Devotees of the Bancroft Library: “We’re archive rats!”

This past Saturday, I jumped in my car and headed to Berkeley to attend the annual meeting of the Friends of the Bancroft Library. I love this University of California campus and especially U.C. Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, which houses some of the most precious and rare manuscripts of the American West. That day, I met other people — historians, authors, and avid readers – who are also devoted to preserving and supporting the library’s treasures. It was a gathering of fellow “archive rats.”

Book group pick: Lost Kingdom is now out in paperback!

Mahalo nui loa –  Hawaiian for thank you very much – to the dozens of book groups I’ve spoken with from around the country that have picked Lost Kingdom as their monthly or quarterly read. I’ve met some of these groups in person and have skyped with some and phoned in to others. It’s been a wonderful experience and now that Lost Kingdom is just out in paperback, I hope to meet with even more groups (including a wonderful group in Kentfield, Ca. that invited me to join them to discuss the book over a feast of kalua pig, poi, and coconut layer cake — so ono!)

Susan Orlean on Stagecraft (and How Writing Can Be Like Stripping…)

I just spent the past few days at the 21st Annual Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference. I was on a panel with  Andrew McCarthy, who made his name as an actor in “Pretty in Pink,” “St. Elmo’s Fire,” and “Less Than Zero,” and is now an award-winning travel writer for National Geographic Traveler and other publications. I also discussed the “Art of Attention” on a panel with veteran travel writers David Farley, Larry Habegger, and Georgia Hesse.

How Novelist Kaui Hart Hemmings landed a role opposite George Clooney in “The Descendants”

The statistics are daunting: less than two percent of all the books optioned for the screen ever enter production. Far fewer make it into theaters. My first book, The House of Mondavi was optioned twice, but never came close to becoming a movie.

That’s why it’s been a vicarious thrill to watch Kaui Hart Hemmings’ first novel, The Descendants, approach its release date of Nov. 18th as a  movie from Fox Searchlight.

Novelist Kaui Hart Hemmings, author of "The Descendants"

The Descendants was Kaui’s debut novel. A dark comedy about a dysfunctional family, it was first published in 2007 to critical acclaim. The New York Times called it “refreshingly wry.”

Fomenting the Revolution – Anne Lamott

Ann Lamott
Photo by Mark Richards

Last night, on the fifth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, I heard Anne Lamott speak at Book Passage, one of my favorite bookstores.
Anne (often referred to as Annie) was at the tail end of a three-week tour for the paperback release of her book, Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith. She was in particularly fiery form, unleashing her hilarious fury at everyone from Dick Cheney to John McCain to the media pundit who criticized Hilary Clinton for fat ankles.
A hometown favorite, Annie grew up in nearby Tiburon, spent a lot of time in Bolinas, and now lives in Fairfax. With her dreadlocks tied back in a batik scarf and wearing red clogs and a lilac-colored jumper, she spoke to a large, standing-room only crowd, including many longtime family friends.