On our way home from Francis Tapon's REI presentation we couldn't pass up stopping at AsiaSF , a restaurant/dance club in the SOMA. It's described as "the ultimate San Francisco experience"--I'd never been. While diners feast on CalAsian cuisne and drink award-winning wines and cocktails, "miracles of modern science" (described by the witty and well-read MC, Ginger) or, as the website describes them "talented ladies, world famous gender illusionists", parade along the runway in an hourly show, dancing, and READING!

Actually, what I thought was a book was not a book. It's was a recently released calendar, but it got my hopes up and, it turns out, rightfully so. The woman reading it, a beautiful blond in a fabulous Xena Warrior Princess-ish costume, is a big reader. (note to my mom and other conservative folks--AsiaSF is not a strip club) She loves autobiographies, especially the one about Madonna, by J. Randy Tarraborrelli. The last book she read was Contessa, by Jack Fitzgerald. It's about the son of a rural Arkansas despot in the 1940's and 50's who is convinced he is a woman born into a man's body.

Co-owner Skip Young's favorites: House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton and Appointment in Samarra, by John O'Hara, which, Skip said, is the site of the mosque bombing a few months ago that greatly increased the tensions between the sunni and shiites. The book, however, is about four days, over the Christmas holidays, in the life of a Cadillac dealer in a small Pennsylvania town in 1930. The opening page is the best first page he's ever read, though it's actually not by John O'Hara, but by Somerset Maugham. It's entitled Death Speaks and sets up the book. Here it is, on a German website, but the writing is in English. And here's a blog posting from "Mo Pie" about the book.

On our way out the door we managed to corner Ginger, the fabulous MC. Currently she's reading Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes and, to break it up, a biography of Malcom X. Some of her favorite books are The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell--it's a Jesuit Science Fiction story about language and understanding culture; Civil War Land in Bad Decline, by George Saunders; and War Boy, by Kief Hillsbery, which is set in San Francisco and told through the eyes of a young, deaf, gay boy--understanding the language, she says, is similar to reading Clockwork Orange. When I mentioned that my friends were linguistics students she began talking about linguists whose work she was familiar with. Very well-read!

While we were talking, standing just outside the entrance on the corner of 9th and Howard, I saw not one, but two people walking down the street reading books. This was at about 10pm. It's a literary neighborhood.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us! We appreciate it!!!