Is Litquake too much? Not for this book lover

SFC_2019-10-08-p28My October 8 book culture column for the San Francisco Chronicle:

For Jack, the moment when he knew the long hours, the money woes, the countless details were all worthwhile came during the 2008 tribute to Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Tom Waits was onstage improvising music to “Coney Island of the Mind.” Marcus Shelby was playing bass. “It’s all downhill from here,” he thought.

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A book lover comes clean: I have never read ‘Infinite Jest.’ Or ‘War and Peace’

SFChron_2019_08_27_Page28sMy August 27 book culture column for the San Francisco Chronicle:

I’m coming clean. Here are books I’ve lied about reading: “War and Peace.” “Gravity’s Rainbow.” “Infinite Jest.” And that’s just for starters. Had my book club not shamed me into reading “Ulysses” and “Swann’s Way” I would have lied about those too.

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Is it worth paying $7,500 to have your book published? Maybe.

SFC_2019-07-30_E6My July 30 book culture column for the San Francisco Chronicle:

My ex-husband’s uncle was a World War II fighter pilot who went down with the plane. A true hero. Several years ago, the family paid someone to write Uncle Dante’s story. They had about 100 books made and distributed them to family and friends. Everyone cherished those books, and Uncle Dante’s heroism was memorialized. To me, that’s one of the very best examples of self-publishing.

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Tricks of the used-book trade at Green Apple Books

SFC_2019_07_16-E6My July 16 book culture column for the San Francisco Chronicle:

E.H. Mann flips through a huge stack of books as if it were a deck of cards, adroitly placing them in three separate piles: Buy, Maybe and No Way. Mann, assistant manager at Green Apple Books on Clement Street, has been the store’s principal used book buyer for the past 19 years. Up to 50 people a day bring in books to sell.

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No need to feel guilty about the pleasures of mystery books

Chron_2019_07_02-E6My July 2 book culture column for the San Francisco Chronicle:

I have a dear friend who for years was a big-deal corporate lawyer in a big-deal New York firm. She worked insane hours and sacrificed a great deal on the road to making partner. But she had a secret guilty pleasure: Great piles of mysteries, the trashier the better, covered every flat surface in her apartment. It was in these satisfying pages that she found relaxation. Throw in a pint of Haagen-Dazs and life was sweet.

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Audiobooks aren’t a bad thing. Unless you’re driving, maybe.

HSFC_2019_06_18_E6_25pctMy June 18 book culture column for the San Francisco Chronicle:

Years ago, back when cassettes were a thing, I had my first driveway moment. My son and I were driving to our cabin in the Trinity Alps, and I’d brought Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air to entertain us on the long car ride. Five-and-a-half hours later we pulled up at the cabin. Usually we would jump out of the car as fast as possible to put on our swimsuits and head for the river. But this day, neither of us moved. We stayed in the car. We had to hear the end of the story.

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Here’s How to Keep a Book Club Together for Decades (It Involves Wine)

Datebook-E6-4June19My June 4 column for the San Francisco Chronicle’s Datebook—complete with a list of all 258 books my club has read.)

My book club started during the Reagan administration. The original members all worked at KPIX television in San Francisco, and somehow we discovered we all had a passion for good literature, serious stuff as opposed to best-sellers. We also discovered we’d all come of age during a time when the classics had been set aside in most higher education literature classes and replaced by what was alleged to be more relevant material. We had a hunger for reading what we’d missed—Tolstoy, Henry James, Jane Austen and the like—so that became our focus. And we’d read fiction exclusively.

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