Unpacking the Truth

Packer seeks to understand the world through his writing

0 Comments · Wednesday, June 10, 2009
The subtitle of the Mercantile Library's lecture series is "Writing to Change the World." Few people embody that sentiment better than George Packer. Currently a staff writer for The New Yorker, he's been doing exactly that in various books, essays and articles over the last two decades.  

A Brief History of the Future (Review)

Jacques Attali - Arcade Publishing

0 Comments · Wednesday, April 22, 2009
The good news about Jacques Attali’s latest literary work is that in painting a startling and timely picture of humanity’s downward spiral, the author does not mince words or cop to his own smarts — that’s no small feat for a world-renowned economist, one that is especially impressive considering his counterparts’ failure to deliver even the broadest short-term fiscal projections without confounding CNN viewers on a nightly basis.   

Ablutions: Notes For A Novel (Review)

Patrick Dewitt

1 Comment · Wednesday, April 22, 2009
The book jacket states Ablutions is Patrick deWitt’s first novel but it’s really, as the subtitle suggests, notes for a novel — notes made by a nameless fictional bartender working at a down-and-out Hollywood dive. Throughout, we’re introduced to a variety of characters who are patrons of the bar, such as Curtis — a disconsolate man with a law-enforcement fetish.  

Pictures at a Revolution (Review)

Mark Harris (Penguin)

0 Comments · Wednesday, April 1, 2009
The most historic Academy Awards ceremony might well be the one in 1968. The Oscars that year — for the best picture of 1967 — were, in their way, as revealing about the changes sweeping America as the Chicago Democratic Convention. The nominees were two radical takes on American culture, Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate, as well as Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night and Doctor Dolittle.  

The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death (Review)

Charlie Huston (Ballantine Books)

0 Comments · Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Charlie Huston’s latest work of fiction is sort of like Hardcore music and movies that feature martial artists: It reeks of “dude.” Like other would-be noir writers, Huston can’t negotiate the fine line between the genre’s trademark kitsch and overt, meathead drama. The book follows Web Goodhue — a snarky former schoolteacher haunted by a past that’s rendered him traumatized and unemployed.  

Food for Thought

David Kamp discusses his obsession with food culture

1 Comment · Wednesday, February 25, 2009
David Kamp is obsessed with food. His popular 2006 book, 'The United States of Arugula,' is the culmination of this obsession, investigating "how food in America got better and how it hopped the fence from the ghettos of home economics and snobby gourmandism to the expansive realm of popular culture."  

Coffee, Cokeheads and Demons

A look into the imaginative world of authorguy Christopher Moore

0 Comments · Wednesday, February 25, 2009
It's typically part of my evening routine to post up in my apartment and totally unplug from reality by delving into a world of drugs, sex, ninjas, vampires and man-eating demons. No, I'm not suggesting that eating psychedelic mushrooms is one of my nightly endeavors, but rather indulging in the imaginative world that authorguy Christopher Moore creates in his bizarre, hilarious and consistently original novels.   

Violin Man

Author Steve Lopez puts a human face on mental illness

0 Comments · Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Steve Lopez, a busy human-interest columnist for The Los Angeles Times, was walking back to his downtown office some years ago when he spotted a homeless man on a street corner who was dressed in rags and playing Beethoven on a battered violin. Lopez slowly got to know him and wrote a series of popular columns that turned into a book last year, 'The Soloist,' as well as a movie starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx that will be released in April.   

Gregory Corso: A Note After Blacking Out

A tribute to an often overlooked poet

3 Comments · Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Until his death in January of 2001, Gregory Corso was one of America’s greatest living poets, but sadly very few people knew it. And now that he’s passed into the Vast he clearly should be  

Money Where Their Mouth Is

'Milk Money' duo is dedicated to the written word

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Maija Zummo and Ian Wissman want you to think literature is cool. That's one of the reasons they started 'Milk Money,' a handmade literary magazine on the cusp of releasing its fourth issue, entitled 'Weird Workout.' "If you want to read something that's cool, pick up a literary magazine that's cool," Zummo says.  

Marching to a Different Beat

Beat poet Gregory Corso subject of a UC festival

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 14, 2009
The festival in tribute to poet Gregory Corso, often called "the Last Beat," will consider his work and legacy through an art exhibition, lecture, poetry reading, an evening of music and the film. The term "last," in regards to Corso, refers to the fact he outlived other Beat writers, notably Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac.  

The Best of Sexology (Review)

Craig Yoe, Editor (Running Press)

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Founded in 1933 by Hugo Gernsback, 'Sexology' is said to be the first sex-related magazine to achieve widespread (relatively speaking) circulation in the United States. Not familiar? You're not alone.  

The Dart League King (Review)

Keith Lee Morris (Tin House Book)

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Keith Lee Morris' second book takes place entirely at a championship darts match on a single night in Idaho in June of 2007. Surprisingly for such a narrowly focused work, it's as compelling a novel as I've read all year.  

Old Masters, New World (Review)

Cynthia Saltzman (Viking)

0 Comments · Tuesday, December 23, 2008
We go to our American art museums and dutifully pass the Old Masters' paintings, nonchalant about them being on display here rather than Italy, Spain, Germany, England, France, Netherlands or the other European countries where those great painters lived centuries ago.   

The Good Thief (Review)

Hannah Tinti (Random House)

0 Comments · Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Adolescent Ren has little at the start of the Good Thief: a stump in place of his hand, a first name but no last, a question mark in place of his past and an uncertain future. Orphaned as an infant, Ren's only family are the other lost boys at Saint Anthony's monastery.