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Karen Silver

Culture, Books Bridgework


The first book I acquired as an editor was an illustrated edition of Pablo Neruda's Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, with a translation by the renowned poet W.S. Merwin. It was an English-only version -- I decided,…
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Culture, Books One Book, One State

One Book, One State

It would begin with a committee. A secret group of well-meaning literary types -- booksellers, librarians, and academics -- would get together to choose the "right" book for all of San Francisco to read at once, in the spirit of…
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Culture, Books Machine Love

Machine Love

After I quit my first university and before I enrolled in my second, I took a year off and lived at home, working and taking what I thought would be Mickey Mouse classes at the local junior college: creative writing,…
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Culture, Books Read and Gone

Read and Gone

Los Angeles has the L.A. Times Festival of Books, which attracted about 120,000 people last year. New York Is Book Country lures more than a quarter of a million. There are dozens of such events around the country, from Denver…
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Calendar, Night&Day Language of Love

Language of Love

Until the Inquisition, Spain was home to a thriving community of Jews, who lived in relative peace as scholars and merchants alongside Muslims and Christians. Like everyone else, they spoke Spanish, but after they were expelled in 1492 their medieval…
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Calendar, Night&Day Word Up

Word Up

As Mark Twain (see Thursday) once wrote, "The difference between the almost-right word and the right word is really a large matter -- it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning." We've all been struck by that lightning…
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Culture, Books Virtual Gutenberg

Virtual Gutenberg

Above Jack London Square's Bed Bath & Beyond, where you can buy a floral photo album for $9.99, a small band of dedicated book-lovers works to preserve some of the most valuable volumes in existence. Octavo Corp. and its staff…
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Calendar, Night&Day Printed Matter

Printed Matter

Once upon a time, pundits declared that technology would transform literature. Dan Okrent, editor at large of Time Inc., declared in a December 1999 lecture: "I believe ... all forms of print are dead." The Internet would kill printed magazines,…
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Culture, Books Cult of Personality

Cult of Personality

Like the Bible, the books of Edward R. Tufte are much discussed but little read. None of his three most popular books -- all covering the subject of the first's title, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (1983) -- takes…
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Culture, Books Speaking Volumes

Speaking Volumes

It's always fun to go to a museum exhibition and step into a pile of steaming controversy. This time the show in question -- "Artists' Books in the Modern Era 1870-2000" at the Legion of Honor -- is a lovely…
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Culture, Books Checkout


Walking the aisles of my neighborhood Safeway at Church and Market streets, I turned the corner from the frozen orange juice and found an enormous book section. I knew that most supermarkets and drugstores carry a small rack of books,…
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Calendar, Night&Day Facing East

Facing East

All around the city, yellow posters reading "San Francisco Is a Hate-Free Zone" have sprouted on storefronts. While the signs are a useful way to resist a backlash against Arab-Americans and Muslims, perhaps a better way to connect across cultures…
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Calendar, Night&Day On Your Toes

On Your Toes

The Bay Area is home to so much good dance that it can be hard to choose from among the many top-notch offerings. But this week presents a stellar collection of works from the American Ballet Theater, a company that…
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Culture, Books Do You  Read Me?

Do You Read Me?

Most people simply read books, but I like to smell them. New books are the best: Slightly sweet and enticingly chemical, they reek of glue and ink and other mysterious binding fluids. The stink of old books is musty and…
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News, Dog Bites

Dog Bites

If there was one thing the ongoing battle over whether to build a new power plant in southeast San Francisco didn't need, it was more combustible figures in its mix. After all, the public workshops and hearings on expanding the…
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News, Feature Filmed on the Body

Filmed on the Body

Like life, good film festivals have a rather dull unifying force and lots of fascinating satellite themes. The 44th annual SFIFF is no different: Though its grand scheme purports to be international, its American films are among its best, and…
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Calendar, Night&Day Him Talk Pretty This Day

Him Talk Pretty This Day

David Sedaris is best heard out loud. Though his books are certainly funny to read -- among them the vicious Barrel Fever and the painfully comic Naked -- Sedaris' humor shines best through his voice. High-pitched, deadpan, and mildly Southern…
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Calendar, Night&Day That's <i>Mrs.</i> Grandma  to You

That's Mrs. Grandma to You

Don't worry about me. No, really. I'll just sit here in the dark, watching "young independent Jewish filmmakers look at Grandma," a collection of three shorts now screening at Yerba Buena. All three together take just over an hour to…
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