The event, Thursday at Verdi Club, is emceed by Jack Boulware, executive director and co-founder of Litquake, San Francisco’s sprawling annual literary festival (slated for Oct. 10-18 this year).
Boulware posits that the MTV generation overshadowed the literary legacy of the 1980s with an over-reliance on visuals. “There are lots of ’80s nights in the events spectrum, most of them dance nights, but no literature tribute nights,” he says.
The celebration of seminal books that captured the zeitgeist of the decadent decade, “Less Than Zero” spotlights local literati, with Andrew Dugas reading from “Bright Lights, Big City” by Jay McInerney; Alia Volz reading from “Slaves of New York” by Tama Janowitz; Eddie Muller reading from “Bonfire of the Vanities” by Tom Wolfe; Hollie Hardy reading from “Postcards from the Edge” by Carrie Fisher; and Michelle Tea reading from “The Official Preppy Handbook” by Lisa Birnbach.
Joshua Mohr, whose fourth novel “Fight Song” came out last year, reads from “Less Than Zero” by Bret Easton Ellis, which he first encountered as a college student more than a decade after its publication.
Mohr, a writing instructor at University of San Francisco, considers Brat Pack novelists (Ellis, McInerney, Janowitz, etc.) his forebearers. While artists across generations influencing each other “keep the dialogue going,” he adds, “There’s a big resurgence now in greyhound-lean storytelling” as another era of excess is rendered in minimalist prose.
But there are differences. In the ’80s, drugs aided and abetted detachment, but today, thanks to technology, Mohr says, “We have the Internet to escape the same ennui and malaise.” Not surprisingly, “Fight Song” portrays a character who mistakes inhabiting a virtual reality for living life.
“Less Than Zero” also features DJ Toph One spinning vintage vinyl and the Sparkle Motion dance duo embodying the Solid Gold Dancers.
Shoulder pads are recommended, though not required, and attendees who arrive early (doors open at 7 p.m.) are welcome to rummage through the dress-up bin for iconic ’80s accessories, then hit the full-service New Wave/“Dynasty” makeup bar.
Proceeds from the event go toward staging Lit Crawl, the free literary pub crawl that caps off Litquake.
IF YOU GO
Less Than Zero: Litquake’s Homage to ’80s Lit, Big Hair and Distressed Denim
Where: Verdi Club, 2424 Mariposa St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Tickets: $15 to $20
Contact: (415) 861-9199, www.litquake.org