Monday, April 7, 2008 7pm Wendy Merrill, Author of Falling into Manholes Book Passage || 51 Tamal Vista Dr., Corte Madera For Info: See Book Passage or 415-927-0960 Meet Wendy Merrill, a quirky, attractive, in-recovery-from…well, you can pretty much name it…who, while seemingly on the quest for her perfect mate, keeps falling into manholes. After losing herself in an endless series of attachments, this serial mater comes to see how her relationships with men are indicative of all her relationships – with alcohol, food, drugs, family, friends, and most of all, herself. Smart, funny and embarrassingly honest, the tales in Falling Into Manholes recount the common experience of looking for love in all the wrong places, and the not-so-common experience of finding it in yourself – and it feels like talking with your best friend. Wendy represents the bad girl/good girl paradox deep within every woman, and writes what women often think, but don’t have the nerve to say. Her favorite books growing up were Little House on the Prairie and The Happy Hooker, and even then she fantasized about a scenario in which Xaviera Hollander lived happily ever after with Laura, Ma and Pa. Wendy was the tall, scrawny late bloomer on the sidelines of the seventh-grade dance who turned into the sweet-sixteen-never-been-kissed good girl yearning to be bad. PhD’s were the norm in her family, yet she aspired to be comfortable on any barstool in the world. In college, she took a class called “Dating and Marriage” – and got an F. “I always aspired to an A+,” she says. “I just didn’t think it would end up being my bra size.” With honesty, humor and style, Falling Into Manholes explores the contradictions and imperfections of being a woman, in a book about relationships, addiction, self-esteem (and the lack thereof), and going to any lengths to discover what matters. This menmoir gives the reader what we all need more of: a good laugh, an easy read, and hope. Wendy owns and runs an advertising agency called WAM Marketing Group and lives above ground and beyond her means in Sausalito.
Monday, March 3, 2008 Karen Templer, Editor in Chief and Doug Cruickshank, Features Editor of Readerville online Editor in Chief, Karen Templer, and Features Editor, Douglas Cruickshank will talk about Readerville, the content and the community. In the nearly 8 years since Readerville first appeared online, it has taken many forms. It was first a place where readers and writers and publishing insiders could meet each day to find out what’s interesting in the world of books. In 2001 a full-fledged online bookstore was added and Readerville began publishing content. In 2002 the bookstore went away and a print magazine was launched, called The Readerville Journal. The Readerville Journal ceased publication in 2003, but the website survived and continues to be the wacky and thought-provoking community it started out as.
Monday, May 5, 2008 Kemble Scott, Author of SoMa Kemble Scott is the author of the bestselling novel SoMa. A longtime journalist before turning to fiction, Kemble has three Emmy awards for his work in television news. He also helps run San Francisco’s literary festival Litquake, and he’s the editor of the monthly e-zine SoMa Literary Review and the weekly email blast SF Bay Area Literary Arts Newsletter. SoMa tells the interwoven stories of young people of the tech-driven “millennials” generation on a journey of thrills and self-discovery in San Francisco’s notorious South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood. The novel is based on the true tales of the city. Publishers Weekly describes SoMa as “a fun, frisky novel of shock horror.”
Monday, February 4, 2008 Jane Juska, Author of A Round Heeled Woman and Unaccompanied Women Born in 1933, Jane Juska is an old person but a new writer. Her first book, A Round-Heeled Woman, was published in 2003, followed in 2006 by Unaccompanied Women. Before that, she taught English for forty years in high school, college, and prison. Her work has appeared in magazines and anthologies. She is working on a novel. She lives in Berkeley, California. “Round-heeled” is an old-fashioned label for a woman who is promiscuous—someone who nowadays might be called “easy.” It’s a surprising way for an English teacher with a passion for Trollope to describe herself in the title of the memoir which followed after she placed a personal ad in the New York Review of Books: “Before I turn 67—next March—I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me.” The ad worked, a book came out of experience (A Round-Heeled Woman) and Juska was reborn. Unaccompanied Women is about women Juska met on her book-tour; it is about what happened in her own life; it is about trying to find a home. Her adventures continue.
