Literature

Happy 50th birthday to tesseracts and Mrs Whatsit

|
(0)

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” -- Madeleine L'Engle

She was living proof that not all Christian young adult authors feel the need to concoct elaborate vampire metaphors decrying sexual intimacy. Madeleine L'Engle, in fact, counts as one of the most beloved writers among religious and secular readers of youn adult lit alike (well, some religious people -- others condemned her depictions of crystal balls and treatment of Jesus as a learned man.) Her Wrinkle in Time turns the ripe old age of 50 this year, and the SF Public Library has drummed up a line-up of authors just as devoted to its tesseract-traveling plot as you are to commemorate its golden anniversary Read more »

This year, Banned Books Week matters more than ever

|
(25)

Have you ever listened to KPFA's “Flashpoints”? A friend described it to me, as we listened to an episode featuring San Francisco's newest poet laureate – our first Latino laureate – Alejandro Murgía, as a “very pointed” radio show. The host, poet Dennis Bernstein, asked a very pointed question about Obama and Romney's reactions to the anti-Muslim video that's causing uproar in the Middle East. 

But Murgía changed the subject. What about the racism of the Tucson Unified School District, he asked? Why doesn't its removal of the Mexican American studies program, and with it books like The Tempest and Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and other books that “emphasize students’ ethnicity rather than their individuality” get talked about more? The more he talked, the more I became convinced that yes, this was a very big deal. 

Luckily, the country has an opportunity to talk about the issue of free speech repression via next week's 30th annual national celebration of Banned Books Week, Sun/30-Oct. 6. Read more »

"Z is for Zest": A kids book of alphabet affirmations

|
(2)

Perhaps you have run aground of late, or know someone who has. Maybe you've forgotten your alphabet (or know somebody who has.) At any rate, a Bay Area couple would like to help. Rebecca Kovan and Daniel MacIntyre have put together a lovely, illustrated ABCs book perfect for remembering your values. Its name is Alphabet Living, and we challenge you to click through the above slideshow and not dissolve in a puddle of love. Or a stain of irritation, depending at what point in your Folsom Street Fair comedown you are. Read more »

Getting into it: 'Vagina' is still a book about vagina

|
(4)

If there is one thing that some feminists like to do, it is tell each other that they are not really feminist -- or, judging from the Internet over the past weeks, that's what newsmedia enjoys paying them to write about. Imagine that two competing “waves” at an NFL game crash into each other and their wavers begin hurling epithets involving biological primacy (“the wave's appeal lies in the rolling motion of the womb experience!”) and unacknowledged privilege (“our wave does not rely on fancy running shoes for buoyancy, or expensive snack bar items for flourish!”) 

Naomi Wolf wrote a book called Vagina: A Biography, and is now being torn apart, bit by bit, by representatives of various feminist waves in nearly every vaunted publication in the land. I'm saying: she did write a book called Vagina, though. Read more »

Drug peace

Strange times call for strange measures: an interview with author Doug Fine

|
(0)

HERBWISE Author Doug Fine's last book, Farewell My Subaru, is about the year he moved to a secluded New Mexico farm and attempted to live without petroleum. He's just as creative about advocating against the War on Drugs as is his against fossil fuel dependency -- for his new book Too High To Fail: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution Fine spent a cannabis season living in a Mendocino grow town. Read more »

This toke's for history

A counterculture icon captures the imperfection of weed's hippie renaissance

|
(1)

caitlin@sfbg.com

HERBWISE We have to be careful about how we are documenting marijuana. If we aren't, future generations might be forgiven for thinking that cannabis culture occurred solely in courtrooms and during federal raids. After all, when do you read an account of a really great high, or the everyday reality of scoring from a dealer (and not going to jail for it, natch) off the pages of High Times?Read more »

Save Adobe Books?

|
(2)

Adobe Books owner Andrew McKinley didn't have to think long when I asked him the corniest question of our interview, occasioned by the announcement that his store was in serious danger of having to close. Question: if you had to choose one book to describe your situation, what would it be? "It reminds me of The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurty," McKinley gamely responded. "It's about a movie theater in a small Texas town that's dying out."

But! ask Mission District bibliophiles. Can Adobe Books be saved? The answer, according to McKinley, lies in whether you have a buddy with $60,000 to save the future of SF books -- or better yet, $3 million. Read more »

Talking with Etgar Keret (supposedly)

|
(0)

You can't imagine the writerly crisis I experienced typing up the questions for my Etgar Keret interview. What responses could I possibly elicit from Israel's most prominent fabulist that would rival the odd, sparkling stories of his latest, Suddenly, a Knock on the Door (FSG Originals, 208pp, $14)? Better just to publish one of his pieces, perhaps the titular account of a man forced at gunpoint to overcome writer's block or the story of the guy who falls (via a buried gumball machine) into a world populated by characters from the fibs he's told over the year. Read more »

Found in translation

Haruki Murakami's interpreters discuss the art of building literature anew

|
(4)

Ludwig Wittgenstein once said "the limits of my language mean the limits of my world." So for the sake of expanded horizons, let's say thank you to professional translators, the diligent souls who dedicate their lives to the subtleties of language. When interpreters dissolve linguistic barriers, we are able to peer into the worlds articulated in literature of distant lands to understand them as our own.Read more »

6 great author readings in the next 12 days

|
(0)

Opt for a night sans sloppy drunks, covers, reality TV, or morning-after regret. Opt for a book reading -- here, we'll get you started with a list of upcoming page-turners. 

Joshua Foer: Moonwalking with Einstein

Foer investigates the inner workings of our brain by drawing on scientific research, cultural history of memory, and personal explorations of different memory techniques.  

Fri/5 7:30 p.m., free. The Booksmith, 1644 Haight, SF. (415) 863-8688, www.booksmith.com. Read more »