What to Do This Fall: Literature

Peruse the fall literary listings—in rhyme

By Brangien Davis

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August 24, 2015

This article originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of Seattle Magazine.

This season’s wealth of literary proceedings
Makes clear that Seattle is a hot spot for readings.
We’ll start things off with the surfeit of memoirists
painting impressions with a skill that’s Renoir-ish.

Writing as if to his own teenage son,
Ta-Nehisi Coates sings the black man unsung.
Steinem reveals her early days as Gloria,
transporting readers to feminist euphoria.
Alison Bechdel pens comics with tooth,
using graphic-novel bite to tell her truth.
Sandra Cisneros limns life as a Latina,
true stories polished to a fine patina.

But wait! There’s much more autobiography,
Let’s rock and roll into the realm of discography.
Take Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney,
whose new book gives us the punk-rock skinny.
While Kristin Hersh of Throwing Muses
reveals how music fame often abuses.
And, thank goddess, Patti Smith is back!
With M Train, she’s barreling down the track.

We can learn much from the nonfiction writers,
so applaud with vigor and hold up your lighters.

Eat, Pray, Love was her first proclivity,
now Elizabeth Gilbert is fostering creativity.
Can working women ever have it all?
Anne-Marie Slaughter lays down the law.
And Philip Warburg joins Denis Hayes
to talk of power gleaned from sun rays.
Humorous history by way of Sarah Vowell
makes General Lafayette good for a howl.
Speaking of funny, here’s David Sedaris
with essays gut-busting (in Latin: hilaris).

With fall comes the longing to read a great novel.
These authors have complied—no need to grovel. 

Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights,
by Salman Rushdie, spawns apocalyptic delights.
Erica Jong, who wrote Fear of Flying,
is bringing sexy back with Fear of Dying.
Isabel Allende takes The Japanese Lover
and tells a big love story under the covers.
Dinaw Mengestu, a proven tour de force,
shares new work along the theme “beating a dead horse.”
And with his new book ’bout a girl without eyesight
Anthony Doerr won the Pulitzer Prize fight.

The lineup continues—it’s jam-packed with Jonathans.
Novelists all? Oh ho, the plot thickens!
Franzen’s latest is no hocus-pocus;
critics say Purity is his magnum opus.
Lethem’s new book deals with body vitality;
he joins David Shields to speak of mortality.
And finally, there’s Evison (of Bainbridge Island),
whose Harriet Chance is big and beguilin’. 

But let’s say short stories are more to your liking.
Choose from two masters—both of them striking.
Joy Williams! Oh, joy! Her dark wit’s the smartest.
The Visiting Privilege proves her strength as an artist.
And Thirteen Ways of Looking is all about chance;
it’s Colum McCann’s invitation to dance.

At last, never least, we welcome the poets
For who better knows whither our hearts goeth?

Saul Williams, a slam poet with wise words to say,
brings hip-hop inflection to his book US (a.)
Priscilla Long’s newest spans all sorts of bridges,
Crossing Over is talent profound and prodigious.
On a visit from Portland, Matthew Dickman makes time—
bid cheers to the wordsmith on his new Guggenheim.
Linda Pastan’s Insomnia has sleep at stake,
But oh, the places you’ll go when you’re awake.

The light at the end of the couplets draws near…
Now go forth and relish the readings this year!

Event Details:

Jonathan Franzen, 9/9. 7:30 p.m. Town Hall

Jonathan Evison, 9/10. 7 p.m. Elliott Bay Book Company

Dinaw Mengestu, 9/11. 7:30 p.m. Hugo House

Salman Rushdie, 9/14. 7:30 p.m. Town Hall

Erica Jong, 9/18. 7 p.m. Elliott Bay Book Company

Priscilla Long, 9/19. 7 p.m. Elliott Bay Book Company

Joy Williams, 9/22. 7 p.m. Elliott Bay Book Company

Saul Williams, 9/24. 7:30 p.m. Seattle Arts & Lectures at Town Hall

Matthew Dickman, 9/29. 7 p.m. Hugo House

Philip Warburg with Denis Hayes, 9/30. 7:30 p.m. Town Hall

Anne-Marie Slaughter, 10/5. 7:30 p.m. Town Hall

Elizabeth Gilbert, 10/6. 7:30 p.m. Seattle Arts & Lectures at Benaroya Hall

Colum McCann, 10/20. 7 p.m. Seattle Public Library

Alison Bechdel, 10/22. 7:30 p.m. Seattle Arts & Lectures at Town Hall

Sarah Vowell, 10/28. 7 p.m. Neptune Theatre

Kristin Hersh, 10/29. 7 p.m. Elliott Bay Book Company

Ta-Nehisi Coates, 10/29. 7:30 p.m. Seattle Arts & Lectures at McCaw Hall

Sandra Cisneros, 11/5. 7 p.m. Elliott Bay Book Company

Carrie Brownstein, 11/6. 7 p.m. Neptune Theatre

Isabel Allende, 11/7. 7 p.m. Elliott Bay Book Company at Seattle First Baptist

Gloria Steinem, 11/8. 7 p.m. Elliott Bay Book Company at Benaroya Hall

Linda Pastan, 11/10. 7:30 p.m. Seattle Arts & Lectures at McCaw Hall

Jonathan Lethem with David Shields, 11/13. 7 p.m. Hugo House

David Sedaris, 11/15. 7:30 p.m. Benaroya Hall

Anthony Doerr, 11/18. 7:30 p.m. Seattle Arts & Lectures at Benaroya Hall

Patti Smith, 11/22. 7:30 p.m. Elliott Bay Book Company at Town Hall

Explore more 2015 Fall Arts events here.

 

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