Fresh on the heels of World War II, San Francisco was dipped in a dark coat of paint, plunged into fog, and turned into the backdrop for the 1947 noir classic Dark Passage. This Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall vehicle portrayed the Golden Gate city as a cozy little town in which everyone seemed to know each other. That’s not as nice as it sounds, however. Bogart and Bacall are badgered by nosy neighbors, suspicious lawmen, and weirdos with empty rumble seats, all eager to turn in Bogart’s Vincent Perry, an escaped con, to the authorities. Those big California skies and bustling streets that should have been filled with settling sailors were tossed out in favor of the terrifying boxlike world of a classic film noir. Noir has been making a comeback in recent years — though it really never left. The genre has been with us all this time, watching, taking notes, sending them to the police, and inducing paranoia in a whole new generation of fans. These days, however, the best noir tends to be on paper rather than celluloid. Novels like David Corbett’s Done for a Dime, Kate Braverman’s Lithium for Medea, and Domenic Stansberry’s The Confession pick up where Stanley Kubrick and Delmer Daves left off.
This Thursday, Berkeley plays host to a cavalcade of noir authors, including Peter Maravelis, David Corbett, Kate Braverman, Eddie Muller, Robert Mailer Anderson, Domenic Stansberry, and Peter Plate. They’re all featured in the newly released San Francisco Noir (Akashic, $14.95), a compilation edited by Maravelis. The reading begins at 7 p.m. at Black Oak Books, 1491 Shattuck St., in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto. Be sure to wear a fedora, and cast an eye over your shoulder to make sure you’re not being followed. For more details, visit BlackOakBooks.com or AkashicBooks.com — Alex Handy
Europe or Asia?
Once upon a time, there was cash flow. At Concord Library, Berkeley biz whiz Jim Horan, entrepreneurial author of The One-Page Business Plan, explains how to start with a vision and build a company (Wed., 7 p.m.). … A little girl’s disappearance shatters a happy family in Amanda Eyre Ward‘s novel How to Be Lost. Find Ward at A Great Good Place for Books (Wed., 7 p.m.). … So many crimes in the cool gray city. Dashiell Hammett expert and literary tour guide Don Herron, author of The Dark Barbarian, hosts a Hammett slide show at the Danville Village Theater, 233 Front St. (Wed., 7:30 p.m.). … His own Welsh/Chinese roots and live/work stints from Malaysia to Michigan infuse Peter Ho Davies‘ stories with a sensitivity for the borderlines between inside and outside, solid and ethereal. He reads from Equal Love in the Soda Activity Center at Mills College (Wed., 7:30 p.m.). … Islanders, strippers, sailors — local raconteur and circumnavigator Eric Hansen has met them all, and reads from his collection The Bird Man and the Lap Dancer at Diesel (Thu., 7:30 p.m.). … A bail bondsman re-enters the hell of a bygone war to help his half-Vietnamese client find her American father in Robert Greer‘s novel Resurrecting Langston Blue, and uncovers journalistic fraud and military death squads. Meet Greer at Oakland’s African-American Museum and Library (Sat., 7 p.m.). … Bough down with New York Times columnist William Bryant Logan, author of Oak: The Frame of Civilization, at Mrs. Dalloway’s (Sun., 3 p.m.). … Stanzas, not swords: It’s a Poetry Faceoff with Oakland Slam Master Nazelah Jamison and performance poet Selene Steese at Priya Indian Cuisine (Mon., 7 p.m.). … For your Tuesday-morning smackdown — World Wrestling Entertainment babe Christy Hemme introduces DIVA, a photojournal about the Divas of WWE, at Borders Pleasant Hill (Tue., 11 a.m.) … He’s got so much to say about so, so much. William T. Vollmann, author of Europe Central and other very long works, reads in the Mills Hall Living Room at Mills College (Tue., 5:30 p.m.). — Anneli Rufus
He Was Here a Minute Ago
At the Oakland Zoo’s Brew at the Zoo party, in which adult visitors pay a premium to enjoy various craft beers and snacks while mingling with the lemurs, fruit bats, and aldabra tortoises, people are encouraged to come out and act like, well, animals. The brews are from Firestone Walker Brewery, the eats are sausages and waffles, and the critters are mostly from Africa and Asia. ‘Twas ever thus. The excuse for the event is the completion of the Valley Children’s Zoo, capping a twenty-year program of expansion and renovation. But really — turning a group of inebriated humans loose on unsuspecting animals? Just behave yourself when it’s time for the alligator feeding demo. Did we mention there’s also live music? You must be 21 or older to have a brew at the zoo. Tickets are $30 per person, available at OaklandZoo.org. The zoo is in Knowland Park, 9777 Golf Links Rd., Oakland, off Highway 580. Call 510-632-9525 for more info. — Kelly Vance
Sheryl shows ’em how it’s done
The real reason Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France seven times may not have been steroids, but love. When you have a rock-star girlfriend, it takes an awful lot to impress her, and becoming the all-time world-record holder in one of the sporting world’s most celebrated events is at least a start. In any event, Armstrong’s honeybunch, Sheryl Crow, isn’t waiting around by the ranch in Texas, knitting and cooking pot roasts. After releasing a new album, Wildflower, which debuted at #2 on the Billboard charts, she’s going out on tour, just like any respectable, platinum-selling singer-songwriter in her forties would. Speaking of Ms. Crow’s age, she wears it well. Her continued success — remarkable in a field dominated by much younger artists — is a validation that women can rock at any age. This Friday, Crow will tell you exactly why “every day is a winding road” at the Greek Theatre, Hearst Ave. at Gayley Rd., Berkeley). Tickets are $35.50-$65.50. Visit APEConcerts.com for more details. — Eric K. Arnold