Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Love List #5: Beth Lisick

Beth Lisick is one of those writers who seems to have more energy, verve, wit, and humor than most of us could manage to contain without falling prey to spontaneous combustion. Her memoir, Everybody Into the Pool, galloped onto the New York Times bestseller list and garnered infinitely quotable praise like: "The tales veer from razor sharp to hilarious, and it's a voice--both offbeat and upbeat, wised-up yet curiously wholesome--that you're going to want to hear a lot more of." (Entertainment Weekly) Maybe it's lazy of me to use a well-worn blurb to describe her work to you, but it's the one that made me pick up her second book, Helping Me Help Myself, despite the fact that it sports three words that would normally send me running on its cover. (If you're curious, those three words are "self-help gurus.") It made me laugh. A lot.

Beth is ALSO a filmmaker, a spoken word performer, and one of the organizers of Porchlight, a very, very cool series of storytelling events in San Francisco (if you haven't been, GO!). She probably has any number of other extraordinary projects on the go at this very moment. She was kind enough to send me a really great list of titles (all of which I had NEVER heard of before, shame on me) with tempting descriptions of each book. To be tempted, please read on.

This is Beth Lisick


by: Vanessa Veselka (Red Lemonade)

Reading Zazen is an eerie experience because you feel like the author not only presaged the whole Occupy movement, but is also tucked inside the curl of a wave that hasn't even broken yet. An exciting and dynamic writer, Veselka gives her narrator Della soul to spare. I want to tell you this book is powerful politically and culturally, unless you think you hate that kind of thing, in which case I will tell you to read it for the compelling story, beautiful writing, and simultaneously funny/alarming take on what the world is coming to.

The Speed Chronicles
edited by: Joseph Mattson (Akashic)

The caveat is that I contributed a short story to this one, but I do not endorse all anthologies I have appeared in (or even all stories I have written for anthologies!). This one I really like. Edited by Joseph Mattson, who also has a great piece in the collection, these are stories about the drug speed. Some grim, some weirdly uplifting, all well-executed. Contributors include Sherman Alexie, Rose Bunch, James Franco, James Greer, and William T. Vollman, among many more.

Lola, California
by: Edie Meidav (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

This is a big old novel, gorgeously written, by a writer who knows how to layer a story. It's centered on the lives of women who were besties in their teens, re-entangled now that one of their fathers, a cult academic figure, is on death row. It's one doozy of a California book in the best possible way.

Still Standing 
by: Bucky Sinister (Conari Press)

Bucky has been writing and reading his poetry in San Francisco for the past 20 years. If you've ever caught one of his performances, you were probably impressed that someone so funny could also be so sad and profound. After many chaotic years of boozing and losing, Bucky cleaned up and has turned into one of the greatest spokespeople for sobriety. This follow-up to his book on getting clean (Get Up) is the perfect thing to give that newly sober person in your life who thinks 12 step is all about sitting around in a circle drinking burned coffee, eating stale donuts, and looking forward to that next cigarette.

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