Sad news – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

April 17th, 2014





Gabriel Garcia Marquez has died at age 87 at his home in Mexico City.  The Nobel Prize-winning author of One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera was a native of Colombia.    The novelist, short-story writer, journalist and screenwriter was credited with popularizing “magical realism”.

Read more here from the NY Times.

Pulitzer Prize Winners for Books, Drama, Music

April 15th, 2014

 Here are the names of the winners of the Pulitzer Prizes for Books, Drama, and Music, awarded yesterday:






The Goldfinch

Finalists Philipp Meyer, “The Son”; Bob Shacochis, “The Woman Who Lost Her Soul.”






The Flick

Finalists Madeleine George, “The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence”; Lisa Kron, book and lyrics, Jeanine Tesori, music, “Fun Home.”






The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832

Finalists Jacqueline Jones, “A Dreadful Deceit: The Myth of Race From the Colonial Era to Obama’s America”; Eric Schlosser, “Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident and the Illusion of Safety.”0









Margaret Fuller: A New American Life

Finalists Leo Damrosch, “Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World”; Jonathan Sperber, “Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life.”











Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation

Finalists Gary J. Bass, “The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger and a Forgotten Genocide”; Fred Kaplan, “The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War.”










3 Sections

Finalists Morri Creech, “The Sleep of Reason”; Adrian Matejka, “The Big Smoke”





Become Ocean,” by John Luther Adams

Finalists  “The Gospel According to the Other Mary,” by John Adams;  “Invisible Cities,” by Christopher Cerrone

Frog Music – A new novel based on a true San Francisco murder mystery

April 14th, 2014


If you’re looking for a book you won’t want to put down, try Emma Donoghue’s new book, Frog Music, which is based on a true, unsolved San Francisco mystery. Set in the sweltering summer of 1876, amid the panic of the smallpox epidemic, and the rising anti-Chinese sentiments of the time, the novel features the murder of a young, cross-dressing woman, Jenny Bonnet. Having recently befriended local dancer and prostitute, Blanche Beunon, the two women are staying in a tavern in San Miguel Station, south of San Francisco (now part of San Francisco’s OMI neighborhood), when shots blaze through the window of their room, killing Jenny.

Donoghue explores the underside of San Francisco’s boomtown, including the farming-out of babies, opium dens, gambling, the San Francisco Industrial School that housed juvenile criminals as well as mischief makers; fancy houses of entertainment in which a gentleman, or a miner with dirt under his nails, and a bag of gold, can buy a variety of personal services for high prices; as well as the Chinatown cribs in which girls can be had for pennies.

As the story unfolds, and new twists and turns are slowly revealed, Jenny’s and Blanche’s characters are shown to be more complicated, and perhaps less scrupulous than initially represented. However, the reader’s sympathies remain with the two women.


National Poetry Month at the Library

April 11th, 2014




California Dreaming: poems from California poets selected by Library staff.

Join us for an exhibition of poems by California poets, lining the atrium on the third floor of the Main Library. The 15 poems were selected by Library staff and represent some of our favorite poetry. The poets are both well-known (Alejandro Murguia and Al Young) and new to the scene (Stewart Shaw and Monica Xu).

Make your next trip to the Library a literary one with these wonderful poets. We’re sure you will find something to love in this exhibit.

The exhibit will be up from April 1, 2013 (National Poetry Month) to June 30, 2014.

Throughout the month of April the San Francisco Public Library celebrates National Poetry Month with many exciting programs that emphasize the importance of poetry in American culture.

National Recordings Registry adds new recordings

April 3rd, 2014

From the Library of Congress blog: 

The Librarian of Congress and the National Recording Preservation Board have released this year’s choices for the prestigious national Recording Registry – and as always, it’s a veritable sonic smorgasbord of terrific stuff, from many genres.  The selections are made to ensure the preservation for posterity of sound recordings with cultural, artistic or historical merit.










George Washington Johnson, recording

Some highlights:

  • The haunting Jeff Buckley version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Buckley’s 1994 take is remarkable; the song itself has gone around the world several times, sung by its author, by John Cale, even by contestants on American Idol. Like many songs written by Cohen, it has arresting lyrics (“It goes like this – the fourth, the fifth – the minor fall, the major lift…”)  Another verse notes, “All I ever learned from love was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you.”


  • “The Laughing Song” by George Washington Johnson, who in addition to having an infectious laugh that made his recording into a nationwide bestseller was a key figure in recording history as the first African-American recording artist (you can hear this song, recorded in 1903, on the Library’s National Jukebox website.)

 Art Blakey’s 1954 jazz album, “A Night at Birdland.”









Vol. 1 of Art Blakey’s “Night at Birdland”


  • Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1969 song “Fortunate Son.”

For a full listing and description of the 25 recordings and information about the artists, see here.



April 2nd, 2014

imagesCAWAEYFL 徒步中國 Tu bu Zhongguo / [] 雷克Christoph Rehage 2013.

德國青年雷克(本名 Christoph Rehage),曾是北京電影學院的外國交換生,中文極好。一日突發奇想,要徒步從北京走到德國與在德國留學的中國女朋友見面。於是,從20072008年,由北京徒步走到了新疆烏魯木齊,全程4646公里。這並不是一本遊記,而是一個外國青年與讀者分享他在中國徒步過程的所見所聞所言所想,而貫穿全書的則是他與在德國留學的女朋友小象之間若即若離的戀愛關係。事實上,也正是小象決定跟雷克分手宣告了雷克徒步中國的結束。








Congrats to Green Apple Books!

April 1st, 2014

Just learned from my neighboring blog –  Friends of the Library - that Green Apple Books on Clement Street is  Publisher’s Weekly bookstore of the year!  Congratulations to my old neighbor and hangout since the 1980′s.

Great Opening Lines

April 1st, 2014

Ten great opening lines in literature, here, from the Irish Times.

Here’s another I came upon recently:


Good lord bird


“I was born a colored man and don’t you forget it. But I lived as a colored woman for seventeen years.”  

  The Good Lord Bird by James McBride             (A wonderful book - Read it!)



Do you have any favorites?  Send them ….

World Book Night

March 19th, 2014

World Book Night is held on April 23, when 25,000 volunteers across America give a total of half a million books to those who don’t read regularly.

Read about it here:    WBNhome

National Book Critics Circle Award Winners announced

March 14th, 2014

Nominated and voted on by newspaper and magazine critics across the country who are members of the Critics Circle.  Thirty books published in 2013 were nominated in January, and award winners were announced last night in New York:

Recipients of the National Book Critic Circle Awards for 2014








Frank Bidart, “Metaphysical Dog” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)


Franco Moretti, “Distant Reading” (Verso)








Amy Wilentz, “Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter From Haiti” (Simon & Schuster)








Leo Damrosch, “Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World” (Yale University Press)







Sheri Fink, “Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital” (Crown)








Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “Americanah” (Knopf)


In addition, Anthony Marra’s novel A Constellation of Vital Phenomena was the debut recipient of the John Leornard Prize, established in 2013 to recognize an outstanding first book in any genre.

Recipient of the 2013 Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing was Katherine Powers.

Recipient of the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award was Rolando Hinojosa-Smith