Your mid-march Under The Stars update: travels to Tucson, upcoming big travel writing conference, continuing recuperation, and kicking myself for not ordering the Tres Leches cake in Tucson

Feeling under the weather back here in Santa Cruz, CA, but I sure had a big time out in Tucson. For one thing, I’ve never seen so many other Tilley-hat-wearing people in my life (and I made sure to greet every one of the Tilley people. We Tilley folks need to stick together.) It was pretty cool to hang out at the famous El Charro, and with Matthew Parker and Mark Woods as company. They have a specialty out there called carne seca — it’s like a haute Southwestern version of beef jerky — they hang the steak strips in the sun, in cages no less, swinging like gibbets over this restaurant, and then they reconstitute it with water and spices, and it is mighty good. Kicking myself for not ordering the tres leeches cake. (I didn’t know that was a ‘thing’ at El Charro. The waiter was so enthusiastic about the…

My March update: Tucson bound for Under The Stars, plus George Saunders and the cough without end

Thanks for taking a look a this. I’m just starting to pack my bags for the Tucson Festival of Books next weekend — my first one ever (thank you very much, Roberta and Dennis, for making this happen). I’m proud to be a featured author at the bookfest, speaking solo about Under The Stars at 10 a.m. March 12 at the Integrated Learning Center, Room 130, on the University of Arizona campus. I will try if possible to scare up some doughnuts for at least some of you but please don’t hold me to that — I just don’t know Tucson very well, having been there only once, in a great big rumbling RV, which I used to explore the Desert Museum, the stunning Saguaro National Park, which I visited during a rare snowstorm, and a few other remote areas including the Gilbert Rey Campground, where I once welcomed the…

My conversation with Toni Morrison about good and evil in Catamaran lit mag

Not too long ago, I had a conversation with Toni Morrison about good and evil as portrayed in literature and in popular culture. An expanded version of that q and a appears in the current issue of Catamaran, which is available at a newsstand or bookstore near you and can also be ordered online. (There is a paywall for this one so please go out and get a hold of a physical copy, if possible.) I hope you enjoy reading this piece. I had heard that she does not suffer fools gladly, and prepared like crazy for our talk. I checked out a wheelbarrow and a half’s worth of her fiction, nonfiction, and criticism. I’m glad I did. It was great to revisit her work after all these years, and I was fascinated by her stories about the publishing industry in the 70s, her friendship with Angela Davis, and the…

We’ve just added a few more Under The Stars events (so please save the date.)

hi everyone — Busy times. I just got back from my first straight-up vacation in about seven years. Now that I’m back in Santa Cruz, and have rested up for a little bit,  I just wanted to include some dates here for a bunch of brand-new reading dates for Under The Stars — two in Santa Cruz County, a couple of them over the hill, and some others in far-flung locations from Tucson to New York state. Here goes. Please “save the date” if one or more of these events are near you. Sunday, January 29 10:30 a.m. Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Los Gatos, during the “new beginnings” service at the church Los Gatos, CA  Tuesday, February 7 Under The Stars book group meeting at The Bookstore Plus (via Skype) 7:00 pm EST 2491 Main Street, Lake Placid, NY   Saturday, February 18 230 p.m. Porter Memorial Library Soquel, California…

How to order signed copies of Under The Stars, and my December update.

Thanks so much for checking in! I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Thank you for your stories and questions and your continued support. For starters, I just want to respond to the people who have left me messages in various places asking how to get a signed copy of Under The Stars. I am glad to say that you can order signed copies through Bookshop Santa Cruz – and here is the link. If you wish, you can also ask me to write something specific in the copies you order. All you do is fill in the requested inscription in the comments section after placing the order. Unless it is an extremely off-color limerick, or something libelous, I will write anything you like.   I’ll be honest with you. I have not gone camping since Mother’s Day, when my little family and I went to Napa and we…

Under The Stars mini book tour of Southern California libraries, October 22-23

hi everyone. Thanks for checking in. First of all, I just wanted to let you all know that the Under The Stars book salon/dinner, hosted by Catamaran literary magazine (and the brilliant Catherine Segurson, who is captain of that particular ship) was a great success. I could not have hoped for more. It seemed like that event was about to crash into a barrier reef of Santa Cruz flakiness, but Laili Restaurant stepped in to save the day. We all talked and dined outside in the enclosed garden patio next to the restaurant. It was a great selection of people: a respected printer, a publisher, a legendary muffin baker, a writer and bookstore events coordinator, a photographer, a history teacher, a librarian, a newly arrived editor from New York City, and many others, some of them meeting for the first time, exchanging stories, talking long after dark. I even struck up an…

Just in time for Halloween: the story of Aleister Crowley and the dark magic of camping in America

     The strange power of camping is open to everyone. Perhaps this has something to do with removing the familiar and replacing it with rocks, fields, and streams. Recreating or rearranging elements of home life in an unfamiliar environment can have a profound and mysterious effect on our thinking processes. Such was the case for Aleister Crowley, the infamous British occultist, ceremonial magician, sexual libertine, writer and Ozzy Osbourne lyric inspiration who looked in later years like Uncle Fester from The Addams Family. Crowley was not a nice person. He once baptized a frog and named it Jesus Chris before crucifying it and eating its legs for dinner. He took part in orgies and wrote poems about necrophilia and bestiality, and once professed his desire to make love with a duck. Crowley, in other words, isn’t someone you’d ever want to bunk around with at a KOA Kamping Kabin….

Update for October: paperback news, literary salon, mini-tour of Southern California libraries

hi everyone. Thanks for a great summer for Under The Stars. The build-up to publication was very hard for me because of the loss of my father (he passed away just before the book went to print, after a long and heartbreaking illness and two hospitalizations) and also the sudden loss of Steve Watts, who I’ve gotten to know in the course of preparing the book. Steve had a tremendous amount of respect for Native American traditions, woodcraft camping technique, and recreational camping history going back to the early 19th century. Like my father, Steve got a hold of an early version of UTS and was very enthusiastic about it. I was looking forward to following up with him and checking in after the book came out. The last thing he ever said to me was “Some day by the campfire.” In honor of Steve, I’ve been signing a lot…

People really know how to camp in New Hampshire.

The people of New Hampshire sure have a lot of funny and hair-raising camping stories. This is not surprising, considering that the Granite State has so much camping history. When camping started to become a “thing” after the Civil War, the White Mountains were a prime destination for Romantic camping wayfarers, right up there with the Adirondacks of Upstate NY. Just the other day, I went on The Exchange on NHPR to talk about Under The Stars and that classic never-to-be-forgotten rule that applies to camping as well as every-day existence on Earth: “Bad for life. Good for story!” I did not make up that saying, but it sure is true. Here is the link to listen in on my camping talk on the Exchange. This was a lot of fun for me. By the way, this was pretty early for me — this is how my voice sounds when…

A brief update for August 20: more radio, California Academy of Sciences, Book Passage in Corte Madera, and beyond

Hello there, and good morning. For starters, I just want to say thank you for the messages you’ve sent to me via Twitter or Facebook or through this web site. I love hearing from readers, and I’m glad to hear that the book has been hiking its way toward some far-flung places. I’m starting to hear from readers overseas, and from readers who are beaming messages to me from places that I thought were truly off-the-grid. I guess nowhere is really off the grid anymore! Anyways, welcome back from your trip to Yosemite (or wherever you happened to camp over the past few days.) Just wanted to let you know that I’ll be going on the radio on Monday once again — this time for New Hampshire’s NPR, NHPR, to discuss my book, from 9 to 10 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. Here is more information. So if you just so…