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Literary Guide

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 23:53:39 UT

Literary Guide 4 p.m. Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera. Agnieszka Ilwicka “A Polish Journey to Yiddish Language and Culture.” 1:30 p.m. Jewish Community Library, 1835 Ellis St., S.F. Jane Kriss “Next Stop Sausalito.” 4 p.m. Book Passage, 100 Bay St., Sausalito. Meredith Maran, Michelle Richmond The New Old Me: 7 p.m. Books Inc., 74 Town & Country Village, Palo Alto. Farid Matuk, Tonya Foster Fresh and Best Poetry Series. 7 p.m. Diesel, 5433 College Ave., Oakland. P.J. O’Rourke, Melissa Caen “How the Hell Did This Happen?: The Election of 2016.” Commonwealth Club, 555 Post St., S.F. (415) 597-6705. Amy Poeppel “Small Admissions.” 7 p.m. A Great Good Place for Books, 6120 LaSalle Ave., Oakland. Jim Shepard “The World to Come.” 7 p.m. Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera. Adam Alter “Irresistible.” 7 p.m. Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera. Sarah Andersen “Big Mushy Happy Lump.” Marty Brounstein “Two Among the Righteous Few: A Story of Courage in the Holocaust.” Commonwealth Club, 555 Post St., S.F. (415) 597-6705. Emerging Writers Festival Cortney Lamar Charleston and Patricia Park are featured. 7:45 p.m. Maraschi Room, Fromm Hall, USF. Chris Hayes, Clara Jeffery “A Colony in a Nation.” InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel, Peacock Court, 999 California St., S.F. (415) 597-6705. Julie Scelfo “The Women Who Made New York.” 6 p.m. Book Passage, One Ferry Building, S.F. (415) 835-1020. Emerging Writers Festival Mike Scalise, Vanessa Hua and Sam Sax are featured. 7:30 p.m. Xavier Hall, Fromm Hall, USF. Joan Frank “All the News I Need.” 7 p.m. Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera. Amy Poeppel “Small Admissions.” 6 p.m. Book Passage, One Ferry Building, S.F. (415) 835-1020. Tim Stroshane “Drought, Water Law, and the Origins of California’s Central Valley Project.” Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St., Berkeley. 7 p.m. Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera. Make Bigger Profits by Building a Better World. Commonwealth Club, 555 Post St., S.F. (415) 597-6705. 6 p.m. Book Passage, One Ferry Building, S.F. (415) 835-1020. Margaret Randall “Only the Road/Solo el Camino.” 7 p.m. The Poetry Center, Humanities Building, SFSU, 1600 Holloway Ave., S.F. (415) 338-2227. Ursula Werner “The Good at Heart.” Neil Gaiman “Norse Mythology.” San Mateo Performing Arts Center, 600 N. Delaware St., San Mateo. Ursula Werner “The Good at Heart.” 6 p.m. Book Passage, One Ferry Building, S.F. (415) 835-1020. 11 a.m. Diesel, 2419 Larkspur Landing Circle, Larkspur.

‘The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane,’ by Lisa See

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 23:33:29 UT

Lisa See’s latest novel, “The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane,” takes place in the fascinating world of pu’er tea, from the picking of tea leaves to the distribution of aged, fermented tea cakes in Southern California. In an early chilling scene, Li-yan’s mother, who is a midwife, orders a father to kill his twin boy and girl within minutes of their birth. The rest of the novel is strong, but sometimes feels off balance due to the different narrative techniques used to tell the mother and daughter’s diverging stories. See doesn’t always trust the reader’s ability to make the leap into an Akha girl’s mind, and pushes too hard to generate understanding. [...] Li-yan’s repeated use of the term “ethnic minority” to refer to herself feels forced, a shortcut to make sure the reader understands Li-yan’s outsider position among the Han majority, but one that doesn’t allow us to actually feel what are presumably feelings of alienation. [...] Haley’s story of mixed emotions is told with almost no framing via quotidian documents: doctor’s notes when she’s a sick baby, curated emails by her adoptive mother, a clearly autobiographical short story written by Haley in preparation for drafting a college essay. See breathes life into a hidden world to which many of her readers don’t have access, just as she’s done in “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,” “Shanghai Girls” and her many other Chinese historical novels. “Snow Flower,” for example, revealed 19th century Hunan Province, a world in which a secret script, nu shu, was developed for women, and where some young girls were paired with emotional matches that stayed with them through their lives. [...] the novel is an alluring escape, a satisfying and vivid fable that uses an Akha belief to tap into our own longings for coincidence.

