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Fall Arts: Your Wee Guide to This Season's Bay Area Books 

Wednesday, Sep 5 2012

Telegraph Avenue
Involving: The fictive owners of an East Bay record shop, their midwife wives, an ex-NFL star, an ex-blaxploitation star, disquisitions on race and class and used vinyl and childbirth, very fancy prose, and the literary event of the season.

Sample lines: "The girl shrugged, eyes wide and teary but not despairing. Without cant or reference to the threefold moon goddess or other such nonsense, it was a deep and solemn business that they were about in this room, and nobody was going to feel that, in all its fathomlessness, like a kid. Certainly not old Garth over there, sacked out with one toe poking out of his left sock and sleep working the bellows of his skinny frame."

Swooning blurbage: Where Elle saw "an Electra Glide flow of Zen sentences and zinging metaphors," Esquire likened the assembly of those same sentences to "executing a triple back flip on a bucking bull while juggling chain saws and making love to three women." Attaboy, M.C.

Sister Spit: Writing, Rants and Reminiscence from the Road
Involving: The launch of Sister Spit Books, a new City Lights imprint. As its title suggests, a print chronicle of the girls-only open mic that grew into a wayfaring cabaret of queer feminist performance, or what beloved local author Tea calls "our lived example of outsider experience" and also "a group slumber party with all the most interesting people I've met." These include Beth Lisick, MariNaomi, Eileen Myles, Ali Liebegott, and many more.

Sample lines: "When you were born a dork and knew you were a dork and later knew you weren't one of those cool dorks who would celebrate her lifelong dorkiness, but were the kind of dork who'd do anything to remove that taint from the historical record, and executed what you considered strategic choices at each social juncture, putting more and more buffer between you and that initial dork-self, only to then find yourself at 30 in intimate circumstance with the alternate adult person you could have all too easily become, the encounter will conjure such levels of unease, it borders on pathological." (From Tamara Llosa-Sandor's "Real Paper Letter")

Swooning blurbage: Margaret Cho, who wouldn't lie about such things, calls it "revolutionary."

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Involving: A bookshop clerk in North Beach meeting peculiar people who care about books, possibly for reasons of international conspiracy and potential immortality.

Sample lines: "The nights fall one into the other and the bookstore grows quieter and quieter. A week goes by without a single customer. On my laptop, I summon up the dashboard for my hyper-targeted ad campaign, and discover that it has delivered, so far, exactly zero impressions. There's a bright yellow message from Google in the corner of the screen suggesting that my criteria might be too narrow and I might have specified a potential customer base of zero."

Swooning blurbage: Quoth Flavorpill: "A mysterious bookstore, puzzles, adventure, secret societies, quirky humor, new knowledge, old knowledge, and old-old knowledge." Quoth somebody on "It's chock-full of bibliophile goodness."

A Working Theory of Love
Involving: Among other things, a disaffected San Franciscan whose dead father's diaries are of special interest to a company trying to build a sentient computer.

Sample lines: "I grew up in the South, but made my home here in San Francisco for what are called lifestyle reasons. I enjoy the rain-washed streets, the tidy view of downtown, the earnest restaurant trends (right now it's offal), the produce spilling from corner stores, farmer's markets, pickup trucks. There are many like me here — single people beached in life — and I make passing friends, passing girlfriends. Right after my marriage ended I went on a crazed apartment hunt in Silicon Valley, closer to work, but soon saw what would become of me. I would disappear into my house, my housework, lawn work. I would become a specter, and this is the great peril of bachelorhood — that you'll become so airy and insubstantial that people will peer straight through you."

Swooning blurbage: "Hutchins' portrait of human longing falls as warm and slant across these pages as a California sunset," avows Adam Johnson. Gary Shteyngart adds: "damn, this book's got something for everyone!"

About The Author

Jonathan Kiefer

SF Weekly movie critic Jonathan Kiefer is on Twitter: @kieferama and of course @sfweeklyfilm.


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