Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Great Dao

EVENT READINGS UPDATE: Dao Strom will now be reading at the Bazaar Cafe in SF instead of the now defunct ACWLP (so sad) on the same date July 19, 7 pm -the address is 5927 California Street, between 21st and 22nd Aves. She'll also be at the very hip Bookshop Santa Cruz on July 27.

THE MAY QUEEN READING DATE HAS BEEN CHANGED TO WEDNESDAY, JULY 26 at 7pm at Cody's in San Francisco with an after-party at the bar at Fifth Floor. Here's hoping you can join us there.

Also, here's a sweet interview with my hometown weekly. Catherine OBrion, a student at UT, has a promising career in journalism ahead of her. One typo: It's Red Herring.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Daughter of Fortune

I have lived in Marin County for six years now and in all that time I had never happened on our local luminary Isabel Allende. I knew that she lived in San Rafael with her beloved husband, Willie, and had heard the story of how she discovered her muse at Aroma Cafe -a barista for the cover of her novel Daughter of Fortune (pictured above). I have bumped into Sharon Stone at Black Oak Books; noticed Jill Eikenberry ushered to a private room at Jeanty at Jack's; passed Jill's husband Michael pushing a grocery cart full of mini vodkas; dined next to Annie Lamott and friends at Insalata's; I have even seen Dave Eggers scurrying down the steps at Mill Valley Public Library, but never, never Isabel. I first read Eva Luna in high school and wept through most of Paula. Since then, I have been a devoted fan of her literary and non-profit work.

So when my daughter and I waltzed into a bead store in Mill Valley last week and I spied a diminutive woman dressed in a sheer, floral get-up with a massive, jewel-encrusted belt, hiding behind black, Kate Spade sunglasses, I was too overcome to speak to her. Isabel has a very imposing presence for one so small. The truth is I didn't want to bother her. I just wanted to stare at her, but Lily wasn't having it. She, who at first had been so good-natured- quietly surveying the enormous collection of jars and delicately touching them and saying, "jus look, no touch," then threw a fit in front of my heroine. Needless to say, I didn't speak to her and when the bell tinkled as she walked out the door, I asked the nice lady who had repaired my earring if she knew who she was? Who? Oh well. Next time, I'll say hello!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Instant Love's Gonna Get You

Jami Attenberg has made a spectacular debut with Instant Love. She'll read on Wednesday, June 28, at Book Shop West Portal at 80 West Portal Avenue in SF at 7 pm. Further afield, you can see the former resident read on Thursday, June 29th in an event sponsored by Pearl Necklace Zine at Copperfield's Books in Napa at 7 pm. Instant hit!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I'm Your Man

Ah, the moon's not too bright to attend a screening of Leonard Cohen I'm Your Man as part of Film Independent's LA Film Festival. With Leonard Cohen and special musical guest, the brilliant Martha Wainwright. Saturday, June 24, 8 pm at Ford Amphitheatre. Sigh.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Calvacade of Thrills

Celebrate summer solstice with Found Magazine phenoms Davy and Peter Rothbart who will be reading their most daring finds and performing Peter's new songs based on Found items tonight at Edinburgh Castle at 8 pm. Tomorrow night at Intersection of the Arts at 9 pm and on Friday at Pegasus Books in Berkeley at 8 pm. Tally ho!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Draw Bridge

When I ordered my holiday cards last year, I discovered Draw Bridge, a local arts program for homeless children. By encouraging children with little resources to create art in a supportive environment, Draw Bridge instills a sense of stability, well-being, and community. Through Our Eyes, a traveling exhibit of the kids' work, will be on view at the Performing Arts Center Gallery in Unity, Maine through June and at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Mass. in September. For more gift ideas, check out their store.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Dao's 3 Things

Multitalented MQ Dao Strom will be in the San Francisco Bay Area promoting her latest book The Gentle Order of Girls and Boys at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books on July 19. She'll also perform her glorious folk music at The Starry Plough in Berkeley on July 21. Check out her tour calendar for other cool upcoming events.

Dao's Three Things:
1. Learn to speak and read Vietnamese
2. Live in Vietnam for an extended period of time, and write more about Vietnam
3. Do a lot more rock-climbing in places all over the world I've never been to

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Belles Lettres

Kudos to Victor Greto of The News Journal for including TMQ in his "Long and Short of It: Essay Books Work." He briefly praises TMQ and Marisa de los Santos' moving essay, "Wide Awake."

Once upon a time, I asked Beth Lisick to contribute an essay to TMQ. Regrettably, in the end we decided her piece wasn't quite right for the collection. I have remained a huge fan of her writing and her Porchlight storytelling series. I just recently finished her uproariously irreverent Everybody Into The Pool. The stories offer her unusual brand of humor and perspective- especially the telling ones about her family.

If you're in LA tomorrow afternoon, you should see Peter Richardson present a lecture on the legendary Nation editor, Carey McWilliams, entitled Always in Fashion? Carey McWilliams, California Radicalism, and the Politics of Cool. 4-6 p.m. Department of Special Collections A1713 Charles E. Young Research Library at UCLA. Champagne reception and book signing to follow lecture. Formidable!

Monday, June 12, 2006

A Fond Farewell

I was really sad to learn that Cody's Books on Telegraph Avenue had to close its doors on July 10 after 43 years in business. When I lived in Berkeley, I loved whiling away a few hours just roaming amidst their well-organized stacks. I am however pleased to announce that we will be doing a reading at Cody's new Stockton Street (Union Square) store on July 27 at 7pm. I'll be joined by Kimberley Askew, Michelle Richmond, and Erin Cressida Wilson. Look for upcoming details on a small party afterwards. Cheers!

