books

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Batcave to the Rescue

Posted By on Thu, Apr 16, 2020 at 10:41 AM

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Located in the basement of 100 Fourth St. in downtown Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square, the Batcave Comics & Toys shop is a haven for comic book and toy collectors and for nostalgic fans of vintage entertainment.

Currently brimming with retro comic-book issues, the shop is doing what it can for the community with a pledge to give 10,000 free comics to Santa Rosa and Sonoma County organizations serving children who are in need of activities during the shelter-in-place order.

The Batcave encourages any charity, hospital, school, group home, foster home or special-needs program or facility to contact them on Facebook or Instagram to arrange curbside pickup or contactless delivery.

Furthermore, the Batcave encourages anyone with an old stash of comics who wants to help the cause—or anyone who wants to donate to the effort in any way—to also get in touch. Read the shop’s full statement on their Facebook page.
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Friday, March 20, 2020

Surviving the 'Shelter-in-Place' Weekend

Posted By on Fri, Mar 20, 2020 at 1:55 PM

Locally-filmed comedy "Wine Country" is streaming on Netflix.
  • Locally-filmed comedy "Wine Country" is streaming on Netflix.

Sonoma, Marin and Napa County are all under 'Shelter-in-Place' orders due to the Coronavirus pandemic, keeping most of us at home for the first weekend in Spring. Here's a couple ways to spend the next two days from the comfort of your couch.

Access the Library from Home
All branches of the Sonoma County Library and Marin County Library are closed and programming at Napa County libraries is suspended due to health concerns.

If you can’t go to the library, you can bring the library to you. A quick trip to sonomalibrary.org, marinlibrary.org or countyofnapa.org will guide you to a collection of digital materials and online services that includes eBooks and audiobooks, digital magazines, streaming movies and TV, and online learning services that are all free with your library card.

Don’t have a library card yet? Apply for a card online and start using digital services immediately.

Streaming Movies Online
Now is not the best time to be out and about, though locals can see some of their favorite Sonoma and Napa County spots in several movies, some of which are available to watch online. For wine connoisseurs, two movies in particular are perfect to put on while pouring a glass of Cabernet.

On Netflix, the 2019 comedy Wine Country (pictured), starring "SNL" alums Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch and others, shows off Calistoga in style. On Amazon Prime, the 2008 feel-good true story of Napa Valley’s entry into the world of winemaking, Bottle Shock, features locations in both counties.

For fans of science fiction, action and horror, Marin is on the scene in two particularly great flicks. First, sign up for a free trial of horror movie streaming service Shudder to see John Carpenter’s The Fog, filmed entirely on location in Point Reyes and Inverness. Over on Amazon Prime, the surprisingly heartfelt 2018 Transformers spin-off Bumblebee rolls through locations such as the Marin Headlands.

Podcasts
If podcasts are still foreign to you, now is the perfect time to start listening to one of the millions of free online shows, and three North Bay podcasts demonstrate the breadth of content within the medium.

The Wine Country Women Podcast is an inspiring conversation show in which Michelle Mandro talks to ladies like winemaker Heidi Barrett and Charter Oak Winery proprietor Layla Fanucci.

Web series The Cult Show celebrates classic horror and sci-fi films with filmmaker guests and loads of fun at thecultshow.com.

Award-winning podcast Ear Hustle tells stories from inside San Quentin to reveal the nuanced life inside and the journey for those who must reintegrate to society once they are released.

Clean Your Room
There is much to learn about the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, but based on what is currently known, transmission occurs via respiratory droplets and coronavirus may remain on surfaces for hours or even days.

That means it’s time to not only wash your hands with soap, it’s time to start cleaning surfaces you may touch around the house. Don’t forget to use disinfectants on tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, remote controls, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks and anything that may come in contact with your hands.

For instructions on cleaning products and further preventative measures, visit cdc.gov/coronavirus.
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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

‘Directions to the Dumpster’ Chronicles Homeless Journey

Posted By on Wed, Mar 11, 2020 at 11:05 AM

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Edward Campagnola has a story to tell. Currently living as an unsheltered resident in Sonoma County, he spent the last five years writing his story, and last year he released his debut novel, Directions to the Dumpster.

Now available on Amazon.com, the book traces Campagnola’s journey in homelessness and his attempts to get out of it. It is also a story that aims to dispel preconceptions about homelessness and end the stigma associated with it through a campaign of awareness and compassion.

“I’ve been in a cave really for five years,” Campagnola says. “You’re lucky if you have a phone, you know what day it is. I would lose days if I didn’t have a phone, but having it is a security risk.”

