We’re definitely a nation of doubters, especially when it comes to books. Authors who write memoirs are inevitably accused of making things up. And readers often suspect novelists are just offering thinly veiled portraits of themselves.
Fact is fiction, and fiction is fact.
I learned this firsthand when my first novel SoMa came out. It’s set in San Francisco’s gritty South of Market and follows young people on a journey of thrills and self-discovery, much of it involving sex. Even though it’s clearly labeled fiction, people believed it was my own personal story.
“Well, you seem to know an awful lot about this SoMa sex stuff,” they’d say, followed by a raised eyebrow, a smirk, and maybe a nudge.
Before writing fiction, I worked in journalism. In all those years, I wrote countless stories about murders, and yet no one ever said, “Well, you seem to know an awful lot about that murder,” as if I had something to do with it.
Sex is different. If you write about it, it must be some sort of unnatural obsession. Forget the fact that sex is where we all started (what, you were cloned?), if you write about it, there must be something pervy about you.
Well, sex in literature is finally getting its due. A tribute, no less!
On Sunday, August 3rd, Litquake – San Francisco’s Literary Festival – is hosting Dirty Words: Litquake’s Tribute to Smut.
There will be readings and performances by many talented, wonderful writers who have included sex in their books. You’ll get to see a different side of Daniel Handler, otherwise known as the world famous children’s book phenom Lemony Snicket.
A dirty Snicket? Interesting…
And then there’s Ellen Sussman, who has put together a new literary encyclopedia of sex. She’s a bestselling novelist, mom of two girls, and she can tell you what the expression “dirty sanchez” really means.
There will be a fashion show, Burlesque, food and drinks, and the Georges Bataille Egg Tossing Contest (okay, I made that last one up).
Best of all, it’s “sex” for a good cause. The event is Litquake’s annual fundraiser. The festival attracts 10,000 each fall, with most events completely free. Volunteers work year-round to put it all together, with help from places like Book Passage, one of Litquake’s earliest supporters. But the festival also needs cash, and the money raised from “Dirty Words” will go to paying the bills.
Dirty Words: Litquake’s Tribute to Smut
Sunday, August 3 – Doors open at 7 p.m.
Readings and show begin at 8 p.m.
CELLspace, 2050 Bryant Street, San Francisco
Admission: $25, which includes two drinks
Advance tickets strongly recommended:
I’ll be there. I’m really looking forward to hearing Daniel Handler read a sex scene (no, not from Lemony Snicket, but from one of his grown-up novels). And I’ll do my best not to say to him, “Well, you seem to know an awful lot about…”