MARY ALLEN--The Rooms of Heaven: A Story of Love, Death, Grief, and the Afterlife is the terrible and unwieldy title of Allen's intimate memoir about her breakdown after her lover's suicide. Allen writes with a curiously adolescent wonder at her own search, recounting experiments with automatic writing, the Ouija board, hypnosis; perhaps it is this wonder that prevents her from falling into sentimentality. Elliott Bay, 101 S Main St, 624-6600, 5:30 pm, free.

ANDRE DUBUS III--Dubus has received praise for his cleanly written novel House of Sand, which tackles big and controversial themes such as home vs. ancestry, ownership, and racial hatred. The characters are finely drawn, but the arc of the plot looms large and dramatic: a woman loses her house because of mistaken tax records, and an Iranian family purchases it. The resulting conflamesict may not exactly reach "Shakespearean consequence," as the book jacket claims, but it is tragic. Elliott Bay, 101 S Main St, 624-6600, 7:30 pm, free.


AL FRANKEN--Satirist Al Franken, of Saturday Night Live fame, reads from Why Not Me? The Inside Story of the Making and Unmaking of the Franken Presidency, which purports to lampoon politics from the inside out. University Temple United Methodist Church, 1415 NE 43rd St, 545-4365, 7 pm, free.


KEVIN CANTY--Canty's Nine Below Zero sticks in the psyche. In this dark, arresting tale of the downside of being a Good Samaritan, the main character finds himself involved with a dysfunctional family when he stops to aid a roadside accident. Jim Harrison calls Nine Below Zero "a raw and skin-peeling tale." Elliott Bay, 101 S Main St, 624-6600, 4:30 pm, free.

AFRICAN AMERICAN WRITERS ALLIANCE--Local fiction and nonfiction writers, poets, and playwrights belonging to Seattle's African American Writers Alliance read from ongoing works appealing to a wide range of interests and ages. Elliott Bay, 101 S Main St, 624-6600, 7 pm, free.

*URSULA K LeGUIN--The local grande dame of sci-fi reads as a benefit for Clarion West. See Books Feature article. Kane Hall 220, UW Campus, 545-4365, 7 pm, $4.


TARA BAHRAMPOUR--Bahrampour's memoir To See and See Again is the story of her journey from Iran to the US and back again, setting the course of culture and exile into "a brilliant miniature and a compelling epic," according to Samuel Freedman. Elliott Bay, 101 S Main St, 624-6600, 3 pm, free.

ANNA BALINT, REUBEN RADDING, POLLY BUCKINGHAM, CLIFF GUSTAFSON--Balint--dancer, dramatist, activist--reads from poetry and/or fiction "reflamesective of a multi-cultural outlook," along with Radding--cab driver, bookseller, barista, pornographer--who has 16 albums to his credit and has toured 11 countries, and Polly Buckingham--editor, co-editor, editor again of Stringtown--who has been published in Exquisite Corpse and Point No Point. Magician Gustafson will also appear. Titlewave Books, 7 Mercer St, 324-6379, 7:30, free.


*CARYL PHILLIPS--See Calendar Box. Fifth Ave Theater, 321-2230, 7:30, $7.50-$18.

MARNIE MUELLER--Japanese internment at Tule Lake during WWII drives The Climate of the Country, Mueller's novel of pacifism and family loyalty, penned in quiet and straightforward prose. Mueller's first novel, Green Fires, won a Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award. Elliott Bay, 101 S Main St, 624-6600, 7:30 pm, free.


ANDREI CODRESCU--There is a man who lives in San Francisco who patronizes his public library regularly, walking through the Young Adult section on his way to Adult Literature. He has complained several times about finding Codrescu's novel The Blood Countess shelved in Young Adult, convinced it will turn some unsuspecting youth to dreams of horror. "I don't understand it," he says. "Codrescu seems relatively appealing in his NPR commentaries. Why is he so obsessed with death?" Death and the millennium in Codrescu's newest, Messiah, meet up with a cast of eccentric characters, described by Kirkus as "gratingly whimsical but often very funny." Elliott Bay, 101 S Main St, 624-6600, 7:30 pm, free.

BARBARA TAYLOR BRADFORD--Here's a benefit for PETA's least-favorite charity, the March of Dimes, which may also induce human suffering: i.e., having to actually listen to Bradford read from her new book, A Sudden Change of Heart--described by Kirkus as a "listless... and very tired homage to sisterhood." Maybe you should just mail in your donation. Barnes & Noble, University Village, 624-1373, 7 pm, donation.

SYNAPSE--The locally produced magazine of writing and art by women celebrates five years of non-profit artistic existence (an unexpected and happy occurrence, says one of the staff members) by showcasing women published in the winter issue. Allegro Cafe, 4214 University Way NE, 860-7491, 7 pm, free (donation).


MARTHA BECK--Journalist and college teacher Beck reads from her memoir Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic, about raising a son with Down syndrome. Elliott Bay, 101 S Main St, 624-6600, 5 pm, free.

CHITRA BANERJEE DIVAKARUNI--Divakaruni collected a loyal following with her best-seller Mistress of Spices, and she returns to gratefully rave reviews with her newest, Sister of My Heart, the story of two women raised as close as sisters and separated by arranged marriages. The story of abiding love between women, reportedly a tear-jerker. Elliott Bay, 101 S Main St, 624-6600, 7:30 pm, free.

Note to regularly programmed open mikes: The Stranger will list events only if we receive an announcement--regular listings will be dropped unless we are notified that the events are in fact ongoing.


DEAD POETS--Live poets read from the work of dead poets, every Thursday. Featured readers have included Paul Hunter, Belle Randall, and Robynne Rutherford. The Pearl Cafe, 4215 University Way NE, 547-3326, 8 pm, free.


livingroom--Every Monday about this time, people read and rant and play music. Habitat Espresso, 222 Broadway E, 689-8661, 7:30 pm, free.


HOMELAND--The homiest of open mikes. Globe Cafe, 1531 14th Ave (at Pine), 324-8815, 7:30 pm, free.


THE BLINDMAN'S BAIL--A new monthly open mike that invites creative people of all sorts to strut their stuff. Hosted by Hope Amico. Sweet Springs Cafe, 56th & University NE, 8 pm, free.

CHAOS MICROPHONE--Sold your soul for the perfect word? Then you're welcome at this weekly open venue which warns that "you will undergo some metamorphosis." Coffee Messiah, 1554 E Olive Way, 860-7377, 7 pm, free.

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