Literature

Shock and awe

Aurobora Press and the end of an era
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After 15 years of a labor of printmaking love in what has become the artistic heart of SoMa, Aurobora Press has to be out of its home at 147 Natoma Street by the end of the month. When the landlord came forward with a tenant able to pay three times what the press was shelling out for the historic back-alley building, built in 1907 with bricks from the rubble of the earthquake, Aurobora — no stranger to our languishing economy — was forced to pack its bags. Read more »

The wayward west

America is not a freeway in Jon Raymond's Livability
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The world falls away again and again in Jon Raymond's short stories. The 10 pieces comprising Livability (Bloomsbury, 272 pages, $15), the Portland, Ore., author's first such collection, are introspective ellipses enshrouded in the march of everyday life. We may hear about a job or spouse in passing, but Raymond submerges his characters into stunned states of contingency. Read more »

This land was your land

The American West at Risk confronts mine-all-mine mentality
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Anyone paying any kind of attention has a deep-gut feeling that things aren't going well for Earth. No matter how fancy or technologically advanced we get, everything humans make and break is fashioned from the resources at hand — water, air, petroleum, minerals, soil and its nutrients, and plants and trees and their fruit. Your MacBook may look space age, but it didn't fall from the sky. "Nearly everything you use every day is based on minerals mined somewhere, often leaving behind disfigured land and a toxic mess," Howard G. Wilshire, Jane E. Nielson, and Richard W. Read more »

Speed Reading

83 Days of Radiation Sickness, The Photographs of Stanley Marcus, essays by LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), and stories by Ed Bullins
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A SLOW DEATH: 83 DAYS OF RADIATION SICKNESS

By NHK-TV "Tokaimura Criticality Accident Crew"

Vertical

160 pages

$19.95

It's tacky to begin a review of a book about death by radiation poisoning by praising the design of its jacket. But I'm afraid I have to — John Gall's art for A Slow Death: 83 Days of Radiation Sickness is unique in a gaze-snatching fashion. Read more »

Herself redefined

The word is the thing in The Collected Poems of Barbara Guest
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although I don't enjoy real lakes

Barbara Guest, Biography

Barbara Guest (1920-2006) once told me she shared a taxi in Manhattan with Marianne Moore. Seeing Guest unsuccessfully hail a cab, Moore impulsively instructed the driver of the one she was in to pull over and pick up the young poet. Moore didn't know Guest was a poet, and Guest was too intimidated to confess it, though they had a pleasant chat before Moore dropped her off at her destination.

There's something fitting about this encounter. Read more »

Vive l'amour

Stephanie Young remakes icons and images in Picture Palace
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REVIEW Stephanie Young edited the anthology Bay Poetics (Faux Press, 432 pages, $29), which attempted to take a snapshot of the Bay Area's poetry scene while acknowledging the failure built into such a task. Her second book of poetry, Picture Palace (in girum imus nocte et consumimur igni, 120 pages, $15), is not particularly concerned with choosing between various poetic modes and traditions. Read more »

Blessed be

The Necronomicon has an expensive 31st birthday party
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What the hell is the Necronomicon? A figment of H.P. Lovecraft's imagination? A demon-awakening tool foolishly deployed in the Evil Dead movies? A manifestation of Aleister Crowley's magical powers? Or simply a good old-fashioned hoax?

For purposes of this review, Necronomicon (Ibis, 220 pages, $125) is none of the above. Assume, if you will, that it's a tome based on Sumerian mythology, filled with line drawings and incantations. Read more »

Reel time travel

A book-length encounter with the criminally obscure Ulrike Ottinger
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How often do you encounter a living artist whose radical and prolific body of work is criminally obscure? I can't evangelize enough about the German filmmaker Ulrike Ottinger, whose work is the subject of Laurence A. Read more »

He's not Michael Cera

And George Watsky doesn't need a fucking MC name
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PROFILE George Watsky was 15 the first time I saw him perform one of his poems. The venue was an afternoon open mic at the Stanford Jazz Workshop, a one-week program that immerses teens in the art of jazz. I was 14, and was impressed and charmed by Watsky's fast-talking savvy. That the last line included the word "fuck" made the poem a crowd-pleaser to the teenage audience.

The following year, Watsky the San Francisco lyrical prodigy was back with another captivating poem. Read more »

Along the y-axis

Scoping out Lily Hoang's Parabola
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PARABOLA

By Lily Hoang

Chiasmus

336 pages

$14.95

Lily Hoang's Parabola is the kind of text that solicits a rereading, but you aren't dutifully bound to return to its beginning. Read more »