Author Archives: Karen Laws
Michael Pollan, taking the stage at the 31st Annual Northern California Book Awards on Sunday June 10, accepted the Fred Cody Award for Lifetime Achievement with two caveats: first, he’s not that old. And second, he’s lived in California (on Berkeley’s north side) for only nine years.
The internationally renowned food activist, journalist, and author gave a humorous account of a reading he gave early in his career at Cody’s Books on Telegraph Avenue. Botany of Desire had just come out, and among the fans to hear him read was a woman in purple attire who repeatedly raised her hand during his presentation. When called upon, the woman objected to Pollan’s use of the word “pests” to describe aphids that attack plants. Doing a fine imitation of himself as the bemused young writer, Pollan recalled asking what term she might prefer. The woman’s lightning-quick reply? “Associate species.”
Sedge Thomson, who maintained admirable poise on crutches after breaking his ankle a few days earlier, emceed the awards ceremony. Thomson, a Berkeley resident, announced the names of finalists in six categories, beginning with Fiction and Poetry in Translation. The translators received applause from the audience at San Francisco Public Library’s Koret Auditorium before exiting stage right to await the verdict. … Continue reading »
When Joyce Jenkins, the editor of Poetry Flash magazine, wants to describe poet David Meltzer, she uses language evoking his love of jazz music and association with the San Francisco Beat and Berkeley Renaissance poetry movements: “He’s a colorful cat,” she said. “Nobody can riff like him.”
Meltzer is one of ten East Bay authors who will be honored this Sunday at the Northern California Book Awards ceremony in San Francisco. Michael Pollan will receive the Fred Cody Award for Lifetime Achievement, and winning books will be announced in a range of categories, from Young Adult to Creative Nonfiction. Besides Meltzer, whose When I was a Poet is in the running for the Poetry Award, the East Bay finalists are Barry Eichengreen, Sandra M. Gilbert, Adam Hochschild, Andrea Lingenfelter, Mary Mackey, Edie Meidav, Amy Reed, and Katherine Silver. The Poetry Flash-sponsored event has been held every spring for the past thirty years. … Continue reading »
The denizens of other cities can snicker all they like, but Berkeley historian Adam Hochschild has no problem with Berkeley’s foreign policy.
“If the citizens of Berkeley were in charge, our country would be better off,” he said when Berkeleyside reached him by phone to discuss his highly acclaimed book To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918.
Alongside telling excerpts from the diary of Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig, and vivid descriptions of what life was like for men in the trenches, To End All Wars presents the story of a one-woman diplomatic mission to Berlin in 1916 by British citizen Emily Hobhouse. Almost in the same breath, Hochschild described Hobhouse’s trip into the heart of enemy territory during wartime as “totally foolish” and “an extraordinarily noble thing.” In Berlin, Hobhouse met with the German Foreign Minister and other high-ranking officials. While failing to bring about the peace she hoped for, she came up with an idea for a civilian prisoner exchange that the two countries subsequently put into effect. … Continue reading »
“It’s important not to forget what happened in 2008 and remain angry,” says Barry Eichengreen, professor of economics and political science at UC Berkeley.
One of ten East Bay authors who will be honored at the Northern California Book Awards ceremony in San Francisco next month, Eichengreen has written and edited many scholarly books geared to specialists in his field. But the recent economic crisis left him feeling obliged to offer an explanation to people at large, rather than just his colleagues in academia. The result was Exorbitant Privilege: The Rise and Fall of the Dollar and the Future of the International Monetary System, which the Financial Times calls, “A rare combination of macroeconomic mastery, historical erudition, good political instincts and the sort of stubborn common sense that is constantly placing familiar problems in a new light.”
Could the book have been written somewhere else besides Berkeley? … Continue reading »
The East Bay Literary scene is heating up. Never before in the 31-year history of the Northern California Book Awards have the Fred Cody Award for Lifetime Achievement, plus ten nominations for book awards, all been given to East Bay writers.
The authors who have been nominated represent a wide range of disciplines, expertise, and artistic talent. They include: Barry Eichengreen, Adam Hochschild, Andrea Lingenfelter, Mary Mackey, Edie Meidav, Sandra Gilbert, David Meltzer, Michael Pollan (Fred Cody Award Winner), Amy Reed, and Katherine Silver.
Each week, from now until the June 10 Awards Ceremony, Berkeleyside will spotlight one of these writers. … Continue reading »