Beginning IN THE LAKE OF THE WOODS, by Tim O’Brien

The recommendation is six years old, from a print-out she took home with her during her 2012 residency in Hawthornden International Retreat for Writers. We six writers in June 2012 did a lot of sharing of our favorite books. Someone decided to type them up. Self took the list home, and promptly lost it. She found it again, just a month ago, stuck in the back of a drawer of her writing desk in Redwood City. There, on p. 3, were two books by Tim O’Brien: The Things They Carried and In the Lake of the Woods.

Self began with The Things They Carried. She read it decades ago, taught it to classes. It’s held up. She liked most of the stories.

She decided not to do too much advance research on In the Lake of the Woods. She assumed it was another book about Vietnam.

She loves that O’Brien begins with descriptions of the lake. The lake is in his short stories, too — there is such a lyricism to his descriptions of it. She loves that In the Lake of the Woods is about a wounded candidate, a man who’s lost an election by a landslide.

Also, she loves (so far) the mystery.

  • Anthony L. (Tony) Carbo: Show me a politician, I’ll show you an unhappy childhood.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Mick LaSalle’s Review of ‘American Animals’

from the San Francisco Chronicle, 8 June 2018:

Seems to diss Evan Peters, lol. But interesting for describing the film’s “American thing” (i.e. yearnings)

Even though without the heist there would be no reason for the movie, it hardly seems possible that the heist will happen, not with these guys. Indeed, it’s not certain that the participants themselves even want it to happen. Yes, Warren is all for it, but the rest of them just seem willing to go along.

Part of the explanation for their sticking with the plan may be Warren’s personal charisma — not the charisma evidenced by the actor playing Warren, but that of the real-life Warren. He seems forceful and funny and looks like the leading man in a zany romantic comedy. Another explanation, suggested by the movie’s title, is that this is just an American thing: the desire for money, the desire to be somebody, to have status, to have an interesting story.

Yet one has to wonder . . .  where are the young women in this story? Why don’t Spencer and Warren have girlfriends? One gets the feeling that if either of them had one, the plan might have been scuttled immediately. The reason for this is that it often seems as though the guys are in this plot out of boredom, or out of some restless desire to feel that they have hope.

Self’s personal opinion? There is not enough Evan Peters on the big screen. Perhaps it’s Peters’s insouciant affect. The Quicksilver slowing-down-bullets scene never gets old.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

First Day of San Francisco Refugee Food Festival

In honor of World Refugee Day, June 20, San Francisco this week is hosting the Refugee Food Festival.

The festival kicks off today in one of Anthony Bourdain’s favorite San Francisco restaurants, the Hog Island Oyster Company in the Ferry Building.

The chef, Pa Wah, from Burma, “spent the majority of her life in the Mae La refugee camp in Thailand.”

The other participating chefs are from Bhutan, Iraq, Myanmar, Senegal, and Syria.

More information on the festival, here.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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