© 2007 by Joanna Biggar They called us the ‘Thelma and Louise’ of journalism. But when we first set out in 1993, doing America for our Washington-based wire service, we weren’t quite up to the part. Though she took to calling me Thelma and I took to calling her Louise, we were really just plain Ann and plain Joanna, unarmed, harmless and quite unlikely to kill. That was then. Soon enough we were ready to kill— each other. It wasn’t just that I am tall but she is taller, that I was on my way to becoming bi-coastal, while she was already seriously bi-polar (as likely to be found in the North or South Pole as North or South Carolina). And it wasn’t just that her sporty little red Acura said “Forty and divorced” while my beaten-up red wagon said, “Divorced with kids.” It wasn’t even, strictly speaking, that she is a Carolina mountain girl who believes the basic food groups are caffeine, nicotine and bourbon and that driving into dawn is fun, while I am your basic Californian, believing in beaches, wine, a.m. beauty rest and that a bare-bones room includes a spa. What nearly drove us to homicide was that she is a photographer, chasing the light, and I am a writer, chasing the word. There were many lessons to be learned. They flattened us so often, we came to call them roadkill. Then the definition expanded. It grew to mean not only what we found, but what we did, what we ate, what we became – and on bad days, what we looked like. Roadkill is a disorienting concept. Sometimes it encompasses the simple need for geographic realignment, such as when we looked up to see we were at the corner of Baghdad and Grapefruit, moving right along toward the intersection of Deglet Noor and Bliss. Our impulse was to cry out: “Where the hell IS this, and what are DOING here?” The answer to the first part — the reality check — we could get from a quick glance at the map. The second, but tougher, question, had an unfailing answer. We were doing what we were always doing, getting the story. That simple act frequently required major effort just to avoid going astray. Because of time and budget constraints, we often practiced what Ann dubbed “drive-by shooting,” praying that light and necessary interviews would magically line up like a perfect page layout so we could get in and out of one place and on to the next. But for the most part, not going astray meant in the most basic way doing whatever it took to get to the story. Hence we trashed cars by driving them into the mud and sand, turning interiors into the middle-aged equivalent of a girls’ dorm. We also hitched rides — in pick-ups, rowboats, an ill-fated tuna trawler, and a canoe that carried us through a reptile-infested swamp. Once, pursuing wild horses across the open plains, we rode stylishly in the back of a flatbed truck outfitted with plush leather seats lifted from a Cadillac. Sometimes, driving through America’s potholes, with the wind and the weather, or the strange yellow light of a tornado on the horizon, Rush on the radio, Ann smoking furiously and me Coughing with Meaning, we got down to bedrock soul-searching. Like the timeless question from that old Ladies Home Journal column: “Can this marriage be saved?” Meaning, of course, beyond the California Yankee and Carolina Belle trying out friendship, the working marriage between writer and photographer trying to create the story. In both instances, the answer was already a given. It was, even on that very first trip down the California coast, when we were about to trash our very first car loaded with essentials: my stuff — old blue suitcase, road maps, sunscreen, towels, notebooks, laptop; her stuff — duffel bag, one black cosmetic kit including hair conditioner that promises to make your hair carry on even if your brain goes dead, contact lenses, a bunch of cameras, and about 350,038 rolls of film, though I may have miscounted. (I should have gotten the hint when I visited her Capitol Hill apartment once, and she offered me a refreshment, then opened the fridge to the appalling sight of a bottle of bourbon and about 1 millions rolls of film). But it was in my car that she started in with these annoying questions, such as: what were the tires like and did I have gas and had I had the oil changed in the last hundred years? Then she said in her kind of off-hand way, “Oh, hell, darlin’, I’m sure you’ve got it all together. Even the emergency tools.” “You mean like this?” I said, pulling out the corkscrew I always keep on the driver’s side just in case. Then I hit the accelerator, lurching off to find stories for America’ s senior citizens. And she hit the country music station, pronouncing for the first time in our recorded history: “OK, kiddo, we can do this. ” Joanna Biggar lives in Oakland and is a teacher, writer, and traveler whose special places of the heart include the California coast and the South of France. A professional writer for more than 25 years, her poetry, fiction, personal essays, feature, news and travel articles have appeared in hundreds of publications.