This glimpse into Campagnola’s daily experience is one of the book’s many details that dissolves the reader’s veil of ignorance and exposes them to the reality of what unsheltered residents go through day to day.

The title of the book, Directions to the Dumpster, is a phrase Campagnola uses literally and figuratively. He argues that in a capitalist society, the homeless are seen as worthless, while they also are often given directions to the dumpster when they do reach out and ask for help.

“I originally titled the book Going to California, a la the Zep tune,” Campagnola says.

Originally from New Jersey, Campagnola traveled to New Orleans, Houston and Las Vegas after the death of his wife.

“I was soul-searching at the time,” he says.

At one point in his travels he suffered a violent, random attack on a California-bound Greyhound bus that left him with PTSD. When he arrived in Sonoma County, words began to pour out of him.

“It was unbelievable, and I don’t know if it was from the attack, but phrases just started flowing out of me,” Campagnola says.

Collecting those phrases in notebooks, Campagnola wrote his manuscript on a Sonoma County Library computer. He wrote the novel as a form of therapy, as a way to reconnect with his adult children and to give society a better understanding of homelessness in America.

Campagnola describes his book as a documentary-style narrative, detailing events as they occurred and letting the reader make their own personal connection.

“I did not bother to express what my feelings were,” he says. “Except for the moment when I talk about a handwritten letter from my wife that I lost—I was more distraught than any point in my life.”

Though Campagnola secured a publishing contract, the book is an entirely DIY experience, with Campagnola editing and promoting the book on his own. The road to publishing was a long one, but he’s ready to do it again.

“The book’s a cliffhanger,” Campagnola says. “I’ve already started writing the sequel. I decided the title will be Directions Home.”

‘Directions to the Dumpster’ is available online.
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Monday, May 20, 2013

Sonoma County Book Festival Launches a Kickstarter Campaign

Posted By on Mon, May 20, 2013 at 1:09 PM

It's official. Books are still rad. And the people who provide a venue for the authors and book-sellers that stilll believe in the power of the book are still rad. That's why the Sonoma County Book Festival received a Boho Award in 2011, and that's why it would be nice to keep the only major book festival in the county around for years to come. Like pretty much everyone else these days, they've turned to crowdfunding for help.

Today, the organizers announced the beginning of a $10,000 Kickstarter campaign to keep the festival running and fund an Executive Director to run the whole shabang, since its hard for volunteers to pull of something like this off. This year, the festival moves to Santa Rosa Junior College, instead of running through downtown Santa Rosa, like it has for the past 12 years each September.

From the Kickstarter page:

"The Sonoma County Book Festival has been celebrating books and authors and readers and our local community for the past 12 years each September, and it's been a glorious contribution to Sonoma County. What you may not know is that we've done it on a wing and a prayer. And at this juncture, our funds are low and our volunteers are tired. As the board of directors, we've had to ask ourselves, "Do we stop offering this incredible community celebration of books and literacy?" The answer came back as a loud, "Heck no!" The Festival and our community deserve more. In fact, we believe we can make the Festival even better for 2013."

For more information, here's the Kickstarter page.

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Neil Gaiman Coming To Santa Rosa; Tickets Selling Fast

Posted By on Thu, Apr 4, 2013 at 12:34 PM

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If you want to see Neil Gaiman in Santa Rosa on July 6, you'd better act fast. Tickets for his appearance at Santa Rosa High School went on sale yesterday, and even without much notice or advertising, they're already selling quickly.

In just one day, reports Vicki D'Armon from Copperfield's Books—sponsor of the event—roughly a quarter of the tickets are already gone. "I think I'll probably have them through next week," says D'Armon.

Gaiman is no stranger to local readers. I mean really—American Gods, Anansi Boys, Coraline? The Sandman? (To the uninitiated: Gaiman wrote a children's book. He called it The Graveyard Book. That about sums it up.)

He's also committed to his fans at a level that's pretty unusual for authors of his stature. After the reading and Q&A, D'Armon reports, "he says he'll stay until 4am to sign books."

$35 gets you into the event and a copy of Gaiman's newest, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. If you want to go with a friend and share the book, special $50 tickets allow two entries and one copy of the book.

While available, tickets are being sold at Copperfield's stores. You can also get them online here.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

The Silent History's Eli Horowitz Featured on Other People With Brad Listi

Posted By on Fri, Jan 11, 2013 at 5:05 PM

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Last fall, we covered the debut of The Silent History, an innovative, "new kind of novel" created by a team that includes former managing editor of McSweeney's (and part-time Forestville resident) Eli Horowitz and Russell Quinn, a talented software developer and designer who lives in Cazadero. A serialized digital storytelling project, designed specifically for the iPhone and iPad, that project has the potential to redefine storytelling as we know it. It's also addictive, well-written and entertaining.

