A sizzling tale

'Zodiac' author Robert Graysmith talks San Francisco history and his new book, 'Black Fire'


LIT Every San Franciscan has at least some knowledge of the city's pre-1906 earthquake days (Gold Rush!), with the more curious able to rattle off a few more random tidbits (Emperor Norton!)Read more »

Parsley, sage, rosemary, and timewarp

New book lays bare the countercultural roots of the Renaissance Faire


Shake, rattle, and read

Litquake's biblio-pocalypse approacheth


LIT What do you get when you bring together a horde of ravenous bibliophiles in a city that's known for the possibility of a future catastrophic event? No, not the zombie-nerd apocalypse: Litquake, the largest annual independent literary festival on the West Coast. This year's nine-day festival runs from Fri/5 through Sat/13, ending with Lit Crawl, the infamous booklovers pub-crawl that words up the Mission. The festival's venues are as diverse as its writers, ranging from theaters, coffee houses, bars to a barbershop, a bee-keeping supply store, even a parklet. Read more »

'Fire' insight: talking with David Wojnarowicz biographer Cynthia Carr


The following interview took place with Cynthia Carr, author of Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz (Bloomsbury USA, 624 pp., $35), on an early fall afternoon at the old Odessa Restaurant on Avenue A in the Lower East Side, New York City — one of the few places left where you can still pretend you're in the LES of Wojnarowicz's day. Carr will be at the San Francisco Art Institute Wed/3 to discuss her book. Read Erick Lyle's review of the book here.

San Francisco Bay Guardian Your book is the first real biography of David Wojnarowicz. Up until now, the best book on him I thought was that Semiotext(e) book, David Wojnarowicz: A Definitive History of Five or Six Years on the Lower East Side. Your book has a lot of that same feel, the layers and layers of neighborhood detail. But, of course, your book has the advantage of having all of David's thoughts and perspective on the same events because you have his journals and his correspondence. How were you able to access all of that material?

Cynthia Carr All of his papers are at Fales Library at NYU — all of his journals and the letters he kept. And I did get letters from quite a few other people, like his boyfriend in Paris, Jean-Pierre. At the beginning of the relationship, David wrote to JP at least every other day and later at least once a week.

When I went to Paris I took a scanner with me and back home I printed them out. The stack was like four inches thick! It was filled with information about what he was doing or working on every day. While the journals from those times are mostly about him going to the piers for sex, which he didn’t tell his boyfriend too much about! [Laughs.] The letters, though, are all about where he was living or where he was working, or ... really, most of the time, he was looking for work… I was very fortunate to get that.

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Pop thrills

A romp through this year's bumper crop of trash lit


LIT So much trash lit, so little summer left. It hasn't been the greatest of years for beach and backyard reading (seriously, more trash than lit), but we struggle on. Some selections:


By Lee Child

Delacourte Press

405 pp, hardcover $28

Jack Reacher is one of the best action characters of our time, up there with Spenser and Travis McGee.Read more »

Tasty reads

Blue Bottle, SPQR, Foraged Flavor....: Fresh new cookbooks to spice up your repertoire


LIT A harvest of cookbooks, some set for release in the fall, some ready for your shelf, cupboard, or bar hot off the press.


By James Freeman, Caitlin Freeman, and Tara Duggan

Ten Speed Press

240 pp, paper $24.95Read more »

Pagoda madness

A native son counters the myths of Chinatown in a new book


LIT Either I'm terrible at parking or Philip P. Choy was exactly the right person to author his recently-released San Francisco Chinatown: A Guide to Its History and Architecture (City Lights Publishers, 184pp, $15.95). We find a spot for my car in a well-hidden lot, tucked into an alleyway behind the Chinese Historical Society of America. It's the first sign of the day that Choy's knowledge of the area goes beyond tea shops and Peking duck.Read more »

Beyond the Pink

1980s teen movie star Molly Ringwald finds new success as an acclaimed author -- but can she still put lipstick on with her cleavage? 


LIT Molly Ringwald is 44, fabulous, and living a dream life in Santa Monica with her gorgeous husband and three daughters. She's also far from shy when it comes to talking about her storied past as an 1980s movie legend, the red-headed dream girl of choice for a generation of disaffected teens.Read more »

Appetite: Delicious new cuisine and cocktail reads


Fermentation and distillation, hot plats and sugar cones, sweet creams and brokeasses ... These eight books were released this spring, and are among the best of what has landed on my desk this year:

by Huber Germain-Robin

Anyone who knows US craft distilling knows Hubert Germain-Robin, one of the pioneers in the American craft distilling movement. He was making world class, French-style brandies (he is French, after all) since the early ’80s right here in Northern California at Germain-Robin, which he co-founded, an example to generations after him of what true, elegant brandies should be. As he states in the introduction, "When I came to California in 1981, I realized the unbelievable potential of the New World, with such diversity in grape varietals, microclimates, and less demanding restrictions than there are in France."

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8 cultural happenings this week in the big, best, beautiful Bay


It is inevitable after reading today's Best of the Bay 2012 issue that your heart will be swole with pride for our beautiful Bay Area By the Bay. Seize the moment! There are a plethora of arts and culture happenings this week that are perfect examples of -- as our managing editor Marke B. put it in his intro to BOB -- "the sheer gorgeousness, thriving alternative culture, and promise of freedom and acceptance that are unique to our shores." Cheers! Read more »