Reviewed by Richard von Busack
RODES FISHBURNES' novel Going to See the Elephant is so frothy that when I set the book down for a second and then couldn't find it afterward, I presumed it had evaporated. Vouchsafed by Lemony Snicket and Tom Wolfe alike, it's the story of Slater Brown, a young writer who "had come to San Francisco expressly for the purpose of writing something that would last forever." That sentence struck me with the same dread as reading something like "Five miles north of Big Sur, the car's brakes gave out." Being the kind of aspiring and dewy-eyed young writer that San Francisco consumes by the half-dozen before noon, Brown seems destined for the insurance office or the bank. Instead he finds success at a moribund newspaper, meets Saroyanesque barflies and becomes a success thanks to the intercession of a supernatural girl. Her real identity is easily identifiable to the wide-awake reader. Fishburne will make an author appearance on Thursday (Jan. 22) at 7:30pm at Kepler's in Menlo Park. (By Rodes Fishburne; Delacorte; 304 pages; $22 hardback)
Despite the lackluster performance of the screen adaptation, Kaled Hosseini remains a potent draw as an author. The author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns will discuss his work and the ever-fluid situation in Afghanistan at an event to benefit Trust in Education. The group works to provide educational and medical opportunities to Afghan villages. The event, co-sponsored by Kepler's Books, takes place Friday (Jan. 23) at 7:30pm at Smithwick Theatre, Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos. The tickets range from $15 to $50; high-end tickets include a pre-talk reception with Hosseini. Call 925.283.8057 for ticket details.
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