City Lights with Rare Bird Lit, San Francisco Public Library, and Vesuvio Cafe present
Herb Gold @ 100: A Tribute to a Life in Letters
at the North Beach Branch of the San Francisco Public Library, 850 Columbus Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94133 – 4:00 pm
Followed by a reception and book signing at Vesuvio Cafe, 255 Columbus Ave, North Beach, San Francisco, CA 94133-4508 – 5:30 PM
Free to the Public
A celebration of the life of San Francisco literary icon Herbert Gold, and the release of his final book, Father Verses Sons, A Correspondence in Poems, published by Rare Bird Lit. Ari Gold and Ethan Gold, who co-authored the book with their father, will be in conversation with Peter Maravelis – the events director of City Lights Booksellers. They will read poems from the book and share stories about Herb, a Beat Generation author and journalist who made San Francisco his literary home for 63 years until he passed away at age 99 last November. The reading will take place on what would have been Herb’s 100th birthday at the North Beach Public Library. The celebration will then move immediately over to Vesuvio — right across the alley from Herb’s beloved City Lights — for refreshments and a book signing.
About Father Verses Sons:
When the global pandemic forced his ninety-six-year-old father into isolation, filmmaker Ari Gold became concerned that loneliness would kill his father’s spirits. As a prolific novelist who began writing in his twenties, Herbert Gold’s incredible oeuvre included twenty-four novels, five collections of stories and essays, and eight nonfiction books. So, Ari mailed his father a poem, asking for one in return. Later, Ari’s twin brother, Ethan, also got into the game. Thus was launched a lifesaving literary correspondence, and a testament to the bonds of family.
The resulting poems are playful, honest, funny, and moving. Secrets are invoked alongside personal—and often painful—history. Ari and Ethan’s mother, Herbert Gold’s second wife, died in a helicopter crash alongside the famous rock promoter and impresario Bill Graham in 1991. Her ghost roams through the poems and the wonderful archival photos included in full color throughout.
In Father Verses Sons, a lushly illustrated “correspondence in poems,” ranges across the life, family, and death of a remarkable father. The father and his sons write tenderly of their hunger for connection, about the woman that all three men have lost (a mother, a wife), and about the passion that all three seek. Ultimately, these poems tell a singular story of men bumbling their way towards love.
Herb Gold (March 1924-November 2023) literary icon and compatriot of the Beat Generation, published more than thirty books, including the bestseller Fathers. He won the Sherwood Anderson Award for Fiction, the Commonwealth Club Gold Medal, and the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award.
Ari Gold is a filmmaker and winner of the Student Oscar. His films have been selected at Sundance four times, and his upcoming movies Helicopter and Brother Verses Brother, companions to this book.
Ethan Gold is a songwriter, performer, and composer residing in Los Angeles and Berlin. He is releasing a trilogy of albums about the modern world, Earth City.
What has been said about the work of Herb Gold and Father Verses Sons:
“Herbert Gold, a novelist whose verbal inventiveness and keen eye for the complicated emotional transactions of love and marriage established him as one of the most promising of the young American writers to emerge after World War II.” —The New York Times
“A wise and loving poetic correspondence that tells me more about men than ten years of marriage.” —Natsha Leggaro, comedian and author of The World Deserves My Children
“Remember the first time your dad told you a secret that made you see him as a complete person? That happens on every page. Family often inspires art, but rarely are the results as kind and generous as they are in this warm, slyly funny book.” —Chris L. Terry, author of Black Card and Zero Fade, co-editor of Black Punk Now
“A playful, touching family saga written in Beat-evoking free verse, Father Verses Sons offers wry meditations on time, sex, death, love, and dragonflies. I heartily recommend taking this breezy California ride.” —Daniel Pinchbeck, author of Breaking Open the Head
“A poignant dialogue between father and sons created during a global crisis when all of us were alone. Out of isolation comes these love poems, tender and cruel. Once again language outsmarts sadness and death.” —Jerome Charyn, Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and author of Big Red
“I sent my Dad a letter in the mail once and all I got back was a restraining order. This magic correspondence makes me dwell on my own luvly [sic] Dad, a bit older now. And at the same time wish, that I end up in the Gold lineage next time round.” —Robert Sheehan, actor and author of Disappearing Act
This event made possible by support from the City Lights Foundation