6/29 at Seattle Mystery Bookshop Hannah Assouline

MON 6/18

Samuel Popkin


Right around now, you should start panicking about the 2012 elections. As we head down the stretch into fall and the general election on November 6, it's time to consider the United States with President Mitt Romney at the helm. Samuel Popkin is a political science expert with an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of presidential campaigns. He's maybe the closest thing we have to a crystal ball when it comes to politics, and his new book, The Candidate: What It Takes to Win and Hold the White House, is the accumulated storehouse of all his knowledge. Town Hall, 7:30 pm, $5

THURS 6/28

Chloe Caldwell and Diana Salier

Cheryl Strayed calls Caldwell's collection of essays, Legs Get Led Astray, "a scorching hot glitter box of youthful despair and dark delight." Topics include love, books, and babysitting. Salier is a poet whose first collection, Letters from Robots, walks a fine line between confessional poetry and fun old science fiction novels. She's a splendid reader of her own work. Hugo House, 7 pm, free

FRI 6/29

Jess Walter

The last time Jess Walter came west of the mountains from his home in Spokane, he wowed a packed room in the Hugo House with a story about zombies working at Starbucks. Now he's coming to town with Beautiful Ruins, a novel about a man who's haunted by a dead actress. It's sure to be funny and involving and packed with the kind of brilliant writing that makes Walter one of the best writers at work in Washington State today. Seattle Mystery Bookshop, noon, free; Elliott Bay, 7 pm, free

Chris Hedges

Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who tackles only the biggest issues of our time—war, religion, and now poverty. His newest book, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, studies Camden, New Jersey, the poorest city in the United States. Hedges examines the ties between poverty, education, and crime (Camden's high schools are currently barely functioning at a mind-boggling 70 percent dropout rate). Days of Destruction is a book that's coming out just in time, addressing a problem that the United States, whether through Occupy or the Tea Party, has been arguing about. Town Hall, 7 pm, $5

TUES 7/3

George R. R. Martin

It'll probably be a while before George R. R. Martin publishes the next novel in his A Song of Ice and Fire series. It'll also probably be a while before the next season of HBO's Game of Thrones comes out. That makes this appearance your best shot at a GoT fix for the next, oh, year or so. Martin will read, answer questions, and talk about whatever tickles his fancy. He owns two cats; I'm sure he'd be happy to talk about them. Town Hall, 7 pm, $10

FRI 7/6

G. Willow Wilson

Wilson is a local author who is best known for The Butterfly Mosque, her memoir about converting to Islam, but she's also written a bunch of great comic books, too, ranging from Superman to her own short-lived conspiracy-minded series Air. Tonight, she debuts her first novel, Alif the Unseen, the story of a young hacker fighting for freedom in a locked-down Middle Eastern country. Things get fantastic soon after—not many books are compared to Neal Stephenson and Neil Gaiman at the same time—and readers are left to question whether this is a thriller with serious philosophical thought thrown in, or a philosophical novel that happens to be structured like a thriller. Elliott Bay, 7 pm, free

MON 7/9

Joe Meno, Nathan Larson, Ryan Boudinot

Office Girl might be Joe Meno's breakthrough novel. Set in 1999, Office Girl tells the story of a pair of young, intelligent drifters who decide to start their own art movement. It's a stripped-down experience of a novel (press materials promise no politics, war, or economic collapses happen during the course of the book), which means Meno's crystalline prose has a chance to shine. Larsen's The Nervous System is the exact opposite of Office Girl—a loud, brash postapocalyptic novel about good guys and bad guys in a trashed New York City. Both authors read with local novelist-made-good Ryan Boudinot, who has experience with both quiet character pieces and noisy dystopian futures. Hugo House, 7 pm, free

TUES 7/10

Connie Willis

July is proving to be a provocative month for science fiction in Seattle. Connie Willis is one of the greats—she's been kicking readers' brains around the inside of their skulls for years with To Say Nothing of the Dog and The Doomsday Book. And she's still putting out critically acclaimed work: In 2010, she published her World War II–set time-travel duology Blackout/All Clear. Expect this to be a freewheeling, career-encompassing chat, which is just the way we like 'em. University Book Store, 7 pm, free

FRI 7/13

Greenwood Lit Crawl

Last March, the APRIL Lit Crawl was a great success, stretching from Bluebird Ice Cream to Piecora's and several other spots on Capitol Hill, culminating in a boozy parking-garage reading from Ed Skoog. Now some participants in the APRIL Lit Crawl are hosting their own three-hour drunky tour through the bars and coffee shops of another highly literary Seattle neighborhood. The press release promises dance, performance art, and more surprises along the way. Readers include Kate Lebo, Brian McGuigan, Paul Nelson, Tara Atkinson, and many more. Starts at Tasty, 7513 Greenwood Ave N, www.fivealarms.wordpress.com, 6:45 pm, free

TUES 7/17

Support The Stranger

Colson Whitehead

Last fall, Colson Whitehead published his zombie-filled novel Zone One to great acclaim. It follows a man known as Mark Spitz as he and a clean-up crew travel around New York, exterminating the zombies left lingering around the office buildings and department stores of the city. Just when you think the zombie concept has been eaten to shreds by inferior authors, Whitehead goes and pumps more themes—race, sadness, identity—into a tired trope, reinvigorating it to shamble the earth for another day. Now that Zone One is in affordable paperback form, you have no excuse for not reading it. Elliott Bay, 7 pm, free

