Arts » Books

Booksmith seeking word wreckers

by

comment

San Franciscans hungry for innovative and social literary theater are likely to enjoy Shipwreck, a new live competition launching at Booksmith on Thursday.

Dubbed "A Competitive Erotic Fanfiction Event," Shipwreck pits zeitgeist against zeitgeist, asking six writers to come up with a new work by pairing a popular novel with a piece of fiction, be it TV, film, video game or a different book.

On Thursday, the results will be read aloud by host Steven Westdahl. The winner, as judged by audience members (who get beer with their $10 admission), goes home with a prize and chooses the next book to anchor the next Shipwreck

"We create a meeting where the two crash into each other and see what kind of wreckage is produced," Westdahl says. "We're starting off with 'The Great Gatsby.' I think Gatsby may end up meeting Sherlock Holmes, as in Benedict Cumberbatch's 'Sherlock.'"

Shipwreck stems from the mashup concept that birthed "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," which, incidentally, was on the New York Times best-seller list for 50 weeks.

The wildly successful "50 Shades of Grey" — a fan-fiction spinoff from the "Twilight" series that went viral — is not exactly a mashup, but is an example of how popular fan-fiction can become.

"We live in a postmodern situation where not only are all things permissible, but you're not likely the first person to have thought of it," Westdahl says. "Pop culture is there for the remixing and nothing is sacred anymore. Even that which we have determined to be sacred just encourages another group of people to parody it all the more."

Westdahl, an actor and writer who recently toured "A Midsummer Night's Dream" with the San Francisco Shakespeare Company, is no stranger to book-related events. He also co-hosts the monthly event "Write Club," another rowdy, competitive literary night every third Tuesday at the Make Out Room.

"Writers normally work in solitude," Westdahl says. "We like to mix it up and call it a competition and encourage s***-talking among writers. It's everything we loved about debate club back before we were told that being in debate club labeled us as a nerd.

"It's also a format for less-established writers and people who don't consider themselves writers. We've booked stand-up comedians and sound poets, people who exist onstage but don't publish work, and they go up against people who hide away writing all day."

IF YOU GO

Shipwreck: A Competitive Erotic Fanfiction Event

Where: Booksmith, 1644 Haight St., S.F.

When: 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday

Tickets: $10

Contact: (415) 863-8688, www.brownpapertickets.com