Enthusiasts of the spoken and written word may as well keep the meter running this fall. Here are just a few of the highlights from the local literary scene.
Once a month, the Gist Street Reading Series gives you chapter and verse: readings by talents in fiction and poetry. This month, Pitt writing instructor Irina Reyn holds down the prose side. Her 2008 novel, What Happened to Anna K., is a modern retelling of Anna Karenina, set among a Russian immigrant community in NYC. Reyn will be joined by poet Kristin Naca, whose Bird Eating Bird has been nationally acclaimed.www.giststreet.org
As an instructor and editor, Michael Wurster has been a linchpin of Pittsburgh poetry for years. But he also writes the stuff. Tonight he marks the release of his new collection, The British Detective, at the South Side's Pittsburgh Steak Company. 412-381-5505
Best known as a short-story writer, Lorrie Moore hasn't written a novel in more than a decade. But she's back with A Gate at the Stairs, a coming-of-age novel set in America's heartland after the 9/11 attacks. The New York Times calls it an "indelible portrait of a young woman ... and her initiation into the adult world of loss and grief." She visits Carnegie Music Hall for the Drue Heinz Lectures. 412-622-8866 or pittsburghlectures.org
Artist Stephanie Smith lectures in conjunction with an exhibit at Carnegie Mellon University's Miller Gallery, 29 Chains to the Moon. Miller's contribution to the show proposes "Cul-de-Sac Communes" and other experimental approaches to modern living. A gallery workshop session precedes her talk (412-268-2409). Elsewhere on campus, novelist Meg Wolitzer reads at CMU's Baker Hall, as part of the Department of English's Adamson Reading series (412-268-6094).
This year's Drue Heinz Literature Prize goes to Anne Sanow for her work Triple Time, a collection of short stories about Americans living in Saudi Arabia back in the 1980s. Hard as it may be to imagine Americans struggling in the Middle East these days, Sanow's book explores the tensions between wealth and poverty, modernity and tradition, globalism and insularity. As part of the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series, she'll accept the honors and do a reading at the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium. Also attending will be Drue Heinz judge Ann Patchett, author of books including Bel Canto -- another story of not-so-innocents abroad. 412-624-6506 or www.english.pitt.edu
As the G-20 proves, Pittsburgh can be an international city when the mood strikes it. And we'll have another chance to see the world on a one-zone bus pass when Paul Theroux, the country's best-known travel writer, sojourns here. He'll discuss his latest -- Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, about a rail journey through Asia -- at the Drue Heinz Lectures.
Tom Wolfe helped remake American literature, and defined whole eras with books like Bonfire of the Vanities. He also made wearing white suits a viable fashion choice. He'll be coming -- well after Labor Day -- to the Drue Heinz lectures. His new novel, Back to Blood, is billed as a take on "class, family, wealth, race, crime, sex, corruption and ambition." That doesn't leave much for a sequel, so catch him while you can.
C.D. Wright's latest book of poems -- Rising, Falling, Hovering -- is filtered through her assessments of post-9/11 foreign policy. It won Canada's Griffin Prize for poetry, proving that honest assessments of U.S. policy are always appreciated -- in other countries. She'll take part in a live interview titled "The Future of Poetry" with Pitt professor Dawn Lundy Martin, as part of Pitt's Contemporary Writers Series.
A teacher of poetry and founder of local poetry imprint Autumn House Press, Michael Simms has been a mainstay in the literary scene. Tonight he offers yet another contribution, celebrating the release of a chapbook, "Black Stone," at Squirrel Hill's Te Café. 412-422-8888
Junot Díaz's first novel, the Pulitzer-winning The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, was an often scathingly funny depiction of two kinds of outsider: nerds and Latino immigrants. He comes to Drue Heinz Lecture Series -- just a few blocks from Phantom of the Attic comics -- for a reading.
Pittsburgh gets a visit from restaurateur and TV chef Lidia Bastianich -- just in time to help you brace for the onslaught of in-laws who expect you to cook holiday meals for them. She's at the Drue Heinz Lectures.