Upcoming Events

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The Book As Art: Form and Function in Creative Book Structures. An Illustrated Talk by Dominic Riley
Monday, July 13, 2015, 5-7 pm

This lecture illustrates the potential of the book as a three dimensional object, from pop-ups, hidden fore-edge paintings, peep-show books, to books with hidden compartments and intriguing surprises. Whatever the reason for the creation of these unusual books, playfulness and humor is always a guiding principle. Dominic will show work from his favorite book artists, including examples of experimental book structures he has collected and some he has made himself as part of his interest in this creative genre. Seen together they represent over two hundred years of questioning the notion of ‘what is a book?’

Dominic Riley is an internationally renowned bookbinder, artist, and teacher, having won over twenty prizes for his unique fine bindings, made either for exhibitions, competitions, or for commission. His work is in many public and private collections worldwide including the British Library, the Grolier Club, and the Bodleian in Oxford. In June 2013 he won the Sir Paul Getty award for the best binding in the International Bookbinding Competition. He spent the year after the competition traveling round Europe with the exhibition, and recently spent two months lecturing and teaching in Australia and New Zealand.

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Gold Beating: How Gold Leaf is Made. An Illustrated Talk by John Hastings.
Monday, July 27, 2015, 5-7 pm

In 1820, John Hastings’ great grandfather founded Hastings and Company, a gold leaf manufacturing company in Philadelphia. It went on to become the largest gold leaf manufacturing company in America, lasting nearly 150 years. In this illustrated talk, Hastings will describe the age-old craft and all the traditions, methods, and surprising facts surrounding it–for example, it takes one ounce of gold to make 175 square feet of gold leaf. Hastings will also discuss gold beating in Japan and Burma, various uses of gold leaf, and why the market for gold leaf collapsed, and he will show an 80-year-old film about gold beating.

John Hastings was the fourth generation to run his family’s business, Hastings & Co., which manufactured gold leaf in Philadelphia for 148 years. After the business closed in 1968, he spent twenty years at the archeological museum of the University of Pennsylvania, developing computer databases for archaeology, and also working on digs in France, India an Tunisia. He moved to the Bay Area in 2001 and lives in Orinda. In recent years he has written several books about gold leaf and his family’s genealogy.

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Robinson and Una Jeffers: A Life in Letters. An Illustrated Talk by James Karman.
Monday, August 31, 2015, 5-7 pm

The Collected Letters of Robinson Jeffers, with Selected Letters of Una Jeffers, published in three volumes by Stanford University Press, tells the story of two remarkable people.  In this presentation, James Karman will provide an overview of the edition, read excerpts from important letters, and discuss the significance of Jeffers’ Book Club of California publications.

James Karman, Emeritus Professor at California State University, Chico, coordinated the Humanities Program and taught in the Department of English and the Department of Comparative Religion and Humanities. He is the author or editor of several books about Jeffers, including Stones of the Sur: Poetry by Robinson Jeffers, Photographs by Morley Baer (2001), The Collected Letters of Robinson Jeffers, with Selected Letters of Una Jeffers (2009, 2011, and 2015), and Robinson Jeffers: Poet and Prophet (2015), all published by Stanford University Press.

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Best Kept Secrets: The Fiction of Lucia Berlin. With Stephen Emerson, Gloria Frym, Barry Gifford, August Kleinzahler, Jim Nisbet, and Michael Wolfe
Wednesday, September 9, 2015, 5-7 pm

Join City Lights Books and the Book Club of California to celebrate the release of A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories, by Lucia Berlin. Edited by Stephen Emerson. Foreword by Lydia Davis. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Opening statement and appreciation by Stephen Emerson, with readings by Gloria Frym, Barry Gifford, August Kleinzahler, Jim Nisbet, and Michael Wolfe

