Thursday, February 28, 2013

The spring issue of Catamaran is here. If you happen to be in Santa Cruz this Friday, I'm going to read something so new, I haven't written it yet.


The second issue of Catamaran Literary Reader is coming your way. Any moment now it should start showing up in indie bookstores across the nation and in several other countries, and start working its way into your mailbox. Even the erratic mailman who serves two of our most loyal readers in a certain suburban community in Los Angeles County should, eventually, deliver the magazine. Our magazines arrived today, on John Steinbeck's birthday, no less. To celebrate, we're throwing a big party at the Tannery Arts Center with some great surprises. The festivities start at 6 p.m. Friday, with live music until 7 p.m., readings from 7 to 8 (and, I would guess, perhaps a wee bit later than 8) and dance music until 9 p.m. This is your chance to meet the contributors to our second issue, and view original art from the magazine.

Here is how to get there.

If you go, you will hear from the following authors:

Jack Shoemaker, essay. (This is a rare opportunity to hear one of the most influential voices out there today. Read more about him right here.)

John Moir, essay. ( John Moir has written an excellent essay about an extremely famous author, mountaineer, and the first-ever president of the Sierra Club, whose name is almost identical to "John Moir." And no, the right answer is NOT David Brower.)

Patricia Smith, fiction

Dane Cervine, poetry

Peggy Townsend, fiction

Karen Joy Fowler, fiction

I'm reading a piece that I plan to start writing late Thursday evening (tonight) about the 40th anniversary of the publication of Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and Jim Houston's influential book, Farewell to Manzanar. I'll share a few thoughts about the book and my recent talk with Jeanne in Santa Cruz.

See you then, I hope.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A tragic day (week, month, year) in Santa Cruz, California -

Yesterday felt like a bad dream -- helicopters circling my neighborhood for hours, streets blocked off, and reports later on that two veteran police officers had been shot to death during a sexual assault investigation on the street that I run and drive on almost every day of the week. For hours we were getting reports that a shooter was still in the neighborhood -- and though the report turned out to be wrong, our household got quite a jolt when a door-to-door marketer, with an only-in-Santa-Cruz sense of timing, pounded on the door, hoping to sell stuff. (She was told to please go away and perhaps come back when there was not an active manhunt in progress.)  It was nerve-wracking to see constant updates and national news stories coming over the wire and have no idea if the situation was ongoing.  Later on, I was stunned to hear that one of the fallen officers was Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker, a true professional, and  my go-to guy every time I wrote about social issues downtown while working at the Santa Cruz Sentinel. He was one of the most visible members of the force -- an almost constant presence downtown. At one point I wrote  stories about panhandling and street musicians, and a set of downtown ordinances restricting where people could "spare change" (a verb out here in Santa Cruz.)  Sgt. Baker was always very informal and friendly, and more than willing to go about his rounds with a pesky reporter trailing after him, recording his every move. Those were the days when people seemed on edge in this town -- so much anxiety when the stakes were so much lower. I got a  small and slightly scary taste of what Sgt. Baker had to go through every single day when I "patrolled" downtown myself as part of my newspaper beat.  These days I can't help but feel a little nostalgic when panhandling ordinances seemed like our biggest concern in the city. Now it's 2013, and in the same few weeks we've had to deal with the shooting (not fatal) of a student at the bus stop I use almost every day, a fatal drive by shooting of someone right in front of an extremely popular college hangout called The Red Room, an alleged sexual assault on campus that heightened anxieties but turned out to be a false report, a robbery of the same organic food store where a disoriented guy tried half-heartedly to mug me while I was shopping some weeks back. And let's not forget the fatal stabbing of the owner of Camouflage less than a year ago in broad daylight.

Obviously there is no "upside" to all of this tragedy, but we can all take heart in the people who work hard to keep bystanders out of harms way, the grocery stores that closed early to make sure their employees got home safely, and the generosity and work ethic of so many people in this town. I'm talking about the same sense of responsibility that led Sgt. Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler out to that house on North Branciforte Avenue yesterday.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Cactus Eaters: reviews, stories, podcasts and links

Just in case you are new to this blog (and I seem to be getting new readers checking in every month), I've updated the page with the reviews, stories, podcasts, links and other info. Thank you for your continued support. Yes, I am working on new things, but I am am not a fast writer.  It took me all month just to write this blog post.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The new issue of Catamaran Literary Reader is coming to a bookstore near you