Recommendations from Hicklebee’s

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 23:12:56 UT

Recommendations of recent books from the staffs of a rotating list of Bay Area independent bookstores. Proceeds from the book are being donated to charities supported by the march. Whole, Organic Ingredients and Delicious Meals From the Marley Kitchen, by Ziggy Marley: The easy directions will have you heading to the kitchen to try these recipes yourself. Table Manners, How to Behave in the Modern World and Why Bother, by Jeremiah Tower: The Refugees, by Viet Than Nguyen: A superb collection of short stories focused on the Vietnamese experience. Each story is a wonder, steeped in the moist heat of Vietnam or the strange atmosphere of the character’s adopted land. Gorgeously drawn with a steampunk feel, this middle-grade graphic novel, set in a country at war, tells the story of an adventurous newsboy (actually an orphaned girl) who becomes embroiled in intrigue.

Recommended reading, March 26

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 23:09:54 UT

Exit West Hamid’s fourth novel centers on two young people who fall in love in an unnamed city riven with sectarian conflict — then leave their homeland through a mysterious door. Drugs in the Third Reich By Norman Ohler; translated from the German by Shaun Whiteside Ohler’s revelatory book is that rare sort of work whose remarkable insight focuses on a subject that’s been overlooked, even disregarded by historians. The Evening Road Hunt’s lyrical novel tracks the journeys of two appealingly complicated women and is also grounded in history: the lynching in Indiana’s Grant County on Aug. 7, 1930, that inspired the poem “Strange Fruit.” The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane See’s latest novel is an alluring escape, a satisfying and vivid fable set in California and the mountains of the Yunnan province in China.

Burning Man ticket registration is open

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 23:08:58 UT

Bust out your sparkly spandex because 2017 Burning Man ticket registration is open.

Registration went online at noon Wednesday, and it closes 48 hours later on Friday, but it's just the first step in a complex ticket sale operation. Only those who make a profile and successfully register can purchase tickets when they go on sale next Wednesday.

‘A Train Through Time,’ by Elizabeth Farnsworth

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 21:53:02 UT

Farnsworth also produced a number of award-winning documentaries, including a full-length feature on Chilean Judge Juan Guzmán as he attempts to bring Pinochet to justice for human rights violations. The book opens in a dark editing room at Skywalker Ranch with Farnsworth and her colleagues scrambling to finish the Guzmán documentary in time for the San Francisco International Film Festival. In an exhausted daze, she watches a sequence in which the judge first finds human remains, the chilling evidence of human slaughter 30 years earlier. Having set the memoir in motion, Farnsworth sets out to answer her own question, fitting her memories together “like bones from an exhumation,” searching for the threads between her current life as a journalist and her younger self. The rest of the book toggles back and forth between scenes from the train ride — a new friend, a mysterious white horse — and scenes from Farnsworth’s life as a journalist reporting from various hot spots around the globe. Always there is death, and mystery: the “disappeared” in Chile; the death of a beloved handler in Iraq; the story of Thanh Pham, who lost his mother and grandmother as a child when his village in Vietnam was bombed by American soldiers and who is the subject of Farnsworth’s documentary “Thanh’s War.” While “A Train Through Time” is a moving and vivid account into what drove this accomplished journalist into the darkest corners of humanity, this is not a “tell-all.” [...] like all good memoirs, “A Train Through Time” offers the reader an opportunity to “ride along” with an intelligent and reflective narrator as she inventories her life and offers us an insider’s view of some of the most morally challenging moments in our country’s history.

Face-value Hamilton tickets are on sale right now

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 21:31:18 UT

"Hamilton" opens at the Orpheum Theater on Thursday, and a slough of face-value tickets have just appeared on SHN's website, ranging from $186 to $868. There are even a handful of tickets for this weekend.

Available seats appear to reside primarily in the pricier tiers. Orchestra tickets for this weekend cost $524, while later in the run, you can snag seats, often with partially obstructed views, for $186. Shelling out $868 will guarantee you a spot in the orchestra tier at most performances.

