The object of literature isn't to educate, it's to initiate, to return us to our human form. By wrenching us out of ourselves in an abstract process of self-reflection, it attempts to bring us into a state in which we might recognize that our life consists, according to Jorge Luis Borges, "of a single moment — the moment when a man knows forever more who he is." These moments can't be offered up on silver platters. They must be teased out, earned, imperiled and revived. When you understand that "Moby Dick" the novel has very little to do with Moby Dick the whale, for example, then you may successfully leave port. Here is a smattering of literary-book events during the next few months.
Alma Katsu presents her novel "The Taker." A mixture of historical fiction and love story with allusions to Pinocchio running through it — and by allusion I don't mean to imply a puppet plays the romantic lead. Fountain Bookstore, 6:30 p.m.
Brian Burns will read from and sign copies of his new biography, "Lewis Ginter: Richmond's Gilded Age Icon." Our town probably should have changed its name to Gintersville long ago. Chop Suey Books, 6 p.m.
"Community Discussion on 9/11: Ten Years Later." Granta Magazine is sponsoring this panel to reflect on the day that changed contemporary America. Kelly Justice will moderate, and authors Dean King, Michele Young-Stone and Rebecca Joines-Schinsky will serve as panelists. Fountain Bookstore, 6:30 p.m.
"Front Porch Flash Fiction Book Release." Like comics, flash fiction is gaining readership in droves. One reason: less static between the author and the published page equals purity. Velocity Comics, 7 p.m.
"All-Night, All Write Marathon and Cookout." Style Weekly's Valley Haggard and Bird Cox lead a stable of sweaty writers grinding it out for a 24-hour literary happening that probably will quickly devolve into something more primal, such as a burp-off. But this is a good cause that benefits local nonprofits, including Richmond Young Writers. There will be events, and if all else fails, a cookout. Chop Suey Books.
Pat Garber signs her recent book, "Heart Like a River," based on the Civil War diaries of Sgt. Maj. Newsom Edward Jenkins. Book People, 3 p.m.
Sandra Beasley presents her memoir, "Don't Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life." Beasley may face an interesting scenario, coming in on the heels of a writing marathon, but she'll make it work. And then she'll defy death by eating a single peanut on Patriot Day. Chop Suey Books, 4 p.m.
100 years young, Gertrude Murrell DuPont Howland will present and sign her newly-published "Short Stories and Poems." Book People, 2 p.m.
Feather Schwartz Foster is slated to autograph copies of her new book, "The Real First Ladies." We're talking Martha, Dolly, Eleanor and Mamie here. Book People, 3 p.m.
Meg Medina presents her children's book, "Tia Isa Wants a Car." Bring the kids and help Medina ring in Hispanic Heritage Month. Fountain Bookstore, 2 p.m.
Tom Ryan presents his memoir, "Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship." Tom and Atticus were co-recipients of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' human hero of the year award in 2008. Fountain Bookstore, 6:30 p.m.
Levis Reading Prize — Nick Lantz. To honor the spirit of the legendary poet Larry Levis, Lantz will read from his award-winning book, "The Lightning that Strikes the Neighbors' House." The night will be reminiscent of an Irish wake with all its joyful sadness. Grace Street Theater, 8 p.m.
Military veteran and Eastern Shore-based author David Poyer ("The Towers") tells the complex truth of 9/11 and the ensuing military response. Library of Virginia, noon.
James River Writers Conference. A carnival of writers, agents and editors instruct, speak, advise and schmooze with those learning the craft. Many put their heads inside the lion's mouth. Some become lions. Library of Virginia.
Richmond Zinefest. Zines are to blogs what vinyl LPs are to mpegs. These writers will be laughing when your Kindle craps out. Gay Community Center, 11 a.m.
Visiting Writers Series: Tayari Jones. The beautiful and brilliant Jones comes to town to read from novel two, "Silver Sparrow." Her first, "Leaving Atlanta," earned comparisons to Cheever. No pressure. VCU Commons, 7 p.m.
University of Richmond Writers Series: Carolyn Forché. One of the holy of holies in American poetry — she levitates, spits, and will show you a sack filled with human ears. Westhampton Living Room, Westhampton Center, 7 p.m.
14th Annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards Celebration, with host Adriana Trigiani. Novelist and TV legend Earl Hamner Jr. is the recipient of the 2011 literary lifetime achievement award, but many genre awards will be featured. Bask in the glow of the Oscars for Virginia writing. (The Virginia Literary Festival begins at a luncheon the day before and will focus on Hamner's influence.) Library of Virginia. Reservations required. 7 p.m.
University of Richmond Writers Series: Grace Lin. Big-time cultural lantern wielder — she can part the ocean with the giggle of a Chinese child. Brown-Alley Room, Weinstein Hall, 7:30 p.m.
University of Richmond Writers Series — Robert Polito. He makes his National Book Critics Circle Award seem de rigueur. His quiver is loaded with critical works in music, film, and lit, and — yes — poetry. Brown-Alley Room, Weinstein Hall, 7 p.m.
Sterling Hundley presents his art book, "Blue Collar/White Collar." Published by Richmond-based AdHouse Books. Chop Suey Books, 2 p.m.
VCU Cabell First Novelist Award: David Gordon. Here's a major award that always goes to a budding thoroughbred. Gordon will read from "The Serialist." Among his highbrow credits, his bio claims he's also worked in porn — probably not as a screenwriter. VCU Commons, 7 p.m.
Book release party for Richmond author, artist and blogger Noah Scalin's new book, "Unstuck." Scalin's art elicits words of wonderment, and now, again, his own words are making art. Chop Suey Books, 6 p.m.
Charles Shields presents his biography of Kurt Vonnegut, "And So It Goes." It is said to be the book on the life of Vonnegut. Fountain Bookstore, 12:30 p.m.