April 11-17, 2007

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2007 Spring Lit Issue:
Born to Bird | I Forgot I Wrote a Book | Dan Imhoff | Lit Events | What the Neighbors are Writing | 'Harry Potter' and Marxism | A. M. Homes | Anastasia Goodstein

'Fall Colors, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County'

Leaves of glass: 'Fall Colors, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County' is among the photos in 'Terroir' by photographer George Rose with text by wine writer Rod Smith.

Local Lit

Our twice yearly roundup of what the neighbors are up to

By Brett Ascarelli, Gretchen Giles, Patricia Lynn Henley and Christopher Tomera

'Terroir," as Bohemian readers know, is a French word describing the very dirt, water, sunlight and air that infuses grapes with a taste of place, gives cheese the smack of local grass and evinces, through the palate, the rich medley of one specific countryside. Terroir is also the concept chosen by commercial photographer George Rose and James Beard Award-winning wine writer Rod Smith in The Art of Terroir: A Portrait of California Vineyards (Chronicle Books; $24.95), as a four-color glossy homage to, well, Kendall-Jackson. Rose, a former Pulitzer Prize-nominated photographer for the Los Angeles Times, and Smith, a contributing wine writer for the Times, have teamed up to document the vast tracts of vineyards owned by Kendall-Jackson throughout California. (It is instructive to note that Rose is also the vice president of public relations for K-J.) Smith uses his typically lyrical style to limn the natural forces that conjoin to create a grapevine. In conjunction with the book's publication, the Sonoma County Museum opens an exhibit of the photos on April 28. (More on that later.)--G.G.

Scrapbooking as an avenue for embracing life and self-awareness might not seem obvious to non-scrapbookers, but Windsor author and speaker Tasra Dawson makes the connection clearly and easily in her book Real Women Scrap: Create the Life and Layouts You've Always Wanted (Daredreamer Press; $14.95). Using both her own experiences and insightful anecdotes from others, Dawson explains how to move from the busyness of an overscheduled modern life and its resulting inner gridlock to realizing what really matters and reaching for it. In Dawson's view, the creative hobby of preserving memories on paper provides opportunities for insights on simplicity, balance, boundaries, perspective and more. Cropping photos is all about recognizing and capturing the essence, focusing on what's really important. Adding borders can create much-needed boundaries. And making endless comparisons can kill creativity. It all adds up to refreshingly clear life lessons and tips. A devout Christian, Dawson's upbeat faith infuses the book without overwhelming it; her core message truly is about the joys and insights available through scrapbooking, if one takes the time to look.--P.L.H.

Novato author and illustrator Jan Adkins becomes a "scribe and illuminator" to debunk modern ideas of chivalry in his new hardcover book for young adults What If You Met a Knight (Roaring Book Press; $16.95). Slaying such sacred dragons as King Arthur, fair ladies and jousting, Adkins exposes the day-to-day life of a made-up knight, Sir Guy of Wareham. In exchange for land, Sir Guy pledges his warlord fealty, or loyalty. (The pyramid of fealty, which separates the lords from the vassals, is kind of a precursor to those inane little flow charts that company management sometimes draws up to clarify who reports to whom.) Instead of questing and winning the hearts of fair maidens, Sir Guy is just as mired down in the quotidian as the rest of us: he manages his farms, takes care of business, judges disputes, invests in projects and hunts boar. He deals with fleas, sickness and surprise attacks. His armor takes an hour to put on; he's obliged to feed visitors--like the warlord and his retinue--who might drop in for weeks; and he worries that his wife might die during childbirth. If you once felt a certain nostalgia for King Arthur and the Round Table, you won't after reading this little gem that doses out reality like the smelling salts those "fair" ladies used to sniff while walking through sewage-puddled streets.--B.A.

The year is 2066, and the United States is no more. Rather than a collection of states, America is now a series of separate countries, with California entirely confined to the southern half of what used to be our state and Northern California renamed Redwood and butted up next to that part of Oregon that became Sierra. (To no one's surprise, Texas is Texas is Texas--no changes there.) In Petaluma writer Lee Singer's forthcoming sci-fi thriller Blackjack (Five Star Press; $25.95; June 20, 2007, publication date), tough female mercenary Rica Marin travels what's left of the roads, fighting off the few people left in North America, each of whom is hungry for something different, be it cell packs or ethanol or sex. A sort of Mad Maxine for the flat-accented, Marin makes a convincing antihero for the post-U.S. age, an era seemingly closer than ever before. --G.G.