‘Insane Clown President’ and ‘Fever Swamp’

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 21:11:02 UT

Dispatches From the 2016 Circus, by Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi, and “Fever Swamp: A Journey Through the Strange Netherland of the 2016 Presidential Race,” by best-selling novelist Richard North Patterson. Each is scathing in its dissections of the candidates’ weaknesses and the inability of the Republican Party to find a way to stop Donald Trump, whom each author regarded as an existential threat to the party and to American democracy. On the same page of his Aug. 30 essay in which the author observed that Trump’s refusal to pivot from his hard line of playing to fear and mass anger “in all likelihood, would precipitate his defeat in November — killing off other Republicans in the bargain,” his margin note reads, It is still stunning to consider how completely Trump violated every paradigm for a successful candidate. Taibbi showed a similar touch of humility in early September when a CNN poll showing Trump in the lead over Clinton coincided with his Rolling Stone piece that suggested Trump was in a “freefall,” having “lost his mojo.” Patterson, a former trial lawyer and assistant attorney general for the state of Ohio, cites Watergate as a turning point, for better and for worse, in media coverage. While it underscored the importance of free and independent media, he writes, it also “created a template for ambitious reporters” — where uncovering scandal became the Holy Grail, with insufficient regard for its context or gravity. Carly Fiorina’s graphic description of videos showing Planned Parenthood’s callous treatment of fetuses, unsupported by the evidence, gave her a momentary surge in the polls. Taibbi also deplores the way media outlets have become so partisan: “The model going forward will likely involve Republican media covering Democratic corruption and Democratic media covering Republican corruption.” A Trump voter might well push aside Taibbi’s book before the first reference to their candidate, now president of the United States, being called “a con man” or a know-nothing who is “bloviating and farting his way” through the campaign “saying outrageous things, acting like Hitler one minute and Andrew Dice Clay the next.” “Insane Clown President” is a breezy read and will bring knowing chuckles among liberals who will savor its wickedly clever shots at all the jesters in the clown car who constituted the Republican primary field. These accounts of history in a hurry, while entertaining and surely maddening to those who either like or hate the ending, are handicapped by the knowledge that the full story of the 2016 election, especially the extent and manner of Russian meddling, is still unfolding. [...] it remains to be seen whether Trump’s election represents a profound turning point or a bizarre blip in American democracy.

A selection of first sentences from new books, March 26

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 20:57:15 UT

The man on the other end of Houston’s local suicide hotline said his name was Blain. “An Arrangement of Skin,” essays by Anna Journey The girls’ changing room smelled heavily of sweat, mud and a sickly-sweet deodorant that was beginning to irritate the back of her throat. “The Trophy Child,” a novel by Paula Daly My life as an American was not guaranteed. “Mustache Shenanigans: Making Super Troopers and Other Adventures in Comedy,” by Jay Chandrasekhar

Premieres by Way, Nelson in ODC/Downtown’s 46th season

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 20:40:24 UT

At the 46th annual ODC/Dance Downtown that opens Thursday, March 23, the two artistic directors, KT Nelson and dance company founder Brenda Way, will provide two new dances. The program will also include a reprise of Kate Weare’s “Giant,” Way’s “Walk Back the Cat” and a gala performance on Friday, March 24. Way’s new piece “What We Carry What We Keep,” looks at hoarding and was inspired by “The Keeper,” an art exhibit at the New Museum in New York, and the KonMari Method, a radical downsizing fad that originated in Japan. The experience “heightened my belief in collective compassion and the realization we are all in this together,” Nelson says. Sen. Kamala Harris is the honorary chair for Friday’s Women on the Move gala, which features excerpts by Way, Nelson, Weare and Kimi Okada.

New movies opening Friday, March 24

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 20:16:40 UT

American Anarchist: A documentary about William Powell, not the famous actor of “The Thin Man” but the then-19-year-old author of “The Anarchist Cookbook,” written in 1970 amid the counterculture movement. Bokeh: A young couple visiting Iceland wake up and find out that they are the only people left on Earth. Director and writer Dax Shepard also stars as Highway Patrol Officer Jon Baker and Michael Peña takes on the Frank (“Ponch”) Poncherello role in this remake of the television series. François Ozon directs this movie about a German woman after World War I who meets a mysterious Frenchman when he visits her fiance’s grave. Bird on a Wire: A documentary that follows the famous folk singer on a tour of Europe and Israel. Documentary about Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef, whose satirical humor has gotten him into trouble with the government. The film picks up 20 years after the original cult classic about drug-addicted guys in Scotland. Woody Harrelson plays the title role in this movie based on the graphic novel by Daniel Clowes.

