Literature

Buy local

Give your loved ones a taste of the Bay Area lit scene
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lit@sfbg.com

WISH LIST There are two kinds of gift books: the coffee-table book and the bathroom book. One has the cool cover and arty pics for people to gasp over at parties. The other has teeny bits of content that you zip through while transacting your effluvia. Of course, rents in San Francisco being what they are, for many the toilet now doubles as the coffee table. We don't judge. Read more »

Seeing other people

On highways, families, ghosts, and gods: unwrapping the gift of a good story
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lit@sfbg.com

WISH LIST When I give a book as a present, I like to have a good story to tell about where it came from — about the author's travels or secret family life or public stunts. Many of 2007's best bets for worthy literary gifts tell such stories on their own. Read more »

Shelf help

Books to get you through the holidays — and ready for a new year
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lit@sfbg.com

WISH LIST My family of origin is so nuclear that on smoggy days a mushroom cloud can be seen above the suburb where my parents still reside. During the holidays we gather there to rehearse and stage the roles we will alternately perform and resist in the ensuing year. While Dad tracks holiday cards sent and received on an Excel spreadsheet, Mom dons a pair of felt antlers and holes up in the kitchen. Read more »

Lust and loss

Cruising the landscape of gay world-making
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lit@sfbg.com

Many dedicated faggots have made the comparison between cocksucking and prayer, especially when knees are planted in the ground, eyes closed because of something too powerful to look at. But Christopher Russell's Landscape, a book of black-and-white photos of men cruising San Francisco's Buena Vista Park, at first appears to take this assertion one step further — with the trees towering above and light cascading onto shirts, hands, exposed asses, it's almost as if these men have stumbled into heaven. Read more »

Marginalia

Ruminations on Exit Ghost -- and the responsibility of fiction
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paulr@sfbg.com

Reading a work of fiction is a little like getting into someone else's car for a trip that someone else has planned without consulting you: it's an act of trust. The car pulls up and you climb in. You hope that the headlights and brakes are in working order and that there is no liquor on the driver's breath. You assume that the driver knows the route, even if you don't; you assume the destination is a worthy one, even if you've never heard of it. Discreetly you fasten your seat belt. Read more »

The art world

The Learning to Love You More project exposes creative forces across the globe
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lit@sfbg.com

REVIEW Somewhere along a Los Angeles freeway, a couple have a tense conversation about hamburgers. In Southwick, Mass., three women allow their hair to be braided together, and a Houston resident writes the eventful story of her life in a day. In a bedroom in Sydney, Australia, the dress a young woman wore the day she lost her virginity is laid out on the floor, along with the shoes that, she notes, stayed on for the duration. Read more »

Marginalia

Invasion of the party snatchers
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>paulr@sfbg.com

When the obituary of the Republican Party is written, it will be noted that the GOP died of war wounds, many but not all of them taken during the kamikaze mission in Iraq. For over the past half century, it has gone from being the party of cautious, America-first realism to one of reflexive belligerence; its embrace of militarism has been passionate and, perhaps, fatal. Read more »

The big guns

The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps brings back the dames, the dicks, and the dirty deeds of a bygone era
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lit@sfbg.com

REVIEW Over the past 15 years, a steady stream of good, bad, and indifferent anthologies has promised to deliver the thrills of pulp fiction. Read more »

Shorts

Foreskin's Lament, Sentences: The Life of MF Grimm, Shortcomings, and more
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FORESKIN'S LAMENT

By Shalom Auslander

Riverhead Books

320 pages, $24.95

It's possible that one of the 613 commandments in the Torah is "Thou shall not read Foreskin's Lament." Which of course means read it. If you've got the time, read it twice, once from right to left. You'll still laugh. Read more »

Cemetery days

Poems smuggled out of Buchenwald record two sisters' observations from inside a living hell
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lit@sfbg.com

REVIEW A smaller selection of the poems in A Wall of Two would have been easier to take. Presented here in more than 50 bone-shaking adaptations by poet Fanny Howe, the devastating early works by sisters Henia and Ilona Karmel, survivors of the German concentration camp Buchenwald, are so harrowing I could read only a few at a time. Read more »