Shipwrecking the Literary Canon

Booksmith on Haight shatters the Literary Canon via erotic fan fiction… and a lot of dick jokes.


The rain-slicked streets of Haight meant nothing to the dirty minds that made Booksmith the steamiest spot in the city. Writers, readers, and lovers of erotic fan fiction filled the 40-year-old book store for a night full of sexy and sometimes disturbing portrayals of the most famous characters in fictional history.

Amy Stephenson co-creator and producer of the the event titled “Shipwreck,” emceed throughout the night as she introduced the month’s fan fiction victim: Wuthering Heights. Each month the bookstore chooses a well-known novel and has six local writers and comedians violate six main characters in an attempt to be known as the dirtiest writer as well as a chance to win all over again the next month.

The night begins with mingling and drinking amongst newcomers and the rambunctious regulars who are quick to shout the first innuendo that pops into their perverted minds. The event began in the summer of 2013 and its following kept growing.

“For us, it was a way to talk back to the literary canon using jokes…”

“For us, it was a way to talk back to the literary canon using jokes,” Stephenson said, “to bring a fun social event into a bookstore, and to get to laugh together with our favorite writes.”

The ballot for best erotic fan fiction story was strategically placed on the bar in front of an ice bucket of white wine.

The impact of Shipwreck has proved much more, as it brings in people of all age, race, occupation, and gender. It’s all inclusive and embraces the awkwardness that sexuality brings forth.

“We think of Shipwreck as a safe, sex-positive place where everyone is welcome no matter what they’re into,” Stephenson said. “The literary canon leaves people out and when we can get a bunch of queer people, brown people, or women writing stories about the books that don’t center them, it can be very subversive and empowering (and funny).”

The event puts the exclusivity of the literary canon in the limelight and makes it inclusive to anyone who is willing to pay just ten bucks for an open bar and a smutty, but articulate, night. By anybody, they mean anybody. While there are the writers and teachers looking for a night outside of the box, there are also a ton of people who just enjoy the sense of community and hilarity that comes from the monthly event.

“The literary canon leaves people out and when we can get a bunch of queer people, brown people, or women writing stories about the books that don’t center them, it can be very subversive and empowering (and funny).

“It encourages me to read more novels…” software developer Andrew Purcell, 26, said, “coming to this is like my book club and it’s also fun.”

Shipwreck goers don’t need to worry about whether or not they have read the featured book, as emcee Amy gives a quick overview of the book before the readings begin. People who have never read the novel or even heard of it fit in and have just as much fun.

“Just being able to be in an area, not give a shit, and just giggle with people… there are worse things.” Natasha Jensen, 26-year-old Baltimore resident said sarcastically.

Veterans and newcomers of Shipwreck packed the house at Booksmith on February 2, 2017 as Baruch Porras-Hernandez narrated the sexual ghost of Catherine Earnshaw.

The Shipwreck crew will travel to Seattle on March 2 for the Emerald City Comic Con. The next Shipwreck night will take place on March 9 featuring the well-known fairytale Beauty and The Beast (you can buy tickets here). They also provide an awesome podcast of their shows and have other events throughout the month.


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