Pulitzer Prize-winning author pens poignant new novel
Literary maven Jane Smiley is no stranger to fame. She has published four works of non-fiction and 13 novels (including the critically acclaimed “A Thousand Acres” which I read in my American Authors class while studying English in college and promptly fell in love with her writing) in the time that many people take to decide where to travel for summer vacation. Her latest literary foray is entitled, “Private Life,” an illuminating new novel that spans the life of an ordinary woman married to an extraordinary yet self-indulgent man. Or so she thinks. The 20th century has just dawned and Margaret Early, a native of St. Louis, Mo., blithely marries the man her mother chooses for her, and resigns herself to be a dutiful housewife. Her secretive new husband moves her to Northern California, where she endures two world wars, the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and myriad personal tragedies. Little does she know of the trials and tribulations she will endure as the wife of a Navy captain that fancies himself a scientist of the highest degree. What begins as a marriage based on convenience and security turns into a prison sentence, and Smiley’s lyrical prose explores the life of one woman who lives a life she grows to loathe. To outside observers, Margaret’s existence seems charmed, but on the inside, turmoil and unhappiness threaten to disarm her will to live.
Terry McInerney’s strong, fashionable handbags make a dent in Santa Cruz
There are days in life when fate waits around the corner for you. For Terry McInerney, that is how success manifested in her life. Early last year, McInerney, a married Santa Cruzan with two children, was out shopping with her young daughter. They stepped into a local store and her daughter started chatting up a patron, someone she recognized from swimming lessons. “She told her, ‘My mom makes bags,’” McInerney says of her daughter, who turned out to be quite a marketing genius.
Local women’s kindness-based card game is worth the shuffle
Just like a boomerang, what you put out into the world will come back to you. This is the creed of the Boom Boom Revolution, a movement for kindness that erupts from two local women and their card game.
Co-founded by local duo Mary Beth Campbell and Helene Scott, the revolution is fueled one kind notion at a time, via the original card game entitled “Boom Boom Cards; The intentional Acts of Kindness Kit.”
Indie adult film star Madison Young teaches Santa Cruzans how to take erotic filmmaking into their own hands
Pornography has always gone hand-in-hand with the idea of “doing it yourself,” but never more so than in the present era. The Digital Revolution has made it relatively easy for Joe and Jo Blow to not only produce and star in their own naughty movies, but also to show those movies to the world at large if they so desire. As a result, Independent internet porn now threatens to topple the DVD-based mainstream adult film industry in the same way that digital audio encoding has dealt a fatal blow to major record labels.
Editor’s note: In this week’s Poetry Corner, we feature the work of D. A. Powell, the author of “Tea,” “Lunch,” and “Cocktails,” which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry. His most recent collection, “Chronic,” was also a finalist for the NBCC Award, and was named a best book of 2009 by Publishers Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and other publications, and won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. He teaches at the University of San Francisco and lives in the Bay Area. The following selected poems, written by D. A. Powell are: “confessions of a teenage drama queen,” “early havoc,” and “he’s a maniac, maniac” from “Chronic,” © 2009. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minn., graywolfpress.org.
The Pacific Rim Music Festival combines musical masterminds from across the ocean
Any musician knows that collaborating with fellow musicians in your own town can be hard enough, but just imagine collaborating with musicians on a different continent. Fortunately, we live in a world in which compositions can now be swiftly sent across the Web in the form of Mp3s so that innovative fusions of culture and sound are possible. Take for instance, the Pacific Rim Music Festival (PRMF).
In its fourth installation since its inception in 1996, this year’s festival combines instruments and techniques of the Orient with those of the West. The Korean 12-string zither-like gayageum, the two-string fiddle (haegeum), the bamboo flute, the mouth organ, the bamboo oboe, Korean percussion, and the Indonesian gamelan tradition will find themselves embraced by Western performers and modern nuances—classical European strings, and even electric guitars, will be infused.
New local theater company debuts popular play
A group of young thespians brings death, disease, poverty, and sexual taboo to Santa Cruz at the end of April via their debut performance of the film and Broadway sensation, “RENT.”
“RENT” flutters into town on the wings of Phoenix Rising, a nascent theater group branching off of the local Kids on Broadway children’s theater group. The group was created to give young adults a space to perform that was attached to Kids on Broadway but branched away from the label of “children’s theater.” “RENT,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning rock opera written by Jonathan Larson and based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera “La Boheme,” is littered with inarguably deep, heavy, adult, and mature content. The plot outlines one year in the life of a group of young bohemians struggling with love, loss, and AIDS in modern day New York.
Daniel Arnold’s ‘Early Days in the Range of Light’ goes back in time to discover, firsthand, the early mountaineers
The premise is simple, the execution grand. Take nearly a dozen or so early pioneers of California mountaineering and tread in the echoes of their bootsteps. Follow them up the peaks that defined them, separated only by time itself. Sounds easy, right?
Almost forgot to mention: No Gore-tex, GPS or nylon ropes allowed. If these early mountaineers went solo, so shall you. If they had to roll their meager possessions up into a blanket and tie it off with an old rope as Clarence King did, then you too will leave your backpack at home. Like John Muir, you will chase away hunger with bread crusts and tea. As for maps … what maps? You will bed atop a layer of dead pine needles, shivering under the stars and storms without a tent. With the invention of DEET still decades away, mosquitoes will sing you to sleep. And you will come to know the Sierra like you have never known it before.