Or to your mailbox, imminently. Here's the brand-new cover by Belle Yang, acclaimed author of Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale, which is sitting right here beside my keyboard while I'm typing this. It's great to see the word is getting out -- internationally-- and how this magazine is bringing together all the various threads of my writing/editing life. For instance, a month or two ago, I got an email from a poet who lives in Vancouver. She read my "Man in the Shoebox" essay in a recent issue of Poets & Writers, which included my bio at the end. The story inspired her not only to buy a copy of The Cactus Eaters at her local bookstore, but to order a two-year subscription to Catamaran. Anyhow, I'm proud to be part of this acclaimed new start-up, and I hope you go out and get a copy of the latest magazine, which will be a heavy hitter.  Here's the line-up for our second issue:

Poetry from...Gary Snyder, Killarney Clary, Aleida Rodriguez, Judith Serin, Casandra Lopez, Dane Cervine, Judith Barrington, Anya Groner, Beatriz Vignoli, Linda McCarriston, Cassie Premo Steele, William J. Harris

Fiction from... Patricia Smith, Peggy Townsend, Deni Y. Bechard, Paul Skenazy, Liliana Heker, Elizabeth Crane, Chuck Rosenthal, Karen Joy Fowler

Nonfiction from...Jack Shoemaker, John Moir, Charles Hood, Eva Saulitis, Dan White with Jeanne Houston, Belle Yang

Visual art from...David Ligare, Sandra Ivany, Mari Kloeppel, Erika Perloff, Katie Cater, Dorothea Lange, Belle Yang, Charles Prentiss, Warren Chang, Linda Christensen, Noelle Correia, George Hitchcock 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sarah Silverman and me: HarperCollins Stranger than Fiction: 10 Great Memoirs ebook promotion featuring The Bedwetter, The Cactus Eaters, and Josh Kilmer-Purcell

Here's the latest bit of news.  Sarah Silverman and I  are part of the same e-book promotion at HarperPerennial called "Stranger Than Fiction," featuring a list of selected HarperCollins memoirs.  Anyways, this promotion, which is live now and ends on February 25, allows you to buy a spanking-new e-book version of Sarah Silverman's The Bedwetter, my first book, The Cactus Eaters: How I Lost my Mind and Almost Found Myself on the Pacific Crest Trail,  and other bestsellers, including I Am Not Myself These Days by Josh Kilmer-Purcell for  less than you would pay to buy a gingerbread soy latte at The Sour Cup or a bean burrito at Cafe Indigestion.   But you'd better buy  this very minute because the whole thing ends in just over a week.

Here is the complete list of participating authors:

The Girl Who Fell to Earth by Sophia Al-Maria
Fante by Dan Fante
Dishwasher by Pete Jordan
The Cactus Eaters by Dan White
I Am Not Myself These Days by Josh Kilmer-Purcell
How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
Everything is Going to be Great by Rachel Shukert
Everything is Wrong with Me by Jason Mulgrew
The Cactus Eaters by Dan White
The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman
Working Stiff by Grant Stoddard
The Cactus Eaters by Dan White

Wait -- I accidentally put my own book more than once in that list.  Darn it. I'll go back and correct that just as soon as I get the chance!!

By the way, this blog entry will self-destruct on February 26 as soon as this promotion ends.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Cactuseaters versus the Spam Robots: why I have comment moderation on this blog

I don't like having comment moderation on Cactuseaters.  It makes it difficult  and annoying for people to write in. Now, when someone attempts to comment on any blog post, a sequence of headache-inducing numbers comes up on the screen, along with scattered letters. The would-be commentator must sit there at his or her keyboard and  reproduce those numbers and case-sensitive letters perfectly to leave a comment on my blog. Trying to be responsive to your needs (all four of you people, who only write into this blog once every Hale-Bopp anyhow), I changed the comment settings in February, allowing any carbon-based life form to comment on my posts without my having to approve the content. It was all-comers, complete freedom for everyone. How easy. How convenient. What a nightmare.  You would not believe the garbage that flowed into my blog that week! I received a small avalanche of nonsensical, surly, whiny comments about the most innocent blog posts on Cactuseaters, along with tons of ads, spam attacks, queries from people trying to sell me stuff, and whack-a-doodle manifestos from people who should not be allowed to manifest anything. A lot of the "messages" were anonymous and seemed to be generated by a Spam robot. (see photo above.)  So it looks like I'll have to fall back on the author-approved message system for a while until this all blows over. Sorry about that. It will have to suffice until I think of a better system. Meanwhile, keep those comments coming. In moderation.