Inez Storer: Allow Nothing to Worry You

Last week a friend of mine and I played hookey to go to the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. The first Tuesday of the month is their free day.  The CJM has never disappointed.  C.J. and I typically go three or four times a year, yes on free Tuesdays, and have always been at least entertained. Sometimes we have been inspired. The current shows … Continue reading Inez Storer: Allow Nothing to Worry You

My New Favorite Book: Fat City by Leonard Gardner

Add Fat City by Leonard Gardner to the list of great anti-California novels. That’s a new sub-genre I’m creating.  The anti-California novel looks at the great California dream’s underbelly.  What happened to all those people who came to California and didn’t strike it rich, but stayed here anyway? Think Nathenial West’s The Day of the Locust, Charles Bukowski’s Ham and Rye, John Fante’s  Ask the Dust.  There’s a rich body of … Continue reading My New Favorite Book: Fat City by Leonard Gardner

Looking for the Next School Wide Read

Finding a book suitable for grades six, seven and eight is not easy. The difference between a seventh grader and an eighth grader is dramatic, but the difference between a sixth and an eighth grader is stunning. This year we did our first school wide read, Chew on This by Charles Wilson and Eric Schlosser, based on Mr. Schlosser’s best-selling book Fast Food Nation.  Each subject area read several … Continue reading Looking for the Next School Wide Read

Sunday Ramble: Travels, Art and Jane Austen Challenge

C.J. and I visited Los Angeles this past week to see the James Kerry Marshall retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the same show we saw last summer in Chicago.  We’ve become big fans of Mr. Marshall’s work. It was a mad-cap three-day trip–drive down, day in L.A. and drive home–but we managed to visit three bookstores while we were there.  We stayed in … Continue reading Sunday Ramble: Travels, Art and Jane Austen Challenge

Sunday Ramble and Two Books I Didn’t Like. Sorry.

Visited the local Friends of the Library book sale yesterday, in the rain, where C.J. and I managed to spend much more than we intended.  He got several art books and a couple of books full of house plans while I nearly completed my Jane Austen collection. Can you name the book I still have to find. I’ve decided it’s a good time to re-read all … Continue reading Sunday Ramble and Two Books I Didn’t Like. Sorry.

Black Wave by Michelle Tea

When I was in college, I was friends with a group of women who shared a flat on Divisidero Street in San Francisco, decades before it became a trendy neighborhood.  In the 1980’s, four college students living on four or five hundred dollars a month  each could come up with enough money to rent a flat.  As longs as no one spends all the rent … Continue reading Black Wave by Michelle Tea

In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes

In 1947, an excellent thriller needed only four characters: two women, one a respectable policeman’s wife the other a woman of questionable character, and two men, one a police detective the other a serial killer.  With these four characters and a small supporting cast, Dorothy Hughes created an excellent noir thriller In A Lonely Place that can more than hold its own against any of … Continue reading In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes

Double Indemnity by James M. Cain

Man, what a ride! Back when the giant “Hollywood” sign still ended in”Land,” Walter Huff, long time agent for a small time Los Angeles insurance company stops at the Nirdlinger home to get Mr. Nirdlinger’s signature on a routine renewal form.  Nirdlinger’s wife Phyllis informs Huff that she’s alone.  The two quickly begin an affair that ends with a plot to kill Mr. Nirdlinger and … Continue reading Double Indemnity by James M. Cain

Of Flesh and Fur by Duncan Barlow

It’s not easy to find these books.  Small, very small, independent press books each of them clearly a labor of love at every step of the way. I found The Cupboard Press at a writer’s and writing conference in Los Angeles last year, two young people sitting at a table in the vast exhibition hall.  I liked their little books, each small enough to fit … Continue reading Of Flesh and Fur by Duncan Barlow

Americans and the California Dream by Kevin Starr–Chapter I: Prophetic Patterns 1786-1850

This doesn’t count as a resolution, but on New Year’s Day I finally embarked on reading Kevin Starr’s history of California which currently stands at six volumes, last time I checked. A few years ago I read his single volume history California and loved it.  Entertaining and informative, a clear eye-ed history of the state written by a man who’s been in love with the place … Continue reading Americans and the California Dream by Kevin Starr–Chapter I: Prophetic Patterns 1786-1850

Season of the Witch by David Talbot

What struck me, most about David Talbot’s history of  San Francisco was just how violent the times were. Season of the Witch concentrates on the years between the Summer of Love, 1968, and the AIDS epidemic of the 1980’s.  The 1970’s are largely remembered today for disco and very, shall we say, creative fashions but this was a period of violent upheaval in America, certainly … Continue reading Season of the Witch by David Talbot