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By Olivia Boler
If you missed out last fall on the various readings and events at Litquake, San Francisco's premier literary festival, do not despair. Our friendly neighborhood association has come up with a literary jolt of its own.
From March 26 to 28, Noe Valley's three independent booksellers, Cover to Cover Booksellers, Phoenix Books & Records, and the San Francisco Mystery Bookstore, will host the first Noe Valley Authors Nights, a free series of readings, signings, and even cupcakes.
All of the authors featured hail from Noe Valley or have a Noe Valley connection, and each bookstore will have its own theme. Mysteries will hold sway at--you guessed it--the Mystery Bookstore; children's books at Cover to Cover; and books for adults at Phoenix Books & Records.
The first event will take place on Monday, March 26, at the Mystery Bookstore at 4175 24th Street, and will feature three local mystery writers, including Noe Valley author Cara Black, who has written seven novels featuring Aimée Leduc, a French-American investigator who lives in Paris. Black's latest novel is Murder on the Ile Saint-Louis, published this month by Soho. (See story, page 15.)
Reading with her will be another longtime resident, Michael Castleman, who has penned two mysteries that take place in San Francisco: The Lost Gold of San Francisco (21st Century, 2003), which will be out in paperback this month, and his latest novel, Death Caps, due out in April from Last Gasp. Castleman is also the author of several books on health, healing, and sexuality.
Last but not least is Mark Coggins, a Noe Valley ex-pat who has written three mysteries in his August Riordan, P.I., series, the latest titled Candy from Strangers (Bleak House Books, 2006). His first novel, The Immortal Game, was nominated for three mystery book awards.
The readings and book signings at the Mystery Bookstore will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., and wine and cheese refreshments will be served.
On Tuesday, March 27, Cover to Cover Booksellers at 1307 Castro Street will host three local children's book writers--Lynn Hazen, LeUyen Pham, and Vivian Walsh--from 5 to 8 p.m. Bring the kids for a little pre-dinnertime reading and sweets--cupcakes will be on hand.
Lynn Hazen is the author of the picture book Buzz Bumble to the Rescue (Bloomsbury, 2005) and the novel Mermaid Mary Margaret (Bloomsbury, 2004), for children in middle grades.
LeUyen Pham, who has worked at Dreamworks Feature Animation (and seen the Pope three times), according to her clever web site, www.leuyenpham.com, is the author and illustrator of the picture book Big Sister, Little Sister (Hyperion Books, 2005). She also has illustrated five other books.
Vivian Walsh, co-author of Olive the Other Reindeer (Chronicle Books, 1997) among other popular picture books, rounds out the Cover to Cover set. Children as well as adults love her Olive, Space Monkey, and Mr. Lunch characters.
The last night of literary lavishness will take place on Wednesday, March 28, at Phoenix Books at the corner of 24th and Vicksburg streets. The featured writers cater to grown-up readers, and therefore, grown-up refreshments will be on hand: cocktails and...pie.
Readings will kick off with Tamin Ansary, author of the groundbreaking West of Kabul, East of New York (Picador, 2003), a memoir that grew out of an e-mail he sent on Sept. 12, 2001, which reached millions of people. Following him will be Josie Iselin, a fine art photographer who will present her book Beach Stones (Abrams, 2006). Janis Cooke Newman, author of Mary (MacAdam Cage, 2006), a novel about Mary Todd Lincoln, and The Russian Word for Snow (St. Martin's Griffin, 2002), a memoir about adoption, will also read and share writing experiences.
This event will run from 7 to 10 p.m. It's also the last day of Phoenix's 22nd anniversary sale and celebration, and everything in the store will be 40 percent off.
Noe Valley Authors Nights is sponsored by Friends of Noe Valley in cooperation with the three bookstores.
Friends president Richard May says the goal of the series is "to highlight the great author/illustrator/photographer talent we have in Noe Valley, and to provide another way for residents to get together for something fun. If residents and the bookstores agree that it's a success, we'll do it every year."