where the writers are
Elegant Book-signing Luncheon in SF tomorrow—also Tobias Wolff in New Yorker
The Top Literary Event of the Year


I’ve volunteered at the Kidney Foundation Literary Luncheon for the last six years.  I work with the authors to keep the long book-signing lines as short as possible.  If you’re in San Francisco and can come, do.  This year it’s at the Mariott SF Marquis Hotel.  Michael Krasny will MC: guest authors are Russell Banks, Sarah Brokaw, Melissa Clark, Erik Larson, Kathryn Otoshi, and Jacqueline Winspear.

Most guests come around ten or ten-thirty and buy books from Book Passage, get them signed, go to the lunch and then get one or two signed after lunch and head off for more SF pre-Christmas shopping.  Can you believe Santa comes in two months?

I’m hoping to work this year with Russell Banks; in previous years I’ve worked with such great authors.  One year it was Tobias Wolff, who has a short (roughly a thousand words) memoir piece in the October 10, 2011 New Yorker (p. 100) called “Stealing Fire.”  The protagonist is dealing with his brother and father as he escapes the middle-class life he’s born into by snagging a scholarship to a prestigious boarding school.  I have great respect for Tobias because he has the courage to re-work the same ground many times from different angles, always remaining fresh.  We know the characters from Toby’s other writings, including This Boy’s Life and Old School, so we can easily start in the middle of a short piece here where the protagonist steals his father’s cigarette lighter.  My only reservation stemmed from trying to imagine Tobias so taken with men’s fashion accessories, but of course the protagonist was fifteen, and the times were different too.