Read Local: An Army of Lovers Captures the Struggles of Poetry

Categories: Read Local

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New York City might be home to the big houses, but this scrappy city just happens to be the epicenter of publishing on the Best Coast. Join Alexis Coe for Read Local, a series on books produced in the Bay Area. This month's installment guest-written by Evan Karp.

"The San Francisco Bay Area can boast of having both many great poets and many mediocre poets." Thus begins the unusual collaboration between poets Juliana Spahr and David Buuck, An Army of Lovers, which vaguely resembles both a novel and a lyrical meditation on the nature of art and civic responsibility.

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Read Local: It's Hail, You F***ing Moron

Categories: Read Local

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New York City might be home to the big houses, but this scrappy city just happens to be the epicenter of publishing on the Best Coast. Join Alexis Coe for Read Local, a series on books produced in the Bay Area.

A week after I moved to New York, small pellets of ice began to fall from the giant, dark clouds above. I had just graduated from college in California, where I spent weekdays studying on a beach and weekends working on a vineyard. Inclement weather was not a prevalent concern.

"It's hail, you fucking moron," a passerby screamed in my face, recognizing a teachable moment.


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Read Local: A Compendium of Collective Nouns

Categories: Read Local

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New York City might be home to the big houses, but this scrappy city just happens to be the epicenter of publishing on the Best Coast. Join Alexis Coe for Read Local, a series on books produced in the Bay Area.

In 2011, Chronicle Books released A Zeal of Zebras: An Alphabet of Collective Nouns, and they revisit the subject in this month's A Compendium of Collective Nouns. Both titles were produced by Woop Studios, and Jay Sacher, who wrote the text.

In the foreword, Woop Studios talks about their obsession with collective nouns, but this is not an uncommon fixation. (More uncommon: The London-based Woop Studios notes the book was born during a gathering around "an old wooden kitchen table in our house in France.")

See also:
Victoria Chang's The Boss
Omnivore Books' Celia Sack

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Read Local: Victoria Chang's The Boss

Categories: Read Local

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New York City might be home to the big houses, but this scrappy city just happens to be the epicenter of publishing on the Best Coast. Join Alexis Coe for Read Local, a series on books produced in the Bay Area.

The Boss
By Victoria Chang
(McSweeney's; 64 pages; $20.00)

Can poetry be found among the rows of cubicles crammed into cold, grey offices, one floor stacked upon another? Would it be safe? Could it be trusted?

In The Boss, poet Victoria Chang's unpunctuated lines speak to one of life's immediate, reoccurring preoccupations: our livelihood, and the one who wields complete power over it. After all, many of us spend more time at work than with our family, and yet that ever present source of anxiety is rarely what we seek out in poetry.

See also:
Finally, The Collected Poems of Philip Lamantia
"Beach Reads" for a San Francisco Fall


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Read Local: Omnivore Book's Celia Sack

Categories: Read Local

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New York City might be home to the big houses, but this scrappy city just happens to be the epicenter of publishing on the Best Coast. Join Alexis Coe for Read Local, a series on books produced in the Bay Area.

Celia Sack's Omnivore Books is a favorite of locals and tourists alike. Inside the culinary bookstore, new, glossy hardcovers lay near fading collectibles. Sack is usually on hand to recommend titles, although she's just as happy to talk restaurants, CSAs, and farmer's markets. Her personal touch is everywhere; offerings include rare books from her own collection and eggs from her neighbor in Tomales Bay.

Sack was kind enough to talk to us about bookselling in Noe Valley, and what to look forward to this fall.

When I moved to Noe last year, I assumed that Omnivore Books was a longstanding institution, but you actually opened in 2008.

Yes indeed. I've owned Noe Valley Pet Company next door with my partner Paula since 1998, but was a rare book specialist for many years prior to that. When this space became available, I took it over and decided to get back into bookselling.

