Writers are always waving goodbye in autumn. All is elegy. In the breach that promises absolute collapse and annihilation, each word and captured memory or image shimmers golden and comes most alive. So we retrieve, we archive, we store. We can't help ourselves. We vibrate like divining rods to the source. Here are some highlights of the season sponsored by, but not necessarily at, Richmond's key literary outlets, free unless mentioned otherwise.
Dean King presents "The Feud" while Josh Small provides the bluegrass. There also will be, according to bookstore owner Ward Tefft, "a very serious discussion about moonshine" at Candela Gallery, 214 W. Broad St. Sept. 18, 7 p.m.
Davy Rothbart will return to read from and sign his memoir, "My Heart Is an Idiot" at Balliceaux, 203 N. Lombardy. Sept. 22, 8 p.m.
Steam-punk reading by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris, who collaborate on novels "Phoenix Rising" and "The Janus Affair," will sign copies at Chop Suey, 2913 W. Cary St., in conjunction with the James River Writers Conference (see below). Oct. 19, 3 p.m.
Philadelphia poets G. Emil Reutter ("Carvings") and Diane Sahms Guarnieri will read from their work at Chop Suey, 2913 W. Cary. Oct. 26, 4 p.m.
Chip Kidd, the award-wining artist who designed Tom De Haven's "Superman" cover, and who is, according to bookstore owner Kelly Justice, "the most famous book designer in the history of the world," will bring the crossroads of literature and visual art to town. Kidd also is an accomplished novelist and comic critic in his own right. This event is huge. (Google for his Ted Talk, "Designing Books Is No Laughing Matter. OK, It Is.") Oct. 18, with the time and location announced later.
Jonathan Miles, a Fountain favorite satirist, brings his new novel, "Want Not," from the cover of the New York Times Book Review, to Fountain Bookstore, 1312 E. Cary St. Nov. 7, 6:30 p.m.
Young Adult Night with Elizabeth Kiem and Arin Greenwood in a panel discussion, is moderated by store owner Kelly Justice at the store, 1312 E. Cary St. Nov. 12, 6:30 p.m.
The annual Levis Prize Reading features winner Michael McGriff for "Home Burial" at Grace Street Theater, 934 W. Grace St. Sept. 25, 8 p.m.
The always interesting Moveable Feast features creative writing graduate student readings. See budding authors before they become jaded by fame. The Visual Arts Center, 812 W. Main St. Sept. 20, Oct. 11 and Nov. 8, 6 p.m.
The VCU Cabell First Novelist Award features winner Ramona Ausubel for "No One Is Here Except All of Us," at Richmond Salons, VCU Student Commons, 907 Floyd Ave. Nov. 19, 9 p.m.
Stephen Metcalf, former speechwriter for Hillary Clinton, has become a respected and accessible cultural critic, a rare thing in a time when everyone seems to be one. See him espouse in UR's Brown-Alley Room, Weinstein Hall. Sept. 19, 4:30 p.m.
Novelist Zadie Smith, winner of Britain's Orange Prize for "On Beauty," will read from and discuss her latest, "NW." If I had to rank all literary events for the year in order of importance, this one would be at the top. Smith brings the last of a vanishing empire with her to UR's Brown-Alley Room, Weinstein Hall. Nov. 21, 7 p.m.
Book launch and signing for "Brotherhood" by Anne Westrick at the Library of Virginia, 800 E. Broad St. Sept. 12, 6 p.m.
Poetic Principles, an event partnership between the Library and Blackbird, VCU's award-winning literary magazine, will feature Charles Wright and Ellen Bryant Voigt — two pillars of American poetry. Wright also will be honored with a Lifetime Literary Achievement Award during the Literary Awards Celebration at Library of Virginia, 800 E. Broad St. Oct. 15, 6 p.m.
Novelist Lee Smith will launch her latest, "Guests on Earth," at the Library of Virginia, 800 E. Broad St. Oct. 17, 5:30 p.m.
The Library of Virginia's Literary Awards Celebration, with host Adriana Trigiani, promises to be a who's who of Virginia authors. A $175 ticket will get you a plate at the seated dinner and a cocktail reception. Library of Virginia, 800 E. Broad St. Oct. 19, 6 p.m.
The weekend event, being held Oct. 18-20, features National Book Award winner Kathryn Erskine and bestselling author Christopher McDougall. It includes the Library of Virginia Literary Awards luncheon. Most of it will be held at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. Full conference registration costs $240, with various pricing options. Information at jamesriverwriters.org.