In the interests of full disclosure, I should tell you up front that while I’ve been an editor for a decade and a writer for as long as I can remember, I don’t like to read. I like to write and flip through magazines and watch television, but books have never quite captured me. I like the idea of books, though. I like the idea of being a prolific reader. From a style standpoint, I am in love with the idea of having a library á la Karl Lagerfeld.
I hope you won't let my confessions darken the spotlight I’m about to put on the Litography Project, which will endeavor to map San Francisco’s rich literary history and scene with multimedia storytelling. Just because I don’t like to read doesn’t mean I’m opposed to being schooled on the value of books. I’m voyeuristic by nature, so the promise of touring SF neighborhoods with local authors is exciting to me. As a writer, hearing about how these legends channel their surroundings into their craft sounds like a titillating anthropological expedition. And as far as this series of love letters to local bookstores goes, I have a dusty one in my neighborhood that I wouldn’t mind showering with a little affection, mostly because I’ve spent hours roaming its stacks, but never buying anything (see previous paragraph). The Litography Project’s Kickstarter campaign has still got 10 days to go, and has already surpassed its $19,000 goal.
Not to be overshadowed, the San Francisco Chronicle has come out with its own literary map called “The Literary City," which looks a little dated—well, as “dated" as geo-cacheing can be. Under the “Places” tab, you can click on such destinations as John Steinbeck’s Home (16250 Greenwood Lane, Monte Sereno), and a little window pops up to tell you that in this cottage, the writer finished Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath. Under the “Passages” heading, you can click on a book title (say, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan) and get a passage that references a specific local spot (“We lived on Waverly Place, in a warm, clean, two-bedroom flat that sat above a small Chinese bakery specializing in steamed pastries and dim sum.”) The entertainment hours you can log on this site are potentially endless.