Explore your own backyard by following the tips in Frommer's Napa & Sonoma Day by Day: 29 Smart Ways to See the Wine Country (Wiley Publishing Inc.; $12.99). Skim through author Avital Binshtock's "18 Favorite Moments" to see if your most enjoyable Wine Country experiences are included, or if Binshtock found some that you and your friends need to try for yourselves. This small (4-by-7 inches), easy-to-carry volume presents the area's attractions in a bright, colorful and inviting format, and would make a great gift for visiting friends or relatives who want to see it all. In addition to the favorite-moments list, there are suggestions for one- to seven-day-long tours of Napa and Sonoma, and specific details for those interested in such specialties as local history, art, charming small towns, activities with children, outdoor adventures, romance and more. Of course there's a listing of local wineries, but there's also info for visitors who don't drink alcohol. Neatly tucked into a clear plastic envelope inside the book's back flap is a sturdy fold-out map with both overview sections and details for navigating local towns. Napa & Sonoma Day by Day is fun to skim through and great for finding new attractions when Aunt Edna or Cousin George are visiting once again.--P.L.H.

FEMA trailers of their day, the hastily constructed "earthquake shacks" that housed thousands of San Franciscans after the 1906 tumbler have more longevity than today's mobile cans. Many still live in them today, among them Sausalito resident Gary Diedrichs, who has set his novel, The Earthquake Shack (Twobridges; $15.95), in a structure similar to the one he himself inhabits. A "Sausalito love story," Shack is as much a love story to the town itself circa 1950, when artists and wharf rats cohabited with the upper-crust settlers on the area's lush scenic hills than it is to any mere mortal. A former magazine editor and author of travel guides, Diedrichs allows his character's fascination with the town and even the haunted residents of his earthquake shack to cohabit with the love for a "headstrong" artist, the lovely Maggie.--G.G.

Equal parts Douglas Adams, Kabbalah and Rubik's Cube, Breakfast with the Ones You Love (Bantam; $12) by Santa Rosa author and actor Eliot Fintushel casts a spellbinding tale of a girl with a "dead face" who is on a mission to help a small-time drug dealer, "the chosen of the chosen of the chosen," aka "the Yid." Sixteen-year-old Lea Tillim has the ability to kill anyone she wants; to just give them a really bad case of IBS, all she has to do is think about it. (Chew on that Carrie White!) While her telekinetic powers alone would make any teen's life more difficult, Lea must help Jack Konar, the stranger from another world (literally) who, as the Chosen One, also must build an intergalactic spaceship capable of taking those deemed worthy to the promised land. Throw in some evil beings, plenty of cats and the Mob, and there's enough in Breakfast with the Ones You Love to fill a whole bucket of Lynchian aspirations. Of course, no story would be complete unless two of the characters fell for each other. With its labyrinthine stream-of-consciousness prose and heady plot, Breakfast with the Ones You Love is something to pick up for those looking for a tale from another world.--C.T.

To understand the complete history of Marin County, read Chief Marin: Leader, Rebel, and Legend (Heyday Books; $21.95) by College of Marin anthropology and archaeology instructor Betty Goerke. Painstakingly researched and lovingly presented, Chief Marin provides insights not only into this leader of native resistance to Spanish colonization but also into the rich and varied Coast Miwok culture into which he was born and which was ravaged first by the cruelties of the mission system and then by Anglo-American settlers. Goerke carefully and richly details the historical sights, sounds, aromas and tastes of the lands now known as Marin and Sonoma counties, and the intricate culture and traditions the Coast Miwok struggled to maintain against the waves of European interlopers. Named Huicmuse at his birth and baptized as Marino, this native leader was often simply referred to as Marin. In his youth, he was imprisoned for defying the Spanish military; in his mature years, he discovered ways to help his fellow Coast Miwok by working within the system. But this book is more than just one man's life story. It tears away the inaccurate stereotypes imposed by European settlers intent on claiming the land, and offers a detailed perspective on the Coast Miwok people from ancient to modern times.--P.L.H.

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