the art of storytelling / bay area book festival, national novel writing month, oakland book festival

“there is nothing to writing. all you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” ~ ernest hemingway

“every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.”
—virginia woolf

“the most beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes.”
—andre gide

why write, why read? we love stories ~ they bring us into worlds not our own ~ expose us to the realities of others ~ their ways of thinking, their obsessions that many times mirror our own. when we write, what do we try to convey? which “me” comes out ~ this time, that time? and why? and when we read, what are we looking for? to empathize, sympathize, identify with, distinguish from?  in the past 15 years i mostly saw myself as a maker of clothes, of food and salon dinners, and at times i suppose, an anthropologist with a specific way of seeing. but now (finally), i get it. i’m writing, and loving the power and beauty of not only reading, but making my own narratives out of these things we call words ~ stringing them together into phrases, that become sentences, that become paragraphs, juxtaposed, and onward to become a reason, a motive, a dream, a desire, a story… this past month i co-hosted a couple of dinners for the bay area book festival, was on the host committee for a fundraiser for National Novel Writing Month. Below ~ moments captured at these 3 different events that brought together people around the art of writing, the art of storytelling and the art of gathering. 

“we die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed,
bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom,
characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves…
i wish for all this to be marked on by body when I am dead.
i believe in such cartography – to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map
like the names of rich men and women on buildings.
we are communal histories, communal books.
we are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience.”
~ michael ondaatje, the english patient


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above / writers, writing & reading ~ ernest hemingway, hunter s. thompson, j.g. ballard, joan didion, joyce carol oates, patricia highsmith, agatha christie,
salman rushdie, ralph ellison, michael ondaatje, angela carter.

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking,
what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means.
What I want and what I fear.” 
~ joan didion

“To lose yourself: a voluptuous surrender, lost in your arms, lost to the world,
utterly immersed in what is present so that its surroundings fade away.
In Benjamin’s terms, to be lost is to be fully present,
and to be fully present is to be capable of being in uncertainty and mystery.”
~ rebecca solnit

“She had always wanted words, she loved them;grew up on them.
Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape.” ~ michael ondaatje


A MOVEABLE FEAST for the Bay Area Book Festival
salon dinner #89 / co-hosted by Linda Schacht Gage and John Gage
sunday april 17th 2016, 7pm, Berkeley, CA

richard and carolyn beahrs, cari borja, jane and mark ciabattari
bill and michelle fisher, linda schacht gage and john gage
allen matthews, ramona mays, cherilyn parsons, t.j. stiles, deb wandell

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“a book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles.
one glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years.
across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you.
writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another.
books break the shackles of time—proof that humans can work magic. —carl sagan


A MOVEABLE FEAST for the Bay Area Book Festival
salon dinner #9o / co-hosted by Elizabeth and Otis Chandler
Literature in the Digital Age
sunday april 24th 2016, 7pm, San Francisco, CA

elizabeth & otis chandler, cherilyn parsons, cari borja, kate jessup
 jen pahlka & timothy o’really, peter hudson, rolfe winkler
ann farmer, damon horowitz, jennifer 8. lee, lise quintana
shobha rao & srinivas inguva, elizabeth yarborough & peter haigst

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“remember: plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.”
~ ray bradbury


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“fairy tales in childhood are stepping stones throughout life,
leading the way through trouble and trial.
the value of fairy tales lies not in a brief literary escape from reality,
but in the gift of hope that goodness truly is more powerful
than evil and that even the darkest reality can lead to a Happily Ever After. do not take that gift of hope lightly.
it has the power to conquer despair in the midst of sorrow,
to light the darkness in the valleys of life,
to whisper “One more time” in the face of failure.
hope is what gives life to dreams, making the fairy tale the reality.
~ l.r. knost


National Novel Writing Month / a fundraiser for NANOWRIMO’S YOUNG WRITERS PROGRAM.
saturday may 7th, 6-9pm, in san francisco

host committee / cari borja, bronwyn brunner, karima cammel, arline klatte, mary taugher, vivian walsh
honorary committee / melanie abrams, robert mailer anderson, annie barrows, chris baby, lisa brown, vikram chandra,
dave eggers, daniel handler, mitali perkins
with special guests / daniel handler (lisa brown and otto delivered his speech), chris baty, and kate achatz/author of Rad Women A-Z.

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“it is literature which for me opened the mysterious and decisive doors of imagination and understanding.
 to see the way others see. to think the way others think. and above all, to feel.”
~ salman rushdie

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“let the world burn through you. throw the prism light, white hot, on paper.”
~ ray bradbury

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“in love there are two things ~ bodies and words.” ~ joyce carol oates

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“sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going,
I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges
into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made.
I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think,
“do not worry. you have always written before and you will write now.
all you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.
so finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there.
it was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew
or had seen or had heard someone say. if I started to write elaborately,
or like someone introducing or presenting something,
I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away
and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written.”
~ernest hemingway, moveable feast

“i will love you as a drawer loves a secret compartment,
and as a secret compartment loves a secret…
i will love you until all the codes and hearts have been broken
and until every anagram and egg has been unscrambled.”
~ daniel handler (my toast at salon dinner #53, Nov 2014)

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“the first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written.”
—joyce carol oates

“who wants to become a writer? and why? because it’s the answer to everything. …
it’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities,
to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.”
~ enid bagnold

“i want a certain density that encourages savoring. i want to slide warp over woof, i want to make knots.
i want entanglement, unexpected connections, reverberations, the weight of pouring rain on red earth.
mud is where life begins. ~vikram chandra, geek sublime

“novels are like paintings, specifically watercolors.
every stroke you put down you have to go with.
of course you can rewrite, but the original strokes are still there in the texture of the thing.”
~ joan didion

“write while the heat is in you. …
the writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with.”
henry david thoreau

“wahrheit macht frei, the truth sets you free.”
~ mohamedou ould slahi, guantánamo diary (p.15/to be read in context)

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above / last year’s dinner (salon dinner #71)  for the oakland book festival ~ with guests kira brunner don + timothy don, alex stavrakas
lewis lapham, laura nader, vikram chandra + melanie abrams, matthew zapruder + sarah karlinsky, david rose, kelly burdock, mark danner
karima cammell + duncan brown, dianne + ben fong-torres, ben davis + vanessa inn, rebekah otto + raphi gottesman
laszlo jakab torsos, grant faulkner + heather mackey, rick prelinger, alex cruse, william + lucy hamilton


writers and readers / hope to see you at one of the following ~ 

Oakland Book Festival / Sunday, May 22nd 2016 / Oakland City Hall
Bay Area Book Festival / Saturday & Sunday, June 4th and 5th 2016 / Downtown Berkeley
National Novel Writing Month / November 1st – 30th 2016

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