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YEAR IN LIT: A small assortment of Bay Area book highlights from 2010


I commissioned three of the works in Veronica De Jesus's Here Now From Everywhere (Allone Co. Editions, 130 pages, $26). Her portraits of Michael Jackson and Jay Reatard ran in the Guardian, while I paid out of pocket for her to render a tribute to the poet John Wieners for my boyfriend. Along with just-announced SECA Award winner Colter Jacobsen, who published this book, De Jesus is my favorite creator of drawings in the Bay Area. Like Jacobsen, she delves into memory — her memorial portraits can be seen for free on the windows of Dog Eared Books, where this book is for sale. The charm and value of Here Now From Everywhere is immediate, but the book reveals more of its multfaceted personality with each return visit. De Jesus' illustrated dictionary of inspirational icons ranges from superstars to half-forgotten pop heroes, from cultural figures to obscure female athletes. It's a gift. (Johnny Ray Huston)

"I told Micah last night that my new book would be a haunted house." Berkeley-based poet Julian Poirier's El Golpe Chileño (Ugly Duckling Presse, 128 pages, $15) is filled with the ghosts of past and present. Essentially a bildungsroman, it tracks Poirier's protagonist's growth from youthful journeyman into adulthood though a kind of mixed-genre Theatre of the Absurd. Vaudeville, comics, memoir, film pitch, epistolary, failed novel, poetry, the carnival, and travelogue are all wielded brilliantly in the hands of Poirier, making for a phantasmagoric reading experience where the whole emerges defiantly greater than the sum of its parts. Poirier writes, "I turned my whole brain into a city and wrote down everything I saw happening there." And indeed it certainly feels that way — the book is ripe with the names of places, of friends living and dead; with lists of dates and years; and with drawings and photographs, making up what Poirier somewhat obliquely labels "The Stolen Universe." El Golpe Chileño is truly a success of form and content, of the high and low, of pop and elegy. (John Sakkis)