A brand-new review of the Cactus Eaters, in this month’s Memoir Journal (this blog journal entry was thoroughly updated on Monday, December 17)

. I just found out that this month’s Memoir Journal, featuring this arresting cover photograph and a Wild interview with Cheryl Strayed, includes a brand-new (and as it turns out, very positive) review of my book, The Cactus Eaters. It’s nice to find out that reviews continue to trickle in at this late hour, especially now that I’ve settled down, bought myself a CPAP, and stopped all my adrenalized wanderings and pulse-pounding adventures at least for the time being. Unless you include  going to the corner store and attempting to buy organic prunes without getting mugged by some idiot. See entry below. Addendum to this blog posting: I finally read the review. They loved The Cactus Eaters, and described it as a companion to Wild. One particular line in the review made me gasp when I read it, but I’ve decided to just let you read the review for yourself…

What is Cactuseaters, anyhow? A compendium of links regarding this blog, various writings, Catamaran Literary Reader information, updates, uncensored book reviews and more

             I’m still stewing about that prune incident, and I’ll have more to say about it soon. In the meantime, here are some links and other readings for you to consider, especially if you’re new to this blog. Here is a new story about Catamaran Literary Reader, which employs me as contributing editor, and another recent news report.  Here are links and uncensored editorial reviews about my first book, The Cactus Eaters, which is a true story.  I have gone ahead and republished and updated The Cactus Eaters FAQ. Also, here is story about my unfortunate run-in with the people at the Pain Quotidian bakery. Here is a podcast of my Catamaran talk with TC Boyle.  And here is a blog post about my neighbor, who wants his housemates to touch him on the knee. By the way, I used to have a whole bunch of Catamaran…

Some idiot just tried to mug me in the middle of an organic health food store!

Alternate title: “Some idiot just tried to mug me at the Food Bin” You won’t believe this. On Sunday at 1:30 p.m, I was set upon by a loud, anti-Semitic, near-toothless mugger, right in the middle of a health food store. To be precise, he tried to mug me in front of the shriveled apricots. That afternoon, I stopped by the Food Bin & Herb Room (you know this place? In Santa Cruz, California? It’s this endearing if dark and dingy little throwback of an organic food store with “like, dude” cashiers and interesting produce. ) I stopped there to get some dehydrated plums. They have really good ones there, for some reason, and just as I was loading up my little plastic bag, I saw this guy behind me with only four teeth, in the lower part of his jaw. He was probably in his early 50s with a smeary…

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. http://cactuseaters.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default

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. http://cactuseaters.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default

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. http://cactuseaters.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default

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.” http://cactuseaters.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default


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 … http://cactuseaters.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default

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…