Literature

Pipe dreams and nightmares

New memoir Opium Fiend documents an obsession with the cause of the "world's first real drug epidemic."

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LIT In the early pages of his new memoir, Steven Martin admits he's obsessive. This is not uncommon, he explains, for collectors — not to be confused with the dilettantes he calls "gatherers." Serious hobbyists hunt down highly specific items, fervently scrutinize them, and then evangelize to whoever'll listen about their findings.Read more »

Prancing at the revolution

QUEER ISSUE: Why Are Faggots so Afraid of Faggots? questions queer assimilationism

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marke@sfbg.com

QUEER ISSUE "Right now it seems we have more in common with the Christian Right than the gay liberation movement. We've become so focused on marriage as the end-all and be-all of gay rights that it's completely within the realm of possibility that the next leader of Focus on the Family could be a gay man. We all have to get married now for tax breaks, health care, or to stay in this country? Are you kidding me?" Mattilda Sycamore Bernstein spilled some truth into my hot pink Princess phone.Read more »

Big trouble in old China

Author Paul French investigates a decades-old murder in Midnight in Peking

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cheryl@sfbg.com

LIT It was a cold, windy January morning in 1937 when a horrifically mutilated body was found sprawled at the base of a rumored-to-be-haunted watchtower in what was then called Peking.Read more »

Ink equality

A new anthology of female comic book artists doubles as a networking tool

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LIT It started with a tweet. On May 17, 2011, Renae De Liz, following up on a suggestion by fellow comic book artist Jessica Hickman, pitched "an anthology made by all females" to her Twitter followers. The immediate response was unprecedented, as was the support that funneled in through the Kickstarter that was launched in July.Read more »

Panther cry

New Bay anthology "Listen Whitey!" plays the sounds of black power

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culture@sfbg.com

LIT Over a five-year period in Oakland, California, archivist Pat Thomas befriended key leaders of the Black Power movement, dug through Huey Newton's archives at Stanford University, spent countless hours and thousands of dollars on eBay, and talked to rank and file Black Panther Party members. He uncovered dozens of obscure albums, singles, and stray tapes. Along the way, he began to piece together a time period (1967-1974) when revolutionaries were seen as pop culture icons.Read more »

Just longing for sameness

An Irish author's travels end in San Francisco, for now

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[An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Paul Robeson as Renee Gibbons' lover, when in fact it was William Marshall. We regret the error]

caitlin@sfbg.com

IRISH Yesterday she and her husband received notice that it would soon be converted into a condo. But for the moment, it is still hers. We are sitting in Irish author Renee Gibbons' rent-controlled North Beach apartment of 31 years and she is telling me about the time she saw Van Morrison walking down Columbus Street in the 1970s.Read more »

Frilly werewolf

Christine Beatty is Not Your Average American Girl

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LIT "When you've lived so far like I have," Christine Beatty's wry voice came crackling through the phone as she drove to Las Vegas to play the slots, "you sometimes just have to catch your eye in the rearview mirror and laugh. I've led such a charmed life, really."Read more »

Cut + Paste

BOOKS ISSUE: Zine culture survives and thrives, beyond the Web

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emilysavage@sfbg.com

LIT For the winter holidays many years back, I received a long-arm stapler. It wasn't a surprise, I'd expressly asked for it. And no, I was not a teenage office supply fetishist.

I wanted the stapler because I wrote, cut-and-pasted, and hand-assembled my own zine, and that process was about to get a lot more efficient, thanks to my new long-arm. Those who've crafted their own DIY booklets know the thrill of the further-stretching stapler that meets the paper crease.Read more »

Cult wonder

BOOKS ISSUE: Gender-hopping protagonist Vanessa Michael Munroe is back in thriller The Innocent

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tredmond@sfbg.com

LIT If you're shopping for that special thriller fan on your list, you might want to pop an I.O.U. into his or her stocking: the best thriller of the year doesn't hit bookstores until Dec. 27.Read more »