYC debut!)
September 10, 2010
Brooklyn, NY
Event report: This Debut Lit panel was held in Powerhouse Arena, where we rookie gladiators battled to the death with only fresh flash fiction to defend ourselves. Daphne Beal, Brooke Berman, Sung J. Woo and Aryn Kyle and Maaza Mengiste - boo-yah.

San Francisco Writers Community Monthly Literary Event
September 1, 2010
San Francisco, CA 94109
Event report: Combat operations ceased in Iraq yesterday, so I read a(n anti)war scene. Not funny, not whimsical--"heavy" as one listener told me. But the only scene for the day.

August 19, 2010
San Francisco, CA 
Event report: See how beautiful the event graphic is? Boil that up, distill the gas, and repeat five times, and you'll get a sense of the literary brilliance on display. I'm finally starting to figure out that people love the food scenes, and, seeing that it was dinnertime, I gave the people what they wanted, then had dinner.

Green Apple Books
August 18, 2010
San Francisco, CA
Event report: The granddaddy of em all, fellow Best of SF winner, a true San Francisco institution - what a thrill to read at Green Apple! Also, dear friend, author and hilarious storyteller Meredith Norton swung by and made me feel unabashedly boring.

Red Hill Books

August 14, 2010
San Francisco, CA
Event report: my local bookstore on the afternoon of our best day of the year - the Bernal Heights Garage Sale. On top of a copy of Akira and four stylin Hawaiian shirts, I chatted with my fellow Bernalese on the in and outs of literary revolutions. Life is grand.

Literary Death Match August 13, 2010
San Francisco, CA

Event report: I really did get jobbed on this one. Brought a cap gun to a literary reading and didn't win - it's unheard of! Fortunately, I placed said cap gun into the hands of another disgruntled reader, and the judge behind these blaring injustices all met his maker in the ladies' bathroom. 

Books Inc – Berkeley
July 15, 2010

Berkeley, CA
Event report: Soothing, sunlit afternoon; beautiful wood-paneled bookstore; fresh air and smiles and East Bay placidity. I read some of the evocative foodie scenes in the book, then we went out for sausages and beer. Lovely.


July 14, 2010
San Francisco, CA 94103

Event report: Raucous! Booze-filled! Colorful! Packed! Cake with the book cover on top! My dad laid down French trivia and Joe Manekin of Old World Old School gave away top-shelf French wine which wonderfully tied in with the story. One of the best nights of my life. 

Cafe Bastille
July 13, 2010

San Francisco, CA
Event report: In the calm before Bastille Day, I mingled French-style in Belden Place for a quiet sunlit happy hour. Extremely European, and soothing.

Monthly Rumpus
July 12, 2010
San Francisco, CA 94110

Event report: There's a porn raffle at the Monthly Rumpus, so I kicked my "Oral Sex 'Absolutely' OK" t-shirt from the ol' Yale Rumpus days and read the orgy scene from the book. Hott! (photo courtesy Tim Faust)

Mechanics' Institute - "In and Out of Print: The New World of Publishing" (panel)
June 29, 2010
San Francisco, CA
Event report: The ultimate powerpack with Ransom Stephens, Lisa Alpine, Laura Fraser & Connie Hale. Have you ever been to the Mechanics' Library? There's a crazy old chess room where dusty genui mindbattle for hours. I thought that'd be a terrific name for a book - Death in the Chess Room - and then the hostess told me there HAD been a death in the chess room 3 years ago. Art imitates life.

SXSW "Novel in 2050; Twitter vs. Tolstoy"
March 15, 2010
Downtown Hilton, Austin, TX

Event report: Nothing spruces up a March day like partaking a surprise literary panel at my favorite conference on the planet. Decided: novels in 2050 will still be long, written narratives, processing ideas/events of the era via personal microcosms. But put more gadgets in novels, technophobes; love or hate it, the iPhone is here. 
*Also -
The French Revolution was mentioned as a case study at SXSW. Life dream accomplished.

Babylon Reading Series
March 6, 2010
Cantina, San Francisco, CA

Event report: Shared the stage with e-publishing pioneer Kemble Scott (aka Scott James) and personal literary hero Peter Orner - grab The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo and thank me later. I read the Napoleon chapter from The French Revolution - not as many jokes as Saturday night deserves, but still one of my favorite scenes.

San Francisco Writers Conference
February 12, 2010

Intercontinental Mark Hopkins Hotel, San Francisco, CA
Event report: How do you respond when a 60-something minister points out that none of her friends or target audience is on social media, that it doesn't seem to be a good use of time? "Bring them into the light!" Get it? Minister? Into the light? Badumpching. Terrific lunch talk by Dan Brown alterego/recovering lawyer Steve Berry, terrific lunch chat with Kevin Smokler. The lunch itself was pretty terrific too.

Literary Death Match - Episode 25
January 8, 2010
Elbo Room, San Francisco, CA
Event report: I was the literary merit judge. Unsurprisingly, the winning reading featured a five-minute video of group masturbation. Attempted to hold my own in the judging circle with Ali Liebegott, the funniest fucking person I've met in a decade, and Michelle Tea, SF literary superstar. I left feeling like a slightly more literate version of Kara DioGuardia.

NCBPMA Luncheon
(That's Northern California Book Publishing and Marketing Association for you acronymphomaniacs) 
"Publishing in the Digital Age: Renaissance or Revolution?"
October 26, 2009
Hotel Rex, San Francisco, CA

Event report: Tastebud-tingling lunch plus riveting discussion urging experimentation in the publishing industry. Personal position is that this is a digital revolution - which is why so many publishing powers are raising the castle walls.

Litquake X
October 11, 2009
The Make-Out Room, San Francisco, CA

Event notes: Reading at the Make-Out Room during Litquake combined several of my sexual fantasies in one steaming lump of literature. Better yet--the tortured screams of laughter from the crowd that penetrated my reading. Fiction's always more fun in groups.

Cool Twitter Conference
September 24, 2009
Aquarium by the Bay, San Francisco, CA

Event report: My dog got bit by a pitbull on the morning walk that day, which removed significant spring from my step. Nothing like a Twitter-a-thon amid magnificent fishes to bring back the mojo. Good lord @bobfine is a cool dude.