Eli Horowitz was interviewed last week over at Other People With Brad Listi. This is one of my favorite literary podcasts. Hosted by Brad Listi, founder and publisher of The Nervous Breakdown, at its best, the show sheds insight into the creative process and lives of writers and editors who fall between the traditional margins of literature. The interview with Horowitz should be a good one!

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Best Books of 2012

Posted By on Wed, Jan 2, 2013 at 4:45 PM

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This week's issue features a list of the top-selling books at Copperfields Books for 2012. Spoiler alert: Fifty Shades of Grey, the erotica series by E.L. James written for those who want their S&M draped in a gossamer lens, takes the top spot. The rest of the trilogy lodges into the third and fourth spots.

Confession: I didn't read Fifty Shades of Grey, and don't plan on ever cracking its lightly illicit cover unless I'm somehow engaged in some sort of Guantanamo-styled book torture. I'm a bit like Josh Radnor's character in Liberal Arts when he berates Elizabeth Olsen for reading the entirety of the Twilight series "unironically": "With the many amazing books in the world, why would you read this?"

That said, here's a list of books that I loved in 2012. Mention these to me at a cocktail party and you'll certainly get a smile instead of a tongue-lashing.

1. A Working Theory of Love by Scott Hutchins

Hutchins' story of a man who struggles with intimacy after a divorce (and working on a project that involves his dead father's diaries and a computer) became one of my "can't put it down" books for 2012. It's always great to be surprised by a book's elegance and depth.

2. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Here is the one place I crossed paths with Sonoma County readers. Cheryl Strayed's memoir about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail as a way to exorcise ghost and demons was one of the best-written books of the year. Masterful, devastating and inspiring, all at once.

3. Violence Girl by Alice Bag

Bag is one of the L.A. punk originals. Her autobiography is raw, contagious and burning with feminist power. At the same time, the musician and artist doesn't glorify the end results of punk rock and its many casualties.

4. This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

It was a big year for the Dominican-American author. He won a MacArthur Genius grant, published an acclaimed collection of short stories, and made an appearance at Copperfields in Montgomery Village that included liberal use of the words "motherfucker" and "fuck" and "interlocuter." This collection is riveting and ragged; it captures the dilemma of masculinity and the failure inherent in the blind drive to "man up" even as the world around crumbles and decays.

5. The Danger of Proximal Alphabets by Kathleen Alcott

Alcott is a young writer, but you wouldn't know it from this gripping, beautifully written debut novel. The Petaluma native, who now lives in New York, writes with the confidence of someone who's been fine-tuning her work for a long while. The book is a fractured love story, a story that falls into lyricism more often that not, and one that flirts constantly with a sense of the tragic.

6. How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti

Warning: this book is not for everyone, and if you read it and hate it, please don't stop me in the street and berate me for recommending something to you that you hated. Some (like Gawker, which called her one of the 50 Least Important Writers of 2012) have labeled Heti's "novel" of artists living in modern-day Toronto as self-indulgent and navel-gazing. And it is! But Heti happens to have a navel that I find very interesting! I found this book to be brave and painful in the best possible way.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

The World Without You by Joshua Henkin

Posted By on Thu, Jul 12, 2012 at 1:27 PM

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The World Without You, the new novel by New York-based writer Joshua Henkin, opens with a big event. After 42 years of marriage and four children, upper-middle class New York couple Marilyn and David Frankel are separating. The separation will occur soon after the memorial for their son Leo, a journalist who was killed in Iraq one year previous. Marilyn hasn't been able to get over Leo's death, "Sometimes she feels like she could die, that she'd like to die, it would be better that way," Henkin writes in the prologue. While her husband drowns his sorrows in running, reading and classes on the proper way to cut vegetables, Marilyn channels her energy into writing anti-war op-eds with the fervor of someone fruitlessly trying to bring back the dead. But before the separation, the couple will host their three surviving children, plus various grandchildren and spouses, and their daughter-in law (Leo's wife) Thisbe who brings their three year-old grandchild Calder, at the family's vacation home in the Berkshires. The family is getting together, possibly for the last time as a unit, for Leo's one-year memorial, which happens to fall on 4th of July. It's an occasion that most of them approach with dread, especially Thisbe, who has a new boyfriend in Berkeley, and doesn't know how to break the news to her in-laws.

