A table piled high with books evokes the same tantalizing hope as a passing dessert cart: so much anticipation, so much possibility promised by those delectable mounds. Book fairs take that idea to a new level with the promise of an entire afternoon spent dipping into one volume after another, sharing tastes of this book or that with friends or loved ones.
At the Second Annual City College Book Fair, a veritable smorgasbord of literary delights will clutter the school's parking lot along B Street downtown.
Or, at least, such is the hope, in light of 2006's less tasty affair. Event organizer Jim Miller blames a rainstorm for the absence of crowds and vendors last year. The parking lot certainly looked barren--a lone taco cart fed the few who assembled, and a tough few book vendors found cozy spots in small rooms that opened to the outdoors. There's nothing like water falling from the sky to keep book sellers away in droves. Though some 50 vendors had reserved space, Miller said, only 30 or so turned out, and it sure seemed less than that to attendees. Even inside the auditorium, a hushed intensity greeted authors like San Diego's own Mike Davis, but the chairs were only sparsely filled.
This year, though, expect crowds. On principle, Miller does not charge vendors for table space, and he hit his maximum of 60 vendors long ago. Former California poet laureate Quincy Troupe will grace the stage on Friday night, and Saturday Amiri Baraka and Oakley Hall will read from their latest works. On display will be wares from small independent presses, independent bookstores and event sponsors (which, this year and last, include CityBeat). 'Giant chain bookstore' will not be represented at the City College Book Fair.
'We really wanted to have an event that spoke to the population here at City College,' Miller said. 'Get a racially diverse group of authors to come, make sure it was free, encourage people who might not normally come to an event like this.'
Miller has slowly been building up the literary scene around City College for at least a decade: The literary journal City Works, which Miller co-edits, is now passing its 10th year, while the small press by the same name will soon celebrate its fifth anniversary. Miller sees the book fair as an extension of a diversity-focused reading series that Troupe used to host when he was teaching at UCSD.
'I think that it's very important that Mexico and the U.S. communicate with one another on a cultural level, on a business level and on geopolitical, geoliterary and geoartistic levels,' Troupe said.
To that end, several writers with Mexican roots will do readings, including Denise Chavéz and Daniel Reveles.
'We want this to be a much more welcoming, community, non-corporate event,' Miller said. 'It should be one of the more free, open and diverse cultural happenings in the whole city.'
The San Diego City College International Book Fair will host events Tuesday, Oct. 2, through Saturday, Oct. 6. www.sdcitybookfair.com or email@example.com. Free.
The Cinema Sud Italian Film Festival runs from Oct. 12 through 25 at MoPA in Balboa Park. www.cinemasud.com or 619-521-0977.
But wait, there's more
A good book has no ending
Revenge of the Donut Boys: Mike Sager could make a story about a dead aardvark seem interesting. The man has skill when it comes to writing real-life tales that are better than fiction. Revenge of the Donut Boys, a collection of pieces, mostly from Esquire, will have you hanging out with death-metal gods and chatting about psychoses with Roseanne Barr, among the true yet somehow otherworldly situations. 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16 at Warwick's Bookstore, 7812 Girard Ave., La Jolla. Free. www.mikesager.com or 858-454-0347.
The Unmaking of Americans: 7 Lives: Iconic San Diego author/activist/artist Mel Freilicher reads from and discusses his latest book, which weaves together true-life tales about fascinating, sometimes troubled, people: Bettie Page, Dorothy Dandridge, Joey Stefano, Margaret Fuller, Margaret Sander, Bayard Rustin and Billy Strayhorn. Your guide is a semi-fictional/semi-autobiographical writer and academic who takes a hard look at his subjects' messy lives as well as his own. 7 p.m. Oct. 26 at D.G. Wills Books, 7461 Girard Ave., La Jolla. Free. 858-456-1800 or www.dgwillsbooks.com.
13th Annual San Diego Jewish Book Fair: It may be the book fair's unlucky-number year, but the lineup reflects some lucky scores. On Tuesday, Nov. 6, Angels in America scribe Tony Kushner will give a talk, and the following evening features provocative feminist author Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Nov. 1 through 10 and Nov. 27, Lawrence Family Jewish Center, 4126 Executive Drive, La Jolla. Free to $15.50 for evening author lectures. 858-457-3030 or www.lfjcc.com.
Emma and the Buddha Frog: Local poet and CityBeat contributor Michael Klam has a new collection of poetry and prose for all you word lovers out there. Drop in on the Drunk Poets Society, listen to Klam read (hearing his poetry aloud is a required experience) and buy the man a shot of celebratory tequila, or maybe just buy his new book. Nov. 12 at Winston's, 1921 Bacon St., Ocean Beach. Free. www.puna press.com or 619-226-4200.