A Manual for Cleaning Women compiles the best work of the legendary short-story writer Lucia Berlin. With her trademark blend of humor and melancholy, Berlin crafts miracles from the everyday–uncovering moments of grace in the cafeterias and Laundromats of the American Southwest, in the homes of the Northern California upper classes, and from the perspective of a cleaning woman alone in a hotel dining room in Mexico City. The women of Berlin’s stories are lost, but they are also strong, clever, and extraordinarily real. They are hitchhikers, hard workers, bad Christians. With the wit of Lorrie Moore and the grit of Raymond Carver, they navigate a world of jockeys, doctors, and switchboard operators. They laugh, they mourn, they drink. Berlin, a highly influential writer despite having published little in her lifetime, conjures these women from California, Mexico, and beyond. Lovers of the short story will not want to miss this remarkable collection from a master of the form.

Lucia Berlin (1936-2004) was first published when she was twenty-four in The Atlantic Monthly and in Saul Bellow and Keith Botsford’s journal The Noble Savage. Berlin worked brilliantly but sporadically throughout the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s. Her stories are culled from her early childhood in various Western mining towns; her glamorous teenage years in Santiago, Chile; three failed marriages; a lifelong problem with alcoholism; her years spent in Berkeley, New Mexico, and Mexico City; and the various jobs she later held to support her writing and her four sons, including as a high-school teacher, a switchboard operator, a physician’s assistant, and a cleaning woman.

Stephen Emerson is the editor of A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories of Lucia Berlin. He was her close friend and constant correspondent from soon after their first meeting in 1978. His own books include Neighbors (stories, Tombouctou) and The Wife (short novel, Longriver Books). His work has appeared in New Directions in Poetry and Prose, Hambone, and The Review of Contemporary Fiction. Emerson worked as an editor for many years and, later, toiled in what Elmore Leonard called “the advertising game.” He is now writing new stories steadily, but slowly.

Gloria Frym is the author of two short story collections—Distance No Object (City Lights) and How I Learned (Coffee House Press)—as well as many volumes of poetry, including Mind Over Matter and Any Time Now. Her book Homeless at Home received an American Book Award. She currently chairs and teaches in the MFA in Writing program at California College of the Arts. The True Patriot, a collection of her prose, is due out in Fall 2015.

Novelist, screenwriter, and poet Barry Gifford’s most recent books include The Up-Down, Sailor & Lula: The Complete Novels, Imagining Paradise: New & Selected Poems and The Roy Stories. His film credits include Wild at Heart, Perdita Durango, Lost Highway, and City of Ghosts. His novel Night People was awarded Italy’s Premio Brancati, and he has received awards from PEN, the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Library Association, the Writers Guild of America, and the Christopher Isherwood Foundation. Gifford’s work appears in such magazines as The New Yorker, Punch, Esquire, La Nouvelle Revue Française, Film Comment, and Rolling Stone.

August Kleinzahler’s most recent collections of poetry are Sleeping It Off in Rapid City (Selected Poems), which won the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award, and Hotel Oneira, both from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. He is the author of two books of prose, Cutty, One Rock: Low Characters and Strange Places, Gently Explained and Music: I-LXXIV. Kleinzahler also edited the Selected Poems of Thom Gunn (2009). He is a regular contributor to the London Review of Books (where he’s written extensively about Lucia Berlin). In 2008, Kleinzahler won the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry. He walks in beauty like the night .

Jim Nisbet, a long-time friend of Lucia Berlin and an avid fan of her stories, has published twenty books including Lethal Injection, widely regarded as a classic roman noir, and Laminating The Conic Frustum, his sole non-fiction title. Current projects include a fourteenth novel, You Don’t Pencil, and a complete translation of Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal.

Michael Wolfe writes poetry and prose and produces documentary films. Twice a recipient of the Amy Lowell Traveling Poetry Scholarship, he was for many years the publisher of Tombouctou Books, a press based in Bolinas, California that published, among many other titles, Lucia Berlin’s second collection, Phantom Pain. His most recent book is a set of ancient Greek epitaphs in translation from Johns Hopkins University Press, Cut These Words into Stone. He lives with his wife in San Juan Bautista.

At the Book Club of California

 

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