Literature

Bongtastic!

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Science: it brought us non-stick saute pans, the Internet, timed traffic lights -- and now, once again, it is making our lives better through the advancement of empirical knowledge. Of course, I'm referring to the findings enclosed in the new publication from Berkeley's Ten Speed Press, Bongology. Read more »

Trash Lit: 'Reckless' could be ripped from headlines (minus a couple murders)

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Reckless
Andrew Gross
William Morrow, 404 pages, $25.99

Imagine if the head of a powerful banking company with close ties to the federal government conspired with some shady Saudi billionaires and a cruel Serbian ex-military thug to bring down the American financial system in a Darwinian plot that would allow the one firm with insider knowledge to emerge even stronger. How would it play out? Well, minus a few murders, more or less exactly the way the financial-sector meltdown of the past couple of years has played out.

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Warriors, come out and play! (with this squeaky mouse)

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Blossompaw jumped down from the wall and headed past the plants Jayfeather had carefully nurtured. The scent of them made Ivypaw’s mouth water, but she knew the warning given to every Clan cat: Stay away from the catnip.

Worry not for our youth in the post-Harry Potter era; there’s a new line of young adult fiction that’s got all the kids a’ reading. And it’s about fighting clans of kitties -- my favorite! The Warriors, a series which to date includes over thirty titles, is a lot like Brian Jacques’ Redwall books -- a small universe of carefully plotted minutiae following the escapades of animals in epic form.

But we’re going to the next level here.The Warriors see the Redwall sci-fi/fantasy nerd love of quests, battles, and prophecies, then raises it an all kitteh cast of characters. Oh yes, whiskers and all. Read more »

Yann Martel brushes off the haters

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Last night, Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi, and the new spectacularly panned follow up effort Beatrice and Virgil, took the stage at Kabuki Sundance Theater to speak with fellow writer Laura Fraser.

One can almost hear the semi colons when Martell speaks. “What makes life go well is not just external success; it’s how you feel about it.” It’s well and good that he seems relatively undisturbed by reviews of his work, because otherwise he might be a little ruffled these days; despite the phenomenal triumph of Life of Pi, the New York Times reviewer Michiko Kakutani heads up a long list of unimpressed critics, calling the new book “disappointing and often perverse.” Read more »

How to run your life: today's stand up comedians and The Believer weigh in

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As far as advice columns go, I’ve always been partial to E. Jean’s bon mots in Elle, if only for her use of the term ‘whipsawed by confusion.’ But for a swift, re-motivating kick to the rear, I’ve never read anything like the gems dished out by You’re a Horrible Person, But I Like You, The Believer’s new tome of celebrity counsel.

By way of example, here’s Zach Galifianakis’ “ways to kick-start a satisfying life.”

1. Start reading Teen People

2. Rent a stretch Hummer to go see Noam Chomsky speak

3. Model your life after the movie Sideways, but instead of wine make your passion Mountain Dew

4. Ask a state trooper where the closest gay bar is

5. Have a Super Bowl party with no television Read more »

Quick Lit: April 14-April 20

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Literary readings, book tours, and talks this week -- including Alice Walker, Men and Dogs, Marin Poetry Festival, "Adapting to Climate Change," and more

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Youth Speaks' young poets roar

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“Poetry’s made a big difference in my life. It’s allowed me to express myself in ways that I never would have been able to,” says Erica McMath Sheppard, 17, one the winners of Sat/3’s Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam at the Warfield Theater.Read more »

The cheeseman can

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The subtitle of Rainbow Grocery cheesemonger Gordon “Zola” Edgar’s new memoir (supertitled Cheesemonger, appropriately enough) would be enough for me to count the book a success; “Life on the wedge.” Ha! See, right there, he had me ready to head out to his Omnivore Books reading (Sat/3) fangirl style, washed rind Taleggio in hand, hounding for an autograph. Luckily, the rest of his book is pretty good too. Read more »

Live Shots: Literary Death Match, Elbo Room, 02/12/2010

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In honor of the upcoming installment of the Bay's wondrous Literary Death Match -- Fri/12, 6:30, $10 at Elbo Room, 647 Valencia, SF. -- here are some pics from last month's raucous Valentine's Day edition. It was a fight for love ... to the death! 

Steampunk convention tinkers mightily

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Steampunk has been described as a “step sideways in time.” It’s certainly not a regressive subculture- one peek at the kinds of clockwork corsetry and hydraulics operated moving machines that steampunk tinkerers fashion will convince you of that- but rather, a rethinking of where technology could have led us. It’s a topic that’s figuring prominently in the minds of many these days, which means this year’s New Albion Steampunk Exhibition (begins Fri/12) promises to be more whiz-bang than ever.

Picture, if you will, a mass of punks and nonconventional individuals in Victorian garb and laboriously created wings, monocles, wrist weaponry and whatnot, all milling about to waltz music in a very conventional hotel convention space. Surely, unsuspecting squares of Emeryville will be freaked.

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