Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Reasons for My Absence

I know, I know, it’s been more than a month since I posted, which is an eon in blog time. Even my brother Steven, who only reads Ghost Word when he’s finished reading everything else in sight, including the cereal boxes on the breakfast table, asked why I was missing in action.
Lots of reasons.
One, I have been blogging for City Brights on the SF Gate website. If you want an insight into human character, read the comments left on various posts. People can be vicious. They were so mean, in fact, that the actor Peter Coyote decided to stop blogging because he couldn’t hack the cruelty.
I have also been doing some occasional posts for a neat new hyper local blog called In Berkeley. Started by Dave Winer, who is a technological superstar of sorts, and Lance Knobel, the former coordinator of the Davos summit and a columnist for Reuters, the site is all about Berkeley.
But most of all I have been trying to get my life back in order. I had book talks and appearances all the way through the first week of August, and after that I vowed to clean my very messy office and think about another book project. Those things require empty time slots to think and ponder, which are the antithesis of blogging. But I am ready to return to the literary world.
A few interesting things:
I will be talking on Thursday September 17 at the Bancroft Roundtable. This is a series of talks sponsored by UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library. It is meant to showcase scholars and researchers who have used the library’s holdings. Although the bulk of Isaias Hellman’s papers are at the California Historical Society, I found lots of supplementary material at the Bancroft.
Four notable book launchings:
I have already written about Kemble Scott’s new novel, The Sower, which reached publication in a most unusual way. The big news is that it reached #5 on the Chronicle’s bestseller list the week after its release.
Kathryn Ma’s collection of short stories, All that Work and Still No Boys, is now in bookstores. Ma is a member of the SF Grotto, and is a friend. This is a wonderful book full of biting and wrenching works about contemporary American life. Many of the stories feature Chinese Americans, both young and old. It’s a view of that world that is very different than the one offered by Amy Tan. The book won the Iowa Short Fiction Award and was praised by Curtis Sittenfeld.
Ma will be speaking Sept. 17 at Café Royale at 800 Post Street in San Francisco at 6:30. She will also be at Books Inc in Laurel Village on California Street on September 22 at 7 pm. Her website is here.
Allison Hoover Bartlett’s new book, The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, about a book thief and a bibliodick, is out. Her first talk will be Thursday September 17 at 7 pm at the Booksmith on Haight Street in San Francisco. Allison is a member of my writing group, North 24th, and it has been such a joy to watch this book evolve. Riverhead is very behind this book and the buzz has been amazing. Barnes and Noble selected it for its October Discover New Writers series, Sara Nelson praised it for the website The Daily Beast, and lots of book bloggers have written about it. I am planning to see Allison read from the book on Thursday Sept. 24th at a Great Good Place for Books in Oakland at 7 pm.
Peter Richardson has written a groundbreaking book on the history of Ramparts Magazine, which started in San Mateo in the early 1960s as a Catholic magazine and evolved into a radical publication that launched the literary careers of many, including Warren Hinckle, Eldridge Cleaver, Robert Scheer, David Horowitz, Adam Hochschild and more.  Ramparts played an important role in the rise of the New Left and investigative journalism and was instrumental in exposing the lies and hypocrisies behind the Vietnam War. 
Richardson will be talking about A Bomb in Every Issue at the Berkeley Arts & Letters series on September 24. He will also hold a party in conjunction with City Lights at Vesuvio Café on Sept. 23 at 7 pm. Robert Sheer will be talking with Richardson at the Sept. 24th event and Warren Hinckle and Larry Bensky will be at the Vesuvio event.
Clearly the publication of this book is going to bring together disparate elements of the once-thriving Bay Area radical community. It should be interesting.

1 comment:

Ilana D. said...

There is nothing more demoralizing than the nasty, mean-spirited, hateful nature of the comments that many people leave on I'm not sure why newspaper web sites draw such a narrow segment of vituperative people. If I were God and all I knew about humanity were sfgate comments, I would call down another flood in a jiffy.