Kelly Link and Gavin Grant

Most publishers are hit-and-miss affairs. Sometimes they publish a few popular stinkers, just to pay for the better-written, more prickly pursuits. But Kelly Link and Gavin Grant's Small Beer Press doesn't make those kinds of compromises. Their mission statement—publish weird fiction and promote that fiction on the quality of its language and the strength of its ideas—sounds an awful lot like the future to me. Other publishers would pigeonhole novels into literary, horror, or science fiction categories; at Small Beer, they're just good. (It probably helps that Link is an excellent writer of short weird fiction in her own right.) This is a rare and welcome opportunity to look behind the scenes of one of the best publishers in the nation today. University Book Store, 7 pm, free

WED 7/18

Mark Baumgarten

Love Rock Revolution: K Records and the Rise of Independent Music is a book that had to be written, but it's still kind of surprising that it's already happened. Olympia's K Records' stripped-down aesthetic battered joyously away at the polished studio ethic that was dominating music for the last few decades. Let's all show up and thank Mark Baumgarten for shaking down Calvin Johnson and friends to tell a story that should be told. Elliott Bay, 7 pm, free

Meghan McCain and Michael Ian Black

Don't even ask me how this happened, because I do not know: The very funny Michael Ian Black has partnered up with John McCain's daughter to write a bipartisan, humorous portrait of our nation in 2012 titled America, You Sexy Bitch. (While Meghan McCain is a terrible writer and not a very bright political thinker, presumably some of Black's comedy chops have rubbed off on her.) Their interviews with average voters about some of the most divisive issues of our time—guns, abortion, gay rights—are sure to be interesting. At the very least, this should be some kind of freak show evening to remember. Town Hall, 7:30 pm, $5

TUES 7/24

Chuck Palahniuk

Say what you will about Chuck Palahniuk—and I have—his first three novels were something special. Now Palahniuk is courting fate by going back and "remixing" Invisible Monsters into a longer, differently shaped novel. Many have tried to produce a director's cut–style novel, but most have failed. We'll have to wait and see if Palahniuk manages to add to his models-on-a-rampage novel—my favorite of his, for what it's worth—or simply destroys it. Either way, it should be interesting to watch, and Palahniuk remains a fantastic reader of his own work. Town Hall, 7:30 pm, $10

TUES 8/7

Nancy Kress

It's been a big year for Nancy Kress. She's published two books already—a postapocalyptic novel titled After the Fall, During the Fall, Before the Fall and a collection of DNA-themed short stories called Fountain of Age—and she's got a young adult novel coming out this fall, too. Though she's a Seattleite, she doesn't make very many local appearances, so this is a rare opportunity to talk to the beloved sci-fi author about why she's so awesome. University Book Store, 7 pm, free

How to Be a Person Launch Party

Christopher Frizzelle, Bethany Jean Clement, Dan Savage, and Lindy West have smooshed together all of The Stranger's collective knowledge into a book titled How to Be a Person: The Stranger's Guide to College, Sex, Intoxicants, Tacos, and Life Itself. This is, of course, a huge conflict of interest, so don't take our word for how great this book is: Dave Eggers says, "About four or five books a year tell the truth," and Person "is one of them." Tonight is the maiden voyage of the book into the world, and the birthing process will involve a reading and a big party with a keg and hopefully some tacos. Elliott Bay, 7 pm, free


Michele Dunkerley

The houses Hank Schubart planned on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia take the environment into account, and they're beautiful—unlike the ubiquitous terrible condos we see everywhere around here, Schubart's houses are beautiful, wood-and-glass constructions that almost appear to have launched themselves out of the cedar and moss surroundings. Dunkerley's book Houses Made of Wood and Light examines Schubart's work and hopefully presents a new road map for Northwest architects to follow. Elliott Bay, 7 pm, free

FRI 8/10

Laurie Frankel

What's summer without a grand romance? Goodbye for Now is a literary novel with lighthearted, amorous intentions. A computer programmer named Sam gets fired from his matchmaking company for being too good at his job. Luckily, things aren't all bad—he's fallen in love with a woman. Unfortunately, that woman's grandmother dies suddenly, and Sam decides to set about creating a computer program allowing his girlfriend the opportunity to speak to her grandmother one last time. That's when things get out of hand. Elliott Bay, 7 pm, free

SAT 8/11

Kate Bornstein

Kate Bornstein was born a man. As a man, she served as a lieutenant on the flagship vessel in the Church of Scientology's mighty fleet. Now she's a lesbian playwright known for her piercing, funny autobiographical pieces. A Queer and Pleasant Danger is her newest book, an account of the wild, weird, and terrible things that happened to her along the way. If that doesn't sound like grist for a memoir to you, you have lived a far more exciting life than the rest of us. Elliott Bay, 7 pm, free

TUES 8/14

Maria Semple

Maria Semple, a Seattle transplant, has worked on TV shows like Mad About You and Arrested Development. But lately, she's been focusing on writing comic fiction about wealthy people who make stupid decisions. Her newest novel, Where'd You Go, Bernadette, makes its world debut tonight, and it will be interesting to see how it's treated locally—it's an epistolary novel written by a woman who just moved to Seattle and totally hates it. Expect to see a lot of local sacred cows led to the slaughterhouse of hilarity. Or something. Elliott Bay, 7 pm, free