Travel Blog

21 Nov

Liquor, lust and the zombie apocalypse

Penthouse Nightclub Vancouver sign

Ross Filippone with friends under the original marquee in 1957
Photo credit: Danny Filippone and The Penthouse.

It’s an interesting week for book lovers. Besides the Jewish Book Fesival, which kicks off Nov 24 and runs through Nov 29, Thursday night offers a couple of strikingly different events. In one, a local scribe celebrates the city’s past, while in the other, literary star Margaret Atwood looks at the future.

At downtown venue The Penthouse, Aaron Chapman celebrates the publication of his book Liquor, Lust and the Law. Chapman’s book looks at the many twists and turns of the Penthouse saga, from its origins as a family-run venue hosting names like Sammy Davis Jr. and Duke Ellington to its later years as a strip—er, exotic dancing—club to its recent near-death from a fire.

No less scintillating but probably with fewer dancing girls, the Chan Centre at the University of British Columbia presents a lecture by Atwood, one of Canada’s best-known literary authors and one of the few currently writing about the zombie apocalypse. Yes, you read that right—one of the country’s most respected writers is currently working on a serialized novel (with Naomi Alderman) called The Happy Zombie Sunrise Home.

There’s no getting around it; this definitely isn’t Alice Munro territory. Of course, Atwood has written genre fiction before. Her novels The Handmaid’s Tail, Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood are all set in the future, while The Blind Assassin has many SF elements (without actually being science fiction). And last year, Atwood published In Other Worlds, a collection of essays about speculative fiction, including her early fascination with the genre.

In Other Worlds Margaret Atwood book cover

In Other Worlds by Margaret Atwood. Photo credit: Virago

All of which makes her the perfect candidate to talk about “Writing the Future.” In the UBC lecture, Atwood addresses whether or not one can write about the future. Apparently, there will also be some points made about the Zombie Apocalypse, and its meaning.

Margaret Atwood speaks at the Chan Centre for Performing Arts (6265 Crescent Road) at the University of British Columbia. While the talk is aimed at UBC students, staff members, faculty and alumni, some tickets are available to the public for only $15. The catch; they have to be picked up at the Chan Centre box office. Talk starts at 8 p.m.

Easier to access, the book launch party at the Penthouse (1019 Seymour St) for Liquor, Lust and the Law is probably the literary event to crash, if only to get a taste of Vancouver’s seedier side. Admission is free, and the launch features a red carpet, live music by Goby Catt, hors d’oeuvres, and a chat with author Aaron Chapman and Penthouse owner Danny Filippone with images from the book (like the one below) projected on a screen.

Girl on stage at Penthouse

Exotic dancer onstage at The Penthouse, 1970s. Photo credit: Danny Filippone and The Penthouse.

The event also features roaming show girls (in full feather regalia) posing for (free) souvenir photographs taken by a pro photog on-site. After 10, the evening will take a turn for the more adult, as the Penthouse’s regular entertainment takes the stage.

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