Upcoming events in Austin's literary life.
George Saunders and his demented, hilarious imagination (Pastoralia, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip) will be coming to Austin on Thursday, April 12, at 7:30pm in the fourth floor auditorium of the Harry Ransom Center on the UT campus (21st & Guadalupe). Open and free to the public. Call 471-1601 for more information. I thought Pastoralia was the best book I read in 2000, and here's part of the reason why: There is an Aunt Bernice, whose body parts keep falling off now that she's died and come back to life in the easy chair of her relatives' apartment; and there is a Janet, who works at a re-enactment theme park where she and a colleague have to pretend to be cavemen, and she's in serious danger of being ratted out for violating the rules of being a good cavewoman. Why can't she just get with the program and start "thinking positive/saying positive"? Despite all that, Saunders' talent is for making the banal very, very funny Fantasy author Michael Moorcock began his acclaimed Elric Saga in 1972 with Elric of Melniboné, and then continued it in 1991 with The Revenge of the Rose. Now Warner Books is publishing The Dreamthief's Daughter: A Tale of the Albino, in which Moorcock continues his concept of the multiverse -- multiple parallel worlds that coexist. The last albino is Count Ulric von Bek, the only living son of a vaunted German family that has collected mythical objects of power throughout centuries; his cousin, Gaynor von Minct, embraces a Germany where "boots, blackjacks, and whips are the instruments of political policy." BookPeople will be throwing a launch party for Moorcock and the new book on April 12 at 7pm Kathleen Cleaver, who holds the Joanne Woodward Chair in Public Policy at Sarah Lawrence College, will present a lecture on comparative ethnic studies titled "Black Power, White Power, or Power to the People?" in the Bass Lecture Hall at the LBJ School on the UT campus at 7pm on Thursday, April 12. Since her tenure as the first woman on the Black Panthers' central committee during the Sixties, Cleaver's activism and research have centered on multiethnic struggles for human rights, women in revolution, and the role of race in critical legal studies. She has served on the Georgia Supreme Court Commission of Racial and Ethnic Bias in the Courts and on the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights. Sponsored by the Office of Graduate Studies and the Center for Mexican American Studies The Austin International Poetry Festival (AIPF) is one of the largest open poetry festivals in the nation "if not the world," AIPF organizers suggest. Now in its ninth year, AIPF takes place April 19-22 at a variety of venues around town from bookstores to the Heritage House (810 E. 13th); most of the events are free. James Hoggard, who just stepped down as Texas' poet laureate (Walt McDonald is currently the Poet Laureate), is one of the featured poets, as are David Watts, an NPR commentator and author of Taking the History and Making; Jane Baranow, who's married to Watts and whose first full-length book of poetry, Living Apart, has recently been published; and Gayle Danley, the 1994 National Poetry Slam champion. See www.aipf.org for a complete schedule.