San Francisco gets Lit up

Litquake lineup resembles the spirit of rock ’n’ roll

Featuring a selection of punk rockers, metalheads, brooders, poets and partiers, the fifth annual Litquake’s opening-night festivities should set the tone for the entire weeklong event.

Guests include Ray Manzarek (keyboardist for The Doors), Penelope Houston of the pioneering S.F. punk band The Avengers, “King Dork” author Frank Portman (frontman for the Bay Area’s Mr. T Experience), Dan Nakamura, aka, Dan the Automator of Handsome Boy Modeling School, Chuck Prophet, Lars Ulrich of Metallica and local best-seller Dave Eggers. Mark Eitzel of American Music Club will also attend and plans to read from Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s “Journey to the End of Night.”

“I read a lot, but I’m not an intellectual,” Eitzel said. “I was reading that book and I kind of stole a couple of words for one of my songs.”

Former Rolling Stone editor Ben Fong-Torres will MC the event.

“They’re all going to read from a favorite literary person or work and then tie it into their own work,” Fong-Torres said. “It’s interesting that you have all these people from various aspects of pop music, a punk rocker, a metal head and a ’60s icon, so it’s not just a bridge between music and literature but a bridge between all forms of music.”

This devil-may-care, rock ’n’ roll approach continues throughout the week, featuring writers and artists of all different stripes. On Saturday, Fong-Torres will participate in a group of readings at the Koret Auditorium entitled “Noisy Lit: Writers Who Have Been There and Back.” His colleagues will include author Michael Tolkin (“The Player”) and monologist Josh Kornbluth. Other groups reading on Saturday will include legendary beat poet Diane di Prima and local writer/illustrator Lisa Brown.

The Koret will host more readings on Sunday, including appearances by novelist and screenwriter Barry Gifford (“Wild at Heart”) and the wonderful short story writer Gloria Kurian Broder. And on Tuesday night, the theatrical group Word for Word will perform the work of Andrew Sean Greer (“The Confessions of Max Tivoli”).

Other locals such as Eddie Muller, Keith Knight, Eric B. Martin, Daniel Alarcón, Beth Lisick, Michelle Tea, Rachel Howard and Kim Wong Keltner will appear throughout the week.

“I did Litquake last year and it was basically terrifying,” Keltner said. “Public speaking and being a writer are polar opposites, but I try to remember that the audience is made up of individual people. But maybe this will be my last year. I might disappear like Kaiser Soze for the next 30 years so people should catch me while they can!”

Of course, the festival has also invited many up-and-coming writers, notably in its “Barely Published” section.

That’s not all, be prepared for an incendiary night Wednesday with the “America at War” program. Non-fiction writers Lawrence Wright and Mark Danner will be sure to shed some light on Sept. 11, the Iraq War and all surrounding topics.

Things wrap up on Saturday, Oct. 14 with an appearance by children’s author (and sometime actor) Jamie Lee Curtis, as well as the climactic, free “Lit Crawl” down Valencia Street.

Speaking of his tastes in rock, Fong-Torres jokes, “I’m not a metal-head; I’m a egghead.” Either will be welcome at Litquake.


When: Today through Oct. 14


» San Francisco Public Library’s Koret Auditorium, Main Branch,

100 Larkin St., San Francisco

» Regency Center Grand Ballroom, Van Ness at Sutter Street, San Francisco

» Book Passage, One Ferry Plaza, San Francisco

» Edinburgh Castle Literary Pub, 950 Geary St., San Francisco

» The Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk St., San Francisco

» The Foundation Center, 312 Sutter St., Suite 606, San Francisco

» The Swedish American Hall, 2174 Market St., San Francisco

» The Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St., San Francisco

» The Commonwealth Club, 595 Market St., Second Floor, San Francisco

» Intersection Theatre, Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia St.,

San Francisco

» Books Inc. in Opera Plaza, 601 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco

» Varnish Fine Art, 77 Natoma St., at 2nd Street, San Francisco

» Stacey’s, 581 Market St., San Francisco

» Bubble Lounge, 714 Montgomery St., San Francisco

Price: Tickets for opening night are $25; other events range from free to $20

Info: Visit for tickets and complete details

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