Classic comedies with free beer at the Balboa on Saturday nights

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 20:16:11 UT

Classic comedies with free beer at the Balboa on Saturday nights The folks at the Balboa Theatre want you to spend Saturday nights watching fun classics out at the Richmond District treasure, and to prove it, the beer’s on them. Classic comedies new and old, from “Animal House” to “The Big Lebowski” to “Pineapple Express,” screen at 10 p.m. Saturdays at least through April 29. John Landis’ “Animal House” screens Saturday, March 25, and careful not to let this crafted pale ale go down the wrong pipe in one of the funniest movies of all time, a high point of the careers of John Belushi, Tim Matheson and Tom Hulce. Bird on a Wire: Unearthed in the lost-and-found pile in the wake of the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s death in November is this never-released 1974 documentary by Tony Palmer, the British filmmaker who, with Frank Zappa, co-wrote and co-directed “200 Motels.” Completely in the Present: Director Tyler Hubby presents his documentary about the composer, filmmaker, conceptual artist, media activist and radical mathematician, among other things, who died last year at 76.

Berkeley Rep announces 2017-18 season

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 19:29:05 UT

Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s 2017-18 season will include two world premieres, a West Coast premiere and “Angels in America,” the company announced Tuesday. Artistic director Tony Taccone, whose next season will mark his 20th at Berkeley Rep (leading up to a previously announced retirement in 2019), will direct the company’s October show, Daniel Handler’s “Imaginary Comforts, or The Story of the Ghost of the Dead Rabbit.” Developed in Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor program, this world premiere brings Handler’s sense of whimsy — he’s known for his Lemony Snicket children’s book series — to a play for adults. When he was artistic director of Eureka Theatre in the late 1980s, Taccone commissioned Tony Kushner’s lyrical, fantastical two-part epic, which tackles AIDS, gay life and politics; he also co-directed the show’s full world premiere in 1994. Associate director Lisa Peterson directs two shows next season, starting in November with Lillian Hellman’s “Watch on the Rhine,” a 1941 play about the United States’ decision to fight in World War II.

Out loud: Elif Batuman, author of ‘The Idiot’

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 18:16:17 UT

Adventures With Russian Books and the People Who Read Them (2010), was working on a book inspired by a Chekhov character who describes himself as having two distinct lives. Removed from that experience by a couple of decades, it occurred to her to consult the draft of a novel she wrote when she was 23 and living in San Francisco, having taken a year off from her graduate program at Stanford. “I was really embarrassed by that 18-year-old, and all the dumb stuff that she did, and there was this great effort that I took to distance myself — the writing self — from the person who I was writing about,” Batuman said. Propelled as much by the thrilling new horizons of interpersonal communication and the power of words to sculpt identity as by the prospect of real romance, Selin becomes enmeshed in a long-distance relationship. Because We Come From Everything: Andrew Seguin (“The Room in Which I Work”), Daniel Poppick (“The Police”), Kelli A. Noftle (“Adam Cannot Be Adam”), John Liles (“Follow the Dog Down”), Mary Hickman (“Rayfish”) and Donald Justice (“Compendium: A Collection of Thoughts on Prosody”) (7:30 p.m. Friday, Moe’s Books, 2476 Telegraph Ave., Free). Lives and Voices Not Heard, curated by Bonnie Kwong, features readings by Nghiep Lam and Eddy Zheng on the theme of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders’ experiences facing deportation, followed by a panel including a representative from the Asian Law Caucus (4 p.m. Sunday, Liminal, 3037 38th Ave, Oakland).

Toast to Tipple & Snack Vintage Cocktail Book Fair

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 17:37:27 UT

In its title alone, Charles H. Baker Jr.’s 1951 “The South American Gentleman’s Drinking Companion” promises to transport its readers to an exotic destination, one colorfully named alcoholic beverage at a time. Baker’s classic cocktail recipe book is just one of many that will be in conversation and on display Sunday, March 26, at the inaugural Tipple & Snack Vintage Cocktail Book Fair, hosted by Omnivore Books, a San Francisco-based bookseller that specializes in food- and drink-related titles, and Bar Agricole. The fair will showcase a mix of new and vintage cocktail books from the last century and will be the first of Omnivore Book’s new quarterly series on food literature.