Remembering Don Rothman, a voice for writers and writing

                                                   photo by Scott Rappaport I just spoke with Don on Tuesday afternoon at some length. During our phone conversation,  we talked about the importance of writing and composition courses and how they teach students to engage not only with the academy but with the wider world. I’ve taught composition at San Jose State and Columbia, but I’ve rarely met a professor who articulated the goals and potentials of writing so elegantly. He will be missed. The full story is right here, and here is a lively discussion between Professor Rothman and his old friend and colleague Herman Blake. If you would like to hear about Don Rothman in his own words, here is a link to his website.

Our bookstore!

Just the other day I met an author I’ve admired for a long while, Ann Packer, who wrote a lovely appreciation of the Capitola Book Cafe. Her essay appears in a newly released anthology, My Bookstore, in which more than 75 authors pen tributes to their favorite booksellers. Someone was kind enough to videotape the entire “Our Bookstore” presentation at the Book Cafe, highlighting the work of  several writers who spend lots of time at the Book Cafe, including me. As far as I know, it is the only video of me reading anything anywhere. Check in later this week — I’ll try to get that link up on the blog just as soon as I am able. And thank you for the latest round of messages about the “Shoebox Man” essay in P & W.  I appreciate each and every one of your emails.

Catamaran Literary Reader in the news!

Thanks to the generous readers who let me know about this lovely article about Catamaran in the Santa Cruz Patch and another one about Peggy Townsend’s recent publishing triumph, as written by Christa Martin in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. And thanks for the kind mentions of my work in these stories.  I truly appreciate it.

He’s your man: Leonard Cohen concert review, San Jose, California, November 7, 2012

“Old age isn’t a battle: old age is a massacre.” So said Philip Roth, but Leonard Cohen is not about to concede defeat. There was something graceful and defiant about that magisterial voice, the dancing, the sexual posturing.  He made every song, even the ones that referred to the inevitability of death and decay, boom out through the HP Pavillion last night, and when he blessed the audience at the end, hoping for safety and peace for those with families, and those who found themselves alone, he added a lovely touch of high holidays to the proceedings.  The man is 78, and he often referred to his advanced years in a funny, rueful way: My friends are gone And my hair is grey I ache in the places where I used to play.  And yet he addressed the audience, sang his songs and recited “A Thousand Kisses Deep” with such…

Trick or … TREAT!!!!

I started the evening, believing that everything was going to the dogs. Then the polls started perking up, and everything changed. Then I went to sleep believing Proposition 30 was going to the dogs. Then I woke up and was in for a big surprise. What a relief. It could just as easily have been a “TRICK.”


Enough said. Instead of emigrating to Canada, I am going to mark this grand occasion by going to a concert by a grand Canadian: the great Leonard Cohen, appearing tonight in San Jose. Actually attending the concert will be quite a logistical challenge for me, but I am going to do this by hook or crook …

Memories of a hurricane: our Sandy-whacked New York City adventures

On this busy election day, I thought you might take a moment out of watching those polls (relentlessly, joylessly, fruitlessly) and take a look at this brief travelogue. The bottom line is, I got off extremely easy. No power loss in my part of the city, and no flooding. Yes, I saw some harrowing things — gas rationing, traffic lights bopping and pitching in the gusts, awnings blowing down, and bits of brownstone falling off various buildings. But the bottom line is, I ended up in NYC for three additional unscheduled days, which is  kind of like throwing Br’er Rabbit in the briar patch. The hard part was knowing that a number of my friends were either in harm’s way or undergoing severe hardships ranging from electrical outages to flooding and gas rationing. Walking out of our temporary residence, we saw some scenes of devastation including downed trees in front…

The Man in the Shoebox in Poets & Writers Magazine

hi everyone. I just wanted to say thank you very much for your thoughtful and encouraging responses to my “Shoebox” essay in the latest P & W (the one with Chris Ware’s artwork on the cover.)  I guess I hit a nerve with this one? Anyways, I hope you continue to soldier on with your projects. There is every reason not to continue with your books and your stories — every reason except for the fact that you want to write them, which is reason enough to keep plugging away as far as I’m concerned. And if you think a home-made desk-bound artifact will help keep you on task, you might consider making one for yourself. Remember, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy to get the job done so get out those glue sticks and those cardboard boxes and shipping containers right now. By the way, there wasn’t quite…

Back from our Hurricane Sandy adventure

I couldn’t have picked a more interesting time for our New York City family vacation. I will tell you all about it once my brain is a bit less fried from the entire experience. Stay tuned. Meanwhile I wanted you to know we are back in Santa Cruz — it’s pretty amazing that we got a flight out of Newark yesterday (many were cancelled all around us, and I felt terrible for the families who were waiting around, in some cases for days, to get out.) I have a longer report coming your way, but I just want to say that the New Yorkers were incredibly good-humored and patient during a difficult time for their city.