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Based on MQ Michelle Richmond's recommendation and after noticing it on a list of Time Magazine's All-Time 100 Novels, I still had little expectation of this book. My words could not possibly do Marilynne Robinson's justice. So here then is an excerpt for your reading pleasure:
Everything that falls upon the eye is apparition, a sheet dropped over the world's true workings. The nerves and the brain are tricked, and one is left with dreams that these specters loose their hands from ours and walk away, the curve of the back and the swing of the coat so familiar to imply that they should be permanent fixtures of the world, when in fact nothing is more perishable. Say that my mother was as tall as a man, and she sometimes set me on her shoulders, so that I could splash my hands in the cold leaves above our heads. Say that my grandmother sang in her throat while she sat on the bed and we laced up her big black shoes. Such detail are merely accidental. Who could know but us? And since their thoughts were bent upon other ghosts but ours, other darknesses than we had seen, why must we be left, the survivors picking among flotsam, among the small, unnoticed, unvalued clutter that was all that remained when they vanished, that only catastrophe made notable? Darkness is the only solvent. While it was dark, despite Lucille's pacing and whistling, and despite what must have been dreams (since even Sylvie came to haunt me), it seemed to me that there need not be relic, remnant, margin, residue, memento, bequest, memory, thought, track, or trace, if only the darkness could be perfect and permanent.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Starry-eyed in the Lone Star State

My husband and I had our first get-away sans notre fille over Memorial Day weekend in Austin. I had eagerly awaited my chance to read with local contributors Amanda Eyre Ward and Dao Strom and to see our good friends Claire and Colin get hitched at the Salt Lick Pavilion in Driftwood. I found Austin a warm and inviting city. Our first night, we had dinner at Polvo's, took in the bat show at Congress Avenue Bridge with other lazy picnickers lounging on their blankets at dusk, and finally had drinks at Austin landmark, the Driskill Hotel. Then on Saturday, we had a late brunch (key word being late) at Starlite and went on a bit of a field trip to gigantic Terra Toys and Toy Joy to buy gifts for our girl. Dinner was at the mahvelously tasty Clay Pit followed by TMQ reading at BookPeople with Amanda Eyre Ward. Unfortunately, Dao Strom couldn't make the reading at the last minute. So Amanda read a few pages from her hilarious story and I read a few from Dao's essay. Grand huzzahs to Amanda for being such a trooper and agreeing to read only five days after she moved back to Austin from Cape Cod.

Claire and Colin's wedding was sublime. Their friends read original poetry they had created for the occasion and an e.e. cummings poem. Their recessional was Here Comes the Sun which was our wedding processional five years ago. (I liked the idea of playing Here Comes the Sun instead of Here Comes The Bride.) The pavilion was beautifully decorated with twinkly lights and bouquets of wildflowers in mason jars. Salt Lick BBQ was possibly the best I've ever eaten. We had a wedding scavenger hunt, listened to moving speeches, and were led through a zombie dance routine to Thriller! All and all, a glorious wedding.

TMQ in The New York Times!

I was shocked to discover TMQ cover featured on the front page of the Sunday Styles section in The New York Times last Sunday. I disagree with Mr. McGrath's take on women's anthologies and his comparison of TMQ with The Bitch in the House. As much as I admired TBITH, I was trying to create a book very different from Cathi's. The model was really more a book from Cathleen Rountree's series. At any rate, it was a wonderful surprise to see the book included in such fine company.
The 27th annual National Women's Studies Association conference and book exhibition will be held at the Oakland Marriott City Center and the Oakland Convention Center from June 15-18. On Thursday night ay 7pm, Rebecca Walker will be their keynote speaker. Please stop by the Penguin booth at the book exhibit (Friday-Sunday) and check out their new titles including TMQ.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Queen For A Day

Merci beaucoup to that heavenly creature Lauren Cerand for choosing my winning entry to her Marie-Antoinette inspired DJ fashion show!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

LA Lady

Kim and I got to spend the weekend of May 12 with her good friend Amy Helmes in her Beverly Hills apartment. Amy is such a breath of fresh air and so funny. The reading at Dutton's in Brentwood that Friday began as a sort of reunion for most of us. When Erin Cressida Wilson, Heather Juergensen, and Meghan Daum arrived, it felt as if we were greeting old friends. Dutton's staff were expecially gracious and kind. Erin and I launched into a pre-reading conversation about work and our children who were born a day apart. It was a great pleasure to finally meet Deb Norton when she waltzed in with her boyfriend Chris Nottoli and her mother. Kim and I were lucky enough to get to see Deb and Chris perform together in her fantastic play The Whole Banana. The reading went splendidly. After the book signing, I really enjoyed talking to Dutton's Diane Leslie -a very charming and engaging author and bookseller.

I'm grateful to the people who attended our reading including my smashing friend Emily Vassos' sister Jenny, Theresa Duncan from Wit of the Staircase and her handsome boyfriend, Erin's adorable son Liam, Glenn Zucman, Margaret and Chris and their two sweethearts Sophia and Zoe, among other friends.

After the reading, we had a fabulous time toasting each other at Air-Conditioned, a lounge which Heather J.'s hairstylist recommended to us. When the long-anticipated cheese plate was no longer available, Kim's friend Scott made a quick trip for Mexican food around the corner and kindly brought it back to the bar to share with our party of starving literati. Deb Norton gave me some great tips on how she launched her successful teaching career and I also spoke with Scott's sweet girlfriend Masha Sapron about her play on turning 30.

Things I loved about our trip: Dinner at Cobras & Matadors (delicious and so affordable), our two hour chat with the delightful parfumeur at Strange Invisible, and drinks at The Dresden with Marty and Elayne. Thanks to Amy Helmes and Deb's mom for the wonderful photographs! I'm sorry we didn't get a photo with everyone included. Next world tour!
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