Davis writers have plenty of new books to brag about

October 17, 1999
Elisabeth Sherwin -- gizmo@ dcn.davis.ca.us

Nearly a dozen Davis writers have new books ready for publication this fall and winter including a where-are-they-now look at '60s musicians by two local editors.

The editors are Marti Smiley Childs and Jeff March, owners of EditPros in Davis. They have written "Echoes of the Sixties" (Watson-Guptill, 1999, $19.95), a 352-page paperback that tracks down the once-famous performers who recorded the memorable, but not necessarily always very good, tunes of the 1960s. Based on dozens of conversations with performers, talent agents, personal managers, and booking agents, the book includes the life stories of 43 individuals from Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs and The Beau Brummels to Gary "U.S." Bonds and Country Joe and the Fish. It is a sincere and respectful look at many people who were a lot more interesting then than now.

Next is the long-awaited memoir by Padma Hejmadi, "Room to Fly: A Transcultural Memoir" (University of California Press, 1999, $24.95). Hejmadi, who also writes under the name Padma Perera, has written what critics are calling "a unique journal tracing elusive contours of cultural perceptions East and West, welcoming us into the intimate geography of individual lives. Hejmadi explores the human spaces surrounding language, landscape, literacy and illiteracy, music, dance, legend, the cadence of ancient craft, and the ceaselessly unfolding layers of family relationships. (It's) part autobiography, part lively meditation."

Then there's the newest book by David Robertson, UC Davis English professor, which is "Narrow Way to Nearby" (Boise State University, 1999). Robertson's photography is featured in this magazine-style book, which is both an ecotourist's journal and a description of points along Putah Creek from the beginning to the end. Former Aggie Sean O'Grady was the editor of "Narrow Way to Nearby." It is part of Boise State University's Western Writers Series.

When Davis' best known science fiction writer, Kim Stanley Robinson, finished his landmark Mars trilogy a few years ago, he still had a little red planet left in his system. The result is "The Martians" (Bantam Spectra Book, 1999, $24.95), a 336-page hardback collection of stories, alternate histories, poems, and the complete text of a planetary constitution.

Early readers have suggested that "The Martians" is best appreciated by those who have read the trilogy ("Red Mars," "Green Mars," and "Blue Mars") and are familiar with the human characters who have colonized and terraformed the red planet over the course of several generations.

"When it's at its best," said one critic, "this collection presents stand-alone stories of life, love, and work on our celestial neighbor, ranging from the tale of an expedition seeking to conquer Olympus Mons in 'Green Mars' to a folksy story of friendship and baseball in 'Arthur Sternbach Brings the Curveball to Mars.' "

And Davis' fantasy writer has a new book out, too. In "Tamsin" (Roc, 1999, $21.95) Peter S. Beagle marks his return to full-length fantasy. His previous book was a collection of short stories, "Giant Bones" (1997). In "Tamsin," Jenny Gluckstein, a New York City teen-ager, moves to England with her mother, a musician, who has fallen in love with a British agronomist named Evan. Evan is hired to restore a rundown farm. The sullen Jenny is drawn to the old house and to the farm itself, full of dark woods and mysterious meadows. Jenny discovers a ghost, Tamsin Willoughby, who is marooned in a secret chamber. Because Tamsin's soul is uneasy, it haunts the farm where she died. To unhappy Jenny, Tamsin is a secret friend from whom she draws advice and solace. Critics are calling this a fine young adult novel.

"The Beautiful Christmas Tree" (Houghton Mifflin, 1999, $15) by Charoltte Zolotow has been reissued with new illustrations by Davis resident Yan Nascimbene. Nascimbene gives Zolotow's 1972 children story new life with his trademark delicate pen-and-watercolor illustrations, these in pale blue and tan.

While one critic says his vision is "rather austere and remote (and) even when the children assemble at the tree for its finest hour, the perspective is distant," another said his "vibrant color palette and fresh compositions" give a modern look to a holiday staple.

Nascimbene, a friendly man in real life, does give his children's books an austere and remote feeling, which his many fans love. You'll see this offbeat look repeated again in "Ocean Deep," which he both wrote and illustrated. It's a fabulous book (Creative Editions, 1999, $18) and one that is sure to win many awards both for the story and the illustrations.

But that's not all. Professor Ruth Rosen of UC Davis has written "The World Split Open: How the Modern Women's Movement Changed America" (Viking, $34.95, 2000) and Will Christopher Baer has written a sequel to his noir novel "Kiss Me, Judas" called "Penny Dreadful" (Viking, $22.95, 2000).

The Davis School. It's alive and well.

To inquire about ordering any of the above mentioned books from an independent bookstore,
Bogey's Books at discounted prices [ Click Here ]

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