Literature

Fine quintet

WRITERS ISSUE: Four provocative haiku and a tanka
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WRITERS Four provocative haiku and a tanka from the Haiku Poets of Northern California, who'll be reading at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 17, at Anthony's Cookies (1417 Valencia, SF) as part of LitQuake's massive citywide Litcrawl. Read more »

Bon Voyage!

WRITERS ISSUE: An excerpt from Joshua Mohr's upcoming novel Termite Parade
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arts@sfbg.com

WRITERS Mired and I were off to a Bon Voyage! party for our friend, Shawna, who was moving to Cleveland. It might not be totally true to say that Shawna was our friend. Shawna was my friend. We'd worked together, years ago, at an auto parts store and had dated for a few months. Mired was a jealous person in the first place, and she was of the opinion that Shawna still had a crush on me, though I kept trying to tell her that there was nothing going on between us.

Once we arrived, Mired started drinking vodka tonics. Really drinking. Read more »

Bay writes

WRITERS ISSUE: The winners of our first LIT123 contest
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culture@sfbg.com

WRITERS We asked Guardian readers to contribute stories or poems that reflected their Bay Area experiences. The catch? Each entry had to be exactly 123 words. So many excellent submissions poured in. Unfortunately, we could only pick 10 winners, which are printed below. Read more »

Higher ground

Solnit's latest explores the utopic possibilities glimpsed in disaster
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arts@sfbg.com

LIT What Susan Sontag wrote about illness in 1978's Illness as Metaphor and 1989's AIDS and Its Metaphors holds for disaster as well: all too often, widespread devastation is made to serve moralistic meanings. Read more »

Creamin' for comics

THE SEX ISSUE: Get your pencils out for the best graphic porn
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culture@sfbg.com

Erotic comics are a special breed of porn. Unlike prose, they can show as well as describe. Unlike photos, they're narrative. Read more »

Unbuckling the swashbuckler

A new bio shines a light on what Douglas Fairbanks left behind
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REVIEW Given the phenomenal success of Johnny Depp's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, a revival of appreciation for the granddaddy of all cinematic swashbucklers, Douglas Fairbanks, is long overdue. Read more »

See monsters

It's a Big Machine, it's a mean machine, it's a big, mean story by Victor LaValle
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a&eletters@sfbg.com

REVIEW Naomi Ophelia Lamar was my cousin, but my big sister. Six years older than me, she ran away from home at 16. Though we stayed in touch, too many years of no contact had changed us both. We tried but could never close the distance. Last year, they found her body in a Dumpster in Birmingham, Ala. She'd been stabbed over 30 times. Her husband had done it. Afterward, he drove to the nearest bridge and threw himself off. She was the grandmother of three. I sat in the bathroom screaming, "We are not garbage!"

Bizarre and horrible things happen. Read more »

'The Adderall Diaries'

A dose from San Francisco author Stephen Elliott's memoir of moods, masochism, and murder
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a&eletters@sfbg.com

EXCERPT My psychiatrist lives just down the street from me. I can walk there. I see her once a month, or once every three months, and she prescribes my pills. The pills make me crazy, I know that, but I don't see the alternative. Read more »

Made in USA

THE DRUG ISSUE: Under the overpass, Righteous Dopefiend finds a different kind of San Francisco drug story
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a&eletters@sfbg.com

DRUG LIT You can go to these places. Reading Righteous Dopefiend (University of California, 392 pages, $24.95), I kept trying to pinpoint, via clues in the text, where on "Edgewater Blvd." — Bayshore — the homeless heroin addicts whose lives the book chronicles were encamped. You want to know if you've walked by them. Read more »

This land is 'Methland'

THE DRUG ISSUE: A new book tracks a drug through America's cracks and faultlines
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DRUG LIT Books claiming to be about drugs in some way — whether nominally fiction or nonfiction — all run up against the same problem: pharmacodependency is already culture. Or, as the literary theorist and academic Avital Ronell puts it in her brilliant, uncategorizable tract, Crack Wars (University of Illinois Press, 1993), drugs articulate "a quiver between history and ontology."

Put another way, drugs aren't everything, but rituals of self-maintenance and care, from vitamins to exercise and so on, are built on addictive structures. Read more »