We here at 7x7 found ourselves so inspired by The Exquisite Book: 100 Artists Play a Collaborative Game (Chronicle Books), that we decided to continue the game online. Starting Dec. 1, we'll post a drawing from the book done by a local artist—one each Wednesday. Get your pens and paints ready because we're asking you to "respond" to each drawing with your own creation. Every week, we'll pick our favorite drawing and give the contributor $150 in local gift certificates. Then, at the end of December, we'll choose the best from the weekly winners.
After reporting on the publishing experiments turning up around San Francisco, we asked the city’s writers what they’re reading these days, and they were happy to share. Look for Required Reading every week.
Sasha Wizansky is a founding editor of Meatpaper, the print quarterly about all things meat and carnivorous culture. She is author of Your New Glass Eye.
Magazines: I've always been interested in periodicals, especially the quirky and independent ones, and it seems my subscription list keeps growing: Cabinet, Esopus, Bidoun, Gastronomica, Print, Diner Journal, The Believer, McSweeney's, and The New Yorker. My life would be pretty different if the New Yorker ceased to exist. An ideal rainy day activity is curling up on the couch with a pile of print, which, it turns out, is nowhere near dead.
Novels: I haven't really caught on to micro-blogging or other short-form communication, and too much onscreen reading makes me dizzy. A good chunky novel still has the power to seduce me, especially when it spins an old-fashioned yarn. I keep up with Jonathan Lethem's novels for his vivid and offbeat storytelling. I loved the characters and slippery satire of Chronic City.
“My life’s greatest sorrow stems from my inability to feel close to other women.” This is the first sentence from Piedmont author Kelly Valen’s New York Times article from which her new book The Twisted Sisterhood: Unraveling the Dark Legacy of Female Friendship stemmed. It’s been years since the sorority experience that soured Valen on female friendships, but the pain is still fresh. A pain that Valen found she shares with many women.
Ram Dass won’t be appearing in person at Book Passage in Corte Madera on Nov. 7 to promote his new book, Be Love Now: The Path of the Heart (HarperOne)—a follow-up to his 1971 bestseller, Be Here Now. He suffered a debilitating stroke 13 years ago, and now stays put in Maui, so he’ll be appearing by teleconference. But that won’t stop local metaphysical junkies from showing up to talk spiritual bliss with the iconic author and teacher.
Last Thursday, local artists and art lovers gathered at Rare Device in Duboce Triangle to celebrate the publication of The Exquisite Book: 100 Artists Play a Collaborative Game (Chronicle Books). In it—as its name implies—a hundred artists play the legendary Exquisite Corpse game, in which they each make a picture in sequence, based only on the prior artist's rendering. Kind of like a cross between Telephone and Pictionary for pros, though the game was actually invented by the Surrealists, that cheerful French lot who valued pure expression above reason, morals and even aesthetics. The resulting book shows—in satisfyingly thick, fold-out pages—the results of this collective stream of consciousness.
Raymond Carver, frequently compard to Chekov, was one of America's greatest short story authors. His stories center on dysfunctional relationships and broken spirits, which are exposed yet dignified by Carver's sparse elegance. Bay Area writer Carol Sklenicka, author of a new Carver biography, Raymond Carver: A Writer's Life, will speak at the Mechanic's Institute Library tonight at 6pm ($12) about her work and about Carver's life, from his working-class origins to his battles with substance abuse and, in the end, cancer. The SF Chronicle writes, "Raymond Carver's life, as related in the exhaustive and definitive new biography by Carol Sklenicka, reads like a Raymond Carver story."
Charles Fracchia is passionate about San Francisco's history. A lifelong resident of the city, he's published three books about it, including his latest, When the Water Came Up to Montgomery Street: San Francisco During the Gold Rush. He's also the founder and president emeritus of the SF Historical Society, and was one of the founders of Rolling Stone magazine. In his new book, the first ever to focus entirely on how the Gold Rush impacted SF, he theorizes that San Francisco's "instant city" development during the gold craze may be responsible for its culture of tolerance and inclusiveness today.
Writer, actor, and comedian John Hodgman has had a wild ride since publishing his first book, a collection of fake facts and "Complete World Knowledge" titled The Areas of My Expertise, in 2005. In that time, he's become the resident expert on "The Daily Show," co-starred in numerous films, and portrayed the "PC" in Apple's ongoing series of "Get a Mac" commercials. He's also written a sequel, More Information Than You Require, recently released in paperback. The More Information audiobook, also just released, features celebrity guests ranging from Sarah Vowell to Zach Galifianakis. Hodgman will appear in San Francisco at City Arts & Lectures this weekend.