THURSDAY 7/13

Does This Cape Make Me Look Fat? book signing
Being a superhero's hard enough, but there's a ton of behind-the-scenes stuff that never got covered in Spider-Man 2. What are the ethics of using X-ray vision? What if your sidekick is a whiny bitch? How do you come up with a good catchphrase, anyway? Chelsea Cain and Marc Mohan have pondered all these questions and more, and have assembled their findings in the breezy, illustrated Does This Cape Make Me Look Fat?. Tonight they sign copies of this pretty damn funny book. Bridge City Comics, 3725 N Mississippi, 282-5484, 6-8 pm, free

D.A. Powell, Ann Cum­mins, Antonya Nelson
The title of Powell's volume of poetry, Cocktails, refers to anti-AIDS drugs; Cummins' Red Ant House is a fairly astonishing story collection, full of danger and secrecy; and Nelson's Some Fun—well, I never read it, but it sounds tough as steel, full of dusty alcoholics and wide open vistas. Presented by the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop. Cerf Amphitheatre, Reed College, 3203 SE Woodstock, 258-9313, 8 pm, $5

Water for Elephants
Yet another circus-themed novel, Water for Elephants seems poised to blow up something major. From the press release: "It has generated more bookseller endorsements that any other book in the history of the Book Sense program." Considering that Book Sense is a simply a loose federation of independent booksellers who usually have their fingers on the pulse of what's decent, that's a pretty major endorsement. Powell's Books on Hawthorne, 3723 SE Hawthorne, 238-1668, 7:30 pm, free

FRIDAY 7/14

Water for Elephants
See Thursday's event. Annie Bloom's Books, 7834 SW Capitol Hwy, 246-0053, 1 pm, free

Matthea Harvey, Anthony Doerr, Jim Shepard
Since Dave Eggers loves writing blurbs so much, let's let him do the talking for Jim Shepard here: "He gives us red-blooded characters who leave the living room and fly, kayak, dive, search, and emerge from swamps to devour unwitting campers. Stories about dissolving marriages are fine, but how about two gay engineers on the Hindenburg? Or a 19th Century man searching for a giant half-shark/half-whale? These are uniformly bold and exhilarating stories. Let's hope Shepard becomes as influential as he should be. He's the best we've got." Thanks, Dave! Presented by the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop. Cerf Amphitheatre, Reed College, 3203 SE Woodstock, 258-9313, 8 pm, free

SATURDAY 7/15

Steve Almond, Nick Flynn, Aimee Bender
Aimee Bender can make gruesome things seem beautiful and tragic things seem completely hilarious. I heard she got the idea for Girl with the Flammable Skirt at Ross Dress for Less where skirts were being recalled because they were flammable. With a keen eye for observation and her finger on human frailty, Aimee Bender will make you want to give her a hug. Plus, she's reading with Mercury fave Steve Almond, and Flynn, whose Another Bullshit Night in Suck City was (obviously) the best-titled book of 2005 and an incredible addition to the contemporary memoir genre. KB Presented by the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop. Cerf Amphitheatre, Reed College, 3203 SE Woodstock, 258-9313, 8 pm, $5

Alex Lemon, Karen Lee Boren
These two authors are part of Tin House's "New Voices" series. Lemon's forthcoming poetry collection, Mosquito, is startlingly clear and at times devastatingly honest; Karen Lee Boren is making the rounds in support of Girls in Peril, a Midwest tale of five girls teetering on the invisible line between innocence and experience. Presented by the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop. Cerf Amphitheatre, Reed College, 3203 SE Woodstock, 258-9313, 5 pm, free

MONDAY 7/17

Cross Country
Robert Sullivan, who has penned in-depth nonfiction books on the topics of rats, whale hunts, and the New Jersey Meadowlands, returns with a book about the all-American roadtrip. Powell's City of Books, 1005 W Burnside, 228-4651, 7:30 pm, free

TUESDAY 7/18

Decline of the Lawrence Welk Empire
Poe Ballantine's new book picks up where his God Clobbers Us All left off; protagonist Edgar ditches his menial day jobs to join his buddy on a Caribbean island. Sounds like more post-Nick Hornby stories about men and their prolonged adolescence. Annie Bloom's Books, 7834 SW Capitol Hwy, 246-0053, 7:30 pm, free

WEDNESDAY 7/19

Londonstani
Gautam Malkani's comic novel "portrays the lives of young Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu men in the ethnically charged enclave of London." Sounds like White Teeth, minus the white people. Powell's City of Books, 1005 W Burnside, 228-4651, 7:30 pm, free