In a review on The Rumpus, Bezalel Stern called the novel, "that rare breed: the twenty-first century domestic novel," which is exactly right. By digging into the inner lives of all three daughters: the tempestous Noelle, now an Orthodox Jew living in Israel with her headstrong husband and four children, Clarissa—the eldest—whose life, at 39, has become consumed with trying to conceive a baby, and Lily, the middle daughter with unresolved anger issues towards just about everyone. The combination of characters is like a pressure keg about to burst with the combustible combination of family resentment and love; It's a tightrope act performed amongst the land mines brought about by the death of a beloved youngest child and brother. The character's are drawn with fine detail and empathy, and even the generally unlikable Noelle has her moments, enough to where I didn't end up hating her even when I wanted to. Just like in life, everything's complicated by the messy, complex, reality of being a human in a world where true human psychological binaries are nothing but a myth.

Joshua Henkin reads from The World Without You on Friday, July 13 at Book Passage. 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera. 1pm. Free. 415. 927.0960.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Announcing Our 2010 'Prompt Jive' Writing Contest!

Posted By on Tue, Oct 5, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Whip out those Pilot G-2s and Mead notebooks, folks, 'cause it's that time of year again. Yes, indeed, the Bohemian's annual Jive writing contest is upon us. Here's your chance to get published in the paper by just using your imaginative brain and employing a keen handle on the English language.

For this year’s writing contest, we ask you, the creatively-minded writer, to siphon inspiration from one, several or all of the four objects below. Where did they come from? Why are they important? Why has someone held onto them for so long?

In your story, the item can be shipped, thrown, drowned, eaten, buried, cooked, uploaded, smuggled, smashed, or simply sitting on the mantle. We’ll be looking for creative ways the object is interwoven into your story, from the subtle to the overt.

Send us your 500-words-or-less piece of fiction to us at: javajive@bohemian.com. We’ll pick five of our favorites for publication in our Oct. 20 Fall Lit issue and throw a writers' party afterward at Cafe Azul in downtown Santa Rosa on Oct. 20 at 5:30pm. Deadline for submissions is Friday, Oct. 15, at 5pm.

The objects of your inspiration are pictured below.The Girl:

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The Bottle:

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The Rope:

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The Hand:

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Have at it, and best of luck to all!

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bloomsday Contest

Posted By on Tue, Jun 15, 2010 at 4:00 AM

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To true Lit Nerd Geeks, Wednesday, June 16, is no ordinary day. Rather, it's Bloomsday, named for that warm 1904 Thursday during which Leopold Bloom wandered the city of  Dublin, Ireland, and—not incidentally—explicated the entire history of Western literature while wooing wife-to-be Molly Barnacle and just generally standing in for the ancient hero Odysseus.

If you've read James Joyce's 1922 masterpiece Ulysses, you yourself embarked on a mythic journey. Most find it impossible to understand the novel without some help; I couldn't have finished a page without a nearby professor. But having emerged triumphant at the book's close, one feels a lifetime affinity to this modernist classic. Not only is this 18-part story Leopold's/Odysseus' achievement, it is one's own.

And so, when our weekly publication date this year fell on Bloomsday, we fell upon the opportunity. From the Letters to the folios (where the dates are on the bottom of each page) to a pull quote, a caption, several calendar and dining capsules, sky box text, the movie page and more than one classified ad, our June 16, 2010 issue is studded with text taken straight from Ulysses. Eighteen pieces of text, in fact. Naturally, we need to host a contest.To wit: Those three readers who can name the most (we'd be in Lit Nerd Geek Heaven if someone gets all 18 but aren't counting on it) citations sneaked into this issue will win a Toad in the Hole Pub gift card. (Yes, we know that the Toad is an English pub and that Dubliners were steeped in The Troubles with England for centuries, but it's what we've got.)  Contact us either through Facebook or via email: editor@bohemian.com by Wednesday, June 30, to win.

While compiling our small fun for this week's issue, we stumbled upon a more sustained bit of fun, Ulysses Seen, a complete graphic novel depiction of Joyce's masterpiece that is amazingly meta, allowing for critical citations and reader discussion forums as well as links to such YouTube pleasures as the sound of an actual Latin mass (which words begin the first chapter), so that readers get an even deeper understanding of the tome. If only this had been around when we were in grad school! This week, Apple approved Ulysses Seen as a new app for the iPad, which might make acing this contest that much easier.

Thanks to copyeditor Gary Brandt, a Joyce fanatic if ever there was one (he even has the last word of Finnegan's Wake tattooed on his ankle) who chose the excerpts and directed the placement. His love for Ulysses more than forgives his strange yen for prog rock.

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