You are currently browsing the daily archive for August 13, 2010.

Dave Eggers

NEW YORK — Dave Eggers and Amiri Baraka are among the winners of the 31st annual American Book Awards, given for literary works that cover “the entire spectrum of America’s diverse literary community.”

Amiri Baraka

Eggers was cited for “Zeitoun,” a novel set in post-Katrina New Orleans, and Baraka for “Digging: The Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music.”

More than a dozen winners were announced Thursday, including Sesshu Foster’s “World Ball Notebook” and Victor Lavelle’s “The Big Machine.”

The awards were established in part by author-poet-playwright Ishmael Reed. There is no cash prize.

Read more:

The complete list, from

Amiri Baraka, Digging: The Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music University of California Press)

Sherwin Bitsui, Flood Song (Copper Canyon Press)

Nancy Carnevale, A New Language, A New World: Italian Immigrants in the United States, 1890-1945 (University of Illinois Press)

Dave Eggers, Zeitoun (McSweeney’s/Vintage)

Sesshu Foster, World Ball Notebook (City Lights)

Stephen D. Gutierrez, Live from Fresno y Los (Bear Star Press)

Victor Lavalle, The Big Machine (Spiegel & Grau)

François Mandeville, This Is What They Say, translated from the Chipewyan by Ron Scollon (University of Washington Press)

Bich Minh Nguyen, Short Girls (Viking)

Franklin Rosemont and Robin D.G. Kelley, editors, Black, Brown & Beige: Surrealist Writings from Africa and the Diaspora (University of Texas)

Jerome Rothenberg and Jeffrey C. Robinson, editors, Poems for the Millennium: Volume Three: The University of California Book of Romantic & Postromantic Poetry (University of California Press)

Kathryn Waddell Takara, Pacific Raven: Hawai`i Poems (Pacific Raven Press)

Pamela Uschuk, Crazy Love: New Poems (Wings Press)

Lifetime Achievement:

Quincy Troupe

Katha Pollitt


From the press release:
“The American Book Awards were created to provide recognition for outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America’s diverse literary community. The purpose of the awards is to recognize literary excellence without limitations or restrictions. There are no categories, no nominees, and therefore no losers. The award winners range from well-known and established writers to underrecognized authors and first works. There are no quotas for diversity, the winners list simply reflects it as a natural process. The Before Columbus Foundation views American culture as inclusive and has always considered the term “multicultural” to be not a description of various categories, groups, or “special interests,” but rather as the definition of all of American literature. The Awards are not bestowed by an industry organization, but rather are a writers’ award given by other writers.”

The awards ceremony will be on Sunday, September 19th, from 1:00-4:00 p.m. at the Koret Auditorium, San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin Street (at Grove), San Francisco, CA. A reception will take place following the ceremony. This event is open to the public. For more information, call (510) 642-7321.

See you there!


Chris Kraus writes this about George Porcari, for a 2009 exhibit she curated in NYC:

Porcari’s remarkable body of work spans almost four decades. Born in Lima, Peru in the 1950s, he emigrated to Los Angeles at age 11 and began taking photographs ten years later to record his own sense of dislocation. In subsequent years, Porcari went on to document his observations of cities (New York, Chicago, Europe, Latin America) through occasional series of photographs, which have also included cinematically- inspired collages, portraits of Los Angeles/international artist friends, the US-Mexican border, and still-lives of an intensely-curated assortment of books.

Porcari attended art school in New York and Los Angeles, but rather than pursue a gallery career he became a professional librarian: a vocation that has allowed him to pursue his wide range of idiosyncratic interests. Describing himself as a ‘photo-journalist,’ Porcari’s visual vocabulary is equally informed by Bresson, Robert Frank, and Vladmir Nabokov. His images are bracingly realistic and incidentally lyrical.
Writing about Porcari’s work, the novelist Veronica Gonzalez has noted “a sense of possibility mixed in with regret … for all these images exist in the present, the present of the work, a desire for cohesion, perhaps enacted here.”

Porcari’s writes this in an essay about his friend, sculptor Jorge Pardo:

“I drove a drunken Pardo home through the dark pretty streets of a forest. We were in a wealthy suburb outside San Francisco where there were no street signs no lights and no visible homes, just trees and the broken white line barely visible with our headlights. One decent thing about money is that your life can belong to you in a way that is not possible without it. I wasn’t being morally superior to these people. Sooner or later we are all “Orlando’s” in this world. But most of us never get much in return for it. At
most a job we can tolerate. Riding home in the dark I could see myself in a nice house with a pool Penny and a couple of high maintenance bitches. What would I do to get such things? How far would I go? I’m a lazy Tupac Amaru. And as for Penny – not a chance – and high maintenance bitches? I donʼt think so. Jorge explained his idea by drawing on a napkin and speaking with total seriousness:
-Taking steel cable you could pull the front of the ready teller with you car.
-YOUR car maybe I’m not pulling anything. Anyway with this fucking car you wouldnʼt even be able to pull a trash can much less a cash machine. Anyway the idea is crazy.
-But why?
-Because we’d be shot!
Jorge’s idea of “hitting” a ready teller machine reminded me of Ronnie a drifter I met on a warehouse job in L.A. in the early seventies. His retirement plan was to hold up a liquor store and to keep doing it until he was killed or got caught and sent to prison. He reminded us that prison wasn’t so bad because you get fed regularly, and the bad stuff you just get used to, like anything else. I believed him but being a young man I figured on doing better. To his credit he didn’t hold that against me. Jorge and I laughed at Ronnie down Market St. but my laughter was considerably less certain than Jorge’s. Downtown San Francisco is over illuminated with yellow street lights and the Victorians seemed theatrical and sinister; Market looked like a street where people were supposed to motorvate but there was no one there except for us. It was so quiet you could hear the sound of electricity running along the sheltering ceiling of wires over the street. After a few blocks in front of a concrete and glass Burger King we saw three prostitutes who looked right through us as if we were invisible. They could see we were broke. When a cab drove by they would get all sexy and start to walk like they were models in some dream fashion show. We were staying in separate places so we said good-by and I go out and turned towards the Haight – I got very popular passing out quarters to all the bums. Some of these people were hippies that time had forgotten. They had become middle aged and had lost their luck.”

August 2010