See also:
"Beach Reads" For a San Francisco Summer
Peter Orner's Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge


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Read Local: "Beach Reads" for a San Francisco Fall

Categories: Read Local

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New York City might be home to the big houses, but this scrappy city just happens to be the epicenter of publishing on the Best Coast. Join Alexis Coe for Read Local, a series on books produced in the Bay Area.

As Septembers nears, the milky, billowing fog thins out, and something funny happens to people in San Francisco: we feel warm.

This is why, despite posting book reviews all summer, I have yet to compose a list of "beach reads." Well, perhaps my aversion to the term also played a role. As I learned in May, I'm quite comfortable reading something like The Fault in Our Stars on beach in Mexico and publicly sniveling into a towel. The summer before that, I read Proust's The Lemoine Affair while camping in Yellowstone's backcountry.

A good book is a good book, and people should read whatever they want, whenever and wherever they want.

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Read Local: Peter Orner's "Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge"

Categories: Read Local

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New York City might be home to the big houses, but this scrappy city just happens to be the epicenter of publishing on the Best Coast. Join Alexis Coe every other Wednesday for Read Local, a series on books produced in the Bay Area.

You should read Peter Orner's new story collection, Pulitzer Prize winning author Adam Johnson told me. A few weeks later, my friend and former SF Weekly editor, Anna Pulley, said the same thing.

I didn't need to be told a third time, but I would be, because Peter Orner is a revered, quiet figure among the San Francisco literati. He's received the important accolades, like the Guggenheim and Pushcart Prizes, and glowing reviews from the most esteemed outlets, including the New York Times, and yet his name will be unfamiliar to many readers.

See also:
The Booksmith's Buyer Tells All
How Not to Be a Dick

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Read Local: How Not to Be a Dick

Categories: Read Local

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New York City might be home to the big houses, but this scrappy city just happens to be the epicenter of publishing on the Best Coast. Join Alexis Coe every other Wednesday for Read Local, a series on books produced in the Bay Area.

A couple of weeks ago, I made a faux pas. At a wedding, no less. And the kicker is, I didn't even realize it.

The scene of the crime was a hipster venue in Brooklyn. The room was filled with lovely people I hadn't seen in a couple of years, and the rest were simply magical New England characters in blazers and brightly colored pants.

This is where I state my defense: I was distracted.

My offense? I didn't take a single picture on my Smartphone, thus precluding post-nuptial uploads to Facebook.

See also:
Chronicle Books Guaranteed to Please Everyone
The Booksmith's Buyer Tells All

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Read Local: The Booksmith's Buyer Tells All

Categories: Read Local

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New York City might be home to the big houses, but this scrappy city just happens to be the epicenter of publishing on the Best Coast. Join Alexis Coe every other Wednesday for Read Local, a series on books produced in the Bay Area.

Reinventions rarely work, let alone improve on the original idea, but 33-year-old The Booksmith beat the odds. After changing hands in 2007, the Haight Street independent bookstore received a full makeover. It is arguably the most attractive store on the street, but as always, the inside is what matters. Their book selection is plentiful, and manages to be both discerning and inclusive, which made me wonder about the mysterious buyer stocking the shelves.

Camden Avery, the store's buyer, was kind of enough to indulge me.

See also:
Lost Sloth and Other Wild Ones
Finally, the Collected Poems of Philip Lamantia

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Read Local: A Sloth and Other Wild Ones

Categories: Read Local

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New York City might be home to the big houses, but this scrappy city just happens to be the epicenter of publishing on the Best Coast. Join Alexis Coe every other Wednesday for Read Local, a series on books produced in the Bay Area.

This summer, two Bay Area writers take on endangered animals in very different ways. Jon Mooallem brings us Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America, while J. Otto Seibold's Lost Sloth is a children's book about an endangered animal interacting with people.

See also:
Finally, The Collected Poems of Philip Lamantia
The New Persian Kitchen

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