Call: Litquake event: Virtual Reality: The Effect of Fiction on Your Mind

San Francisco’s Literary Festival

Virtual Reality: The Effect of Fiction on Your Mind

October 5, 2010 6:30 pm

Cost: $12; free to Mechanics Institute members

Venue: Mechanics Institute Library

Address: 57 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA

What do you really know about the characters you meet on the page? Are you sure it’s healthy to visit imaginary worlds—even if they come from someone else’s imagination? And how well do authors know the characters they invent? These questions and yours will be addressed by our panel: a neurologist-novelist and expert on how we know what we know, the most prolific reader in the Northern Hemisphere, a novelist famous for the intensity of her characters, an authority on the cognitive aspects of fiction, and a memoirist who has experienced mental illness and whose father was a great American writer.

Admission: $12 general public, free to members of Mechanics Institute; reservations at (415) 393-0100 or

Robert Burton, former Chief of Neurology at Mt. Zion-UCSF Hospital, is the author of Doc-in-a-Box, Cellmates, and On Being Certain. His next book, The Involuntary Self, explores how our brain generates our sense of self.

Elaine Petrocelli is the extremely well-read president of Book Passage, the fiercely independent bookstore and literary event center located in Corte Madera and at the Ferry Building.

Michelle Richmond is the author of The Year of Fog, No One You Know, Dream of the Blue Room, and The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress. Visit her at

Blakey Vermeule teaches at Stanford and is writing a book about how accurately the maps we carry in our heads—especially the stories we make up—describe the road under our feet.

Mark Vonnegut’s memoir Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So is a searingly amusing, iconoclastic account of growing up with Kurt Vonnegut, coping with mental illness, and finding a calling as a pediatrician.

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