We began this week with a great big gaping void: the very excellent London Word Festival has come to an end (though you can watch highlights here), and our nearly 40-day-long combination chocolate and carbon dioxide fast has left us, well, a bit snippy (we’ll certainly be biting the heads off those cloyingly cute Lindt bunnies come this weekend). In short, we didn’t have great expectations for the week. Yet, after taking a look at this week’s literary lineup, hope springs eternal again. Soho Noir? Fifty Years of Counterculture? Oulipo poetry? Hurrah! And there was much rejoicing.
Monday: Bonne semaine de la langue française! Or something. Yes, it’s French Language Week (who knew?). To celebrate it properly, head to the Institut français for a discussion of Georges Perec’s brilliant Life: A User’s Manual (La Vie mode d’emploi). Haven’t read it? We think you’re in for a treat. Perec takes a maddeningly mathematical approach (based on the techniques of the Oulipo group) to his cataloguing of life in a Parisian apartment building, and the result is surprisingly and enormously affecting. David Bellos, Perec’s award-winning English translator, will be among those celebrating Perec’s work this evening. 7.30pm, £3 tickets, £2 concessions.
Tuesday: And speaking of Perec and those crazy Oulipians, the Institut français hosts another event tonight at the Calder Bookshop, this devoted to the work of current practising Oulipo poets Ross Sutherland, Tim Clare and Joe Dunthorne (who was wearing his first-time novelist hat when we introduced you to him a few weeks ago). Find out what happens when you attempt to compose poetry using only one vowel – or impose other such constraints on your writing. (Does it drive you to drink? That would be our guess.) 7.30pm, £3 tickets, £2 concessions.
Also on tonight: Granta: Hidden Stories at the Soho Theatre (7pm, £5 tickets, £3 concessions); poets Dorothea Smartt and Lea Thorn in Excavations at the JCC Lit Cafe (8pm, The Roebuck, £5); and Hanif Kureishi, reading from his latest, Something to Tell You, and discussing his work, at the Southbank Centre (7.45pm, £10 tickets, £5 concessions).
Wednesday: Is it just us, or is Iain Sinclair everywhere? No matter – the man can spin a mesmerizing yarn like no other, and we’ll happily accompany him down that story-telling rabbit hole time and again. Sinclair appears tonight at the Wheatsheaf for the Sohemian Society’s Soho Noir: Lost London Fiction to discuss two recently reissued 1930s London novels, Gerald Kersh’s Night and the City and James Curtis’s The Gilt Kid. 7pm, £6.
Also on tonight: the Spring issue launch of Poetry London at Foyles (6.30pm, free); and Haifa Zangana, discussing City of Widows: An Iraqi Woman’s Account of War and Resistance at Housmans (7pm, free).
Thursday: It’s all about the bohemians, baby. Poets on Fire (careful!) presents Michael Horowitz: 50 Years of Counterculture from the Beat Generation to the New Wasteland tonight at the London Print Studio. The event includes a screening of Wholly Communion, a documentary featuring Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and other Beat poets performing at the Royal Albert Hall in 1965, and readings from Horowitz’s own work, including the recent A New Waste Land. 7.30pm, free.
Also on tonight: Brian Turner, reading from Here, Bullet a collection of poems based on the author’s experiences in the Iraq war, at the Southbank Centre (7.45pm, £7.50 tickets, £3.75 concessions); and Booker prize nominee Ali Smith, reading from Girl Meets Boy, alongside poet/playwright/screenwriter Naomi Wallace, at the Charing Cross Borders. Hosted by Br•\nd Magazine (6.30pm, free).
Know of an event that belongs in the Book Grocer listings? Please e-mail us at londonist-at-gmail-dot-com.
Image courtesy of LexnGer’s flickrstream