Books from the Bay Area
The Seagull’s Gardener, by Pam Chun
(PAM CHUN, 2012, PP. 236, $14)
Hawaii-born and Alameda-based writer Pam Chun has penned her third book, a memoir about her father, Woody, a passionate and gentle gardener with an affinity for a certain seagull. Born Kwai Wood, Woody came of age in Territorial Hawaii, living for nearly a century, a wiry and exuberant force of nature with a zest for life and unfailing love of family until his death. Chun shares endearing details and touching observations about her father and herself, devoting a good bit of prose to the anguish and guilt boomers face as they must, as did she, care for an aging parent in a faraway place. There is a somber undertone to be sure, but Chun counteracts it with simple grace and dignity that elevates her father’s simple existence into an awesome one. From that higher plane, the author ultimately reflects on her father’s passing with a sense of warmth and fulfillment rather than cold and emptiness.
—Judith M. Gallman
Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do, Meredith Maran, ed.
(PLUME, 2013, PP. 256, $16)
Anyone who’s ever sat down to write a novel or even a story knows how exhilarating and heartbreaking writing can be. In this series of interviews by Oakland author Meredith Maran, well-known writers candidly share what they love and hate about their profession, what keeps them going in tough times, and even—truth or dare—whether they have day jobs. The award-winning author of nine nonfiction books and the 2012 novel, A Theory of Small Earthquakes, Maran clearly has more than a passing interest in her topic.
Some gems from the literati:
David Baldacci: “If writing were illegal I’d be in prison. I can’t not write. It’s a compulsion.”
Isabel Allende: “Every story is a seed inside of me that starts to grow and grow, like a tumor, and I have to deal with it sooner or later.”
Michael Lewis: “In the beginning, it was that sense of losing time. Now … I have the sense that I can biff the world a bit. I can exert a force.”
— Autumn Stephens