Posts Tagged ‘Books’

Stacey D’Erasmo’s new novel ‘The Sky Below’

The third novel by Stacey D’Erasmo — a New York writer but one who lived in the Bay Area for a couple of years as a Stegner fellow at Stanford, and whose second novel was set here — is about a young man named Gabriel and his struggle to become himself — whether that self is actually a bird, an artist, or something else. Along the way, he lives in a seedy motel in Florida, buys a house in Brooklyn, and flees to a commune in Mexico.

Reviews have praised the novel’s beautiful prose. On Sunday the New York Times said: “Gabriel’s voice is irresistible… he’s a brilliant narrator. Vibrant and precise, his storytelling is memorable not so much for its individual phrases (though plenty are exquisite) as for its overall sense of immersion into a distinctive world.”

D’Erasmo appears at City Lights Bookstore on Wednesday at 7:00 pm.

After the jump, a short interview

SF doctor’s book released; film to star DiCaprio; interview

A year ago I blogged about Josh Bazell, a doctor at UCSF who had just gotten a million dollar book deal. Well, the book, Beat the Reaper, has just been released, and Leonardo DiCaprio has just been signed to star in a film of the comic thriller. I’ll let that E! Online article give the one-line summary of the book: it’s “a comic suspense tale about a former hit man hiding out as a Manhattan emergency room doctor whose cover is blown after a mobster recognizes him.” The main character is also a martial arts expert who kills people with his hands, as well as with — not to give away the ending — a particularly unique weapon.

I caught up with author Josh Bazell on Thursday and talked to him about his book and his work as a newly minted M.D.

How did you decide to write a novel about a hit man who has become a brilliant doctor?

I was interested in writing a book about the extent to which people can change their own identities. I was focused on that issue at the time because I was doing my medical training, and I was probably curious — and maybe fearful — about how it might change me.

Much more after the jump

Chronicle books section loses two editors in a few months

As reported by SF Weekly, the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle’s books section, Regan McMahon, has accepted a buyout and will leave the newspaper. McMahon had been books editor only a few months. She was promoted to the post when Oscar Villalon, who had helmed the section for several years, accepted a buyout in August.

According to the report, McMahon was assured by Chronicle managers that the paper would continue the 8-page tabloid section, which is now a pullout from the slightly longer Insight section of the Sunday paper. The moves come as newspapers across the country continue to hemorrhage money, with arts coverage being particularly vulnerable.

Zyzzyva in the LA Times

The LA Times had a nice piece today about Zyzzyva. The San Francisco litmag is still edited, after nearly 25 years, by its founder Howard Junker, though Junker is threatening to retire next year. I was charmed to read that Junker was a technical writer before being laid off by Bechtel, whereupon he founded the litmag. (Of course, the last time I was laid off by a high tech company, I finished my first novel during the downtime. And now look at me. I’m a technical writer again. And trying to finish my second novel.)

Mohr and more writing

Congratulations to San Francisco’s Joshua Mohr, whose debut novel “Some Things That Meant the World To Me” has been sold as part of a two-book deal, according to Publisher’s Marketplace. Mohr teaches a writing course at the local The Writing Salon and has had several short stories in litmags. But as far as I can tell from Google, he has neither a website nor a blog. So he actually might write a second book some day!

In Marin, the literary scene in remote but picturesque Point Reyes Station [map] was the subject of a long article in the Marin Independent Journal on Sunday. The piece draws attention to the visits by nationally known authors and political figures, as well as a recent three-day Stegner conference.

And the folks at Stephen Elliott‘s Progressive Reading Series are excited about the upcoming August 16 show to be headlined by Jonathan Franzen.

Dept. of Don’t know whether to laugh or cry

master-and-margarita_cover.jpgScore one for the Chronicle’s copy editors today with their headline in the wine section, Mastering the margarita, which is supposed to ring a bell for Mikhail Bulgakov’s masterpiece The Master and Margarita (which has nothing to do with the Mexican party beverage and not a whole lot to do with the cat on its cover, but is really a satire of 1930s Soviet repression).

This is one of those situations where, as a reader, you don’t know whether to cheer because we have (presumably) erudite headline writers, or boo for their lowering a great work of world literature for the purpose of a bad pun. But if only one reader buys the book and reads it because of this blog post, it will have put a small weight on the side of literature.

Totally awesome weekend

The number of things to do this weekend is mind-blowing. What shall it be?

Awesome local rockers 20 Minute Loop, whose new album Famous People Marry Famous People is filled with power-pop goodness reminiscent of Letters to Cleo, performs tonight at Bottom of the Hill.

The Porchlight reading series celebrates its 6th anniversary with a show on the Seven Deadly Sins, 8:00 pm at the Swedish American Hall. And tomorrow Ishmael Reed and Mistress Morgana headline Writers with Drinks at 7:30 pm at the Makeout Room.

CineKink, a program of alternative erotic films written up this week by the unsinkable Violet Blue, plays tonight at 7:00 pm at YBCA. And for the less carnally minded, Artists Television Access has The Monastery, about an old guy who buys a castle with the idea that it will some day become a spiritual retreat, and the nuns who take him up on it.

Or just hit the beach. It’s nice and cool out there today.

Oakland’s Diesel Books to open branch in L.A.

Diesel Books in Oakland - Flickr photo by vsmootheEveryone loves Diesel Books, the independent store on College Ave. in Oakland [map]. Now they’re planning to open a branch in the L.A. neighborhood of Brentwood, replacing the Dutton’s that closed last year. They already have a foothold down there in Malibu (ooo!).

In other book retailing news, a local neocon blogger criticizes Green Apple Books in the Richmond District for not carrying a book by Douglas Feith, a DoD hack who was involved in pushing the country to war in Iraq and is now one of the Bush administration’s most mocked and discredited figures. (Googling “Feith +idiot” gets 92,000 hits, for example.) The same blogger elsewhere refers to Feith’s book as “a masterpiece of history,” and in another entry characterizes global warming as “hysteria” and says “the most absurd part of this hysteria is the idea that we should reduce the amount of CO2 we produce.” So you can judge for yourself whether he’s credible on bookstore ordering policies.

Speaking of Green Apple Bookstore and the Bush administration, the Chronicle’s Kathleen Pender today quoted the store’s co-owner, Pete Mulvihill, as having a feeling customers were spending their Bush “stimulus checks” at the store, and Luan Stauss of Oakland’s Laurel Book Store said three customers had told her they were doing just that.

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