Read these books now

Not that these people need any of my help. But you need to read Alice Munro’s Too Much Happiness. In fact, you really need to read it twice. I love the way each character casts a shadow; Munro finds brilliant ways to add depth and backstory to characters that normally turn up ‘flat’ (crazy intruder, nasty husbands, etc.) When you’re done, clear your palate with Wells Tower’s Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned. , by far the best debut story collection you will find this year. Lavinia Greenlaw’s The Importance of Music To Girls is a lyrical memoir about the power of music. She messes with the formula along with chronology. Don’t expect another variation on Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity. Marie Brenner’s Apples and Oranges uses an unusual lens — the joys and hardships of the apple-growing industry — to examine her relationship with her brother. Francine Prose’s Blue Angel is a…

Cactus conspiracy

One of you asked about the wildest email I have ever received in relation to my first book. Well, here is one standout. A few months ago, someone (here on the West Coast) said he could prove that I did not hike any of the Pacific Crest Trail, and that he was going to show up to one of my readings one day and confront me with his dossier of “evidence.” “I can’t wait to see your face,” he wrote. According to his conspiracy theory, I basically sat around on a couch all summer long and somehow convinced my loyal hiking companion, “Lois”, to hike the trail for me and ghost-write the book for me too. After voicing his theory to me, he then invited me to go hiking with him!!! I will share more from the mail bag very soon. And if anyone can prove this conspiracy theory is…

Daniel White to conquer the John Muir Trail

Be nice to Mr. Daniel White if you see him out on the JMT in a few months. Mr. White, a group leader in a computational engineering group, is setting out to do the trail very soon. “My mother bought your book for me as a joke. But I really enjoyed it,” he explained. “I’m a hiker myself, been hiking the Sierra Nevada for 20 years. I plan to do the whole JMT on my 50th birthday, coming up shortly.” Good luck to you, Daniel White. Enjoy the Rae Lakes area. Watch out for Bear Creek. Also, watch your footing up on Glen Pass. There are a couple of sketchy sections.

Cactus Eaters photographs (make your own special edition.)

Here are a few classic shots, straight from the vault. Now, before you email me saying “Why don’t you have any pictures of (insert names here.)” I want to tell you that this is a work in progress. I still have to fish through a few more waterlogged boxes of PCT slides. You can use these photos to make your own illustrated special edition. All you need is 1. three copies of the book, 2. an Exacto knife, 3. a color printer and 4. Elmer’s glue. Good luck with this project, and if you go through with it, make sure to send me pictures of the completed book. Spiky Joshua Trees beckon travelers in the Mojave desert. Desert scene in early morning Actual Golden Oak/cactus-bite diary entry The expeditioners fighting suncups under Forester Pass. Peaceful, alluring meadow under Mount Whatever. Here are two of my photos of the late, great…

“We don’t sell dank.” — the signs of Haight Ashbury

My eccentric neighborhood has some of the most unusual signs I’ve seen in a long while. Here is my latest sampling. The words are unchanged but the italics are all mine. This is from two signs hanging up at the Daljeet’s Boutique. “No photos. No brats. No cellphones. no restroom so don’t ask. No loitering. This is not the place to eat your pizza, tie your shoes, smoke whatever you smoke or hang out.” Wow! Thanks, Daljeets, for making us all feel so cozy and welcome. And here’s another one, from the Cannabis Company: “We don’t see weed, bud, herb, dank, ganja, trees, or marijuana, and not even reefer. We don’t know where you can get some. Thanks for reading, and welcome to the Cannabis Company.” Well, that just about covers it, although they didn’t mention green bud or fat nuggs. And here’s one more sign, at Murio’s Trophy Room….

Cactus Eaters Pacific Crest Trail photos — coming soon

I’ve received so many emails about this that I will have to post them very soon. Please keep in mind that I haven’t scanned a whole lot of photos with actual people in them with a couple of exceptions. But the photos are nice-looking, and they might convince you to hike the trail. Check back here within the next week or so. When I have access to a reliable scanner that handles slides, I will scan and post more shots.