On the write track It’s full stream of consciousness ahead for Marin’s authors!
riting a book,” said George Orwell, “is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.” That’s exactly the kind of statement you’d expect from a guy whose
greatest works were about spirit-crushing totalitarian overlords. Luckily, bolshevism and fascism aren’t de rigueur for every writer—and with Marin’s melting pot of diverse prose pros, each year brings an eclectic mishmash of novels and memoirs, travelogues and histories, true ﬁctions and complete bullsh--s from a vast array of county
These two crosses, above and far left, are part of the 90-piece ‘The Merchant of Venus’ an installation Kokin made from self-help book spines.
scribes. So here’s our latest roundup of page turners from the county’s ink slingers—who, according to the author of 1984, are likely still recovering from their bout of painful illness.
Journey to the center of the terse Navigating the Course: A Man’s Place in His Time by David Fanshel. Valley Meadow Press. 250 pages. $25 Unlike a number of current memoir writers who haven’t lived long enough to reﬂect on their life experiences (Justin Bieber comes to mind), David Fanshel was busy living a productive life as a husband, father and professor at Columbia University’s School of Social Work, so he didn’t get around to writing about his youth and young adulthood until he was well into his 80s. Though he published numerous books during his professional career, this memoir is his ﬁrst foray into the personal realm. A well-respected, retired academic whose studies of at-risk children earned him a Secretary’s Commemorative Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Fanshel (who lives at The Redwoods in Mill Valley) describes growing up in a family of Eastern European immigrants in the Bronx during the Depression, and how that formed his narrow world-view. The second half details his experiences in the Army Air Corps during World War II and their impact on his life. Fanshel, not even 20 at this point, recounts—in an amusing and at the same time astonishing manner—the events leading up to his pilot-training assignment, in spite of 12 PACIFIC SUN JANUARY 7 - JANUARY 13, 2011
But like we always say, Orwell’s that ends well.—Jason Walsh his lack of aptitude for it and the fact that he’d never even driven a car or any other vehicle! Turns out he wasn’t really cut out for that, but he did play a signiﬁcant role as the navigator with the 15th Air Force 450th Bomb Group, 722nd Squadron, in Manduria, Italy, which ﬂew 39 missions across Europe. The wartime events—knowing the plane could be shot down, causing mayhem and destruction to others—formed a bond among the squadron that had a profound and transformative effect on the man Fanshel became. Readers unfamiliar with the insular nature of life in the Bronx at that time, where many of the Jews who ﬂed czarist Russia settled and had little or no contact with the “outside world,” will identify with the initial “fear” and then acceptance of (or more accurately, trusting of one’s life to) “the other.” Through this very personal account, Fanshel leaves readers thinking about the causes and effects of war, which he calls the “ultimate absurdity.”—Carol Inkellis
Citizen Moxie Pure Moxie: A Memoir by Leda Sanford. iUniverse, Inc. 125 pages. $13.95 Such a slim volume for someone who’s
led such a long and interesting life (after all, Miley Cyrus’s autobiography is 288 pages)—then you realize Pure Moxie is no doubt just like the author: smart, funny, candid, to-the-point and, of course, slender. Leda Sanford, 77, became the ﬁrst woman publisher of a major American magazine when she was named head of American Home in 1975. Although she was able to redirect the staid old publication toward the “liberated woman” and circulation rose, Sanford was unable to save it, and within a couple of years the magazine folded into Redbook. Sanford was only just beginning though, and her memoir recounts her ups and downs in running periodicals such as Chief Executive, Attenzione and Modern Maturity. Along the way there were affairs with married men, conﬂicts with co-workers, family issues and meals in some really fancy restaurants. She skips the boring bits—there is no droning on about cost per thousand or shipping rates. And in the end she falls in love with Sausalito. The result is a book that is both a nostalgic look back (it’s dedicated to Betty Friedan) at the post-Mad Men era—when General Motors and magazines were a big deal—and a nod toward the future, especially for increasingly creaky baby boomers, as Sanford became something of a visionary on promoting a new idea of aging and re-invention late in life. One thing is clear: If you happen to see Leda Sanford at a luncheon, do what you can to get a seat next to her. She is fearless when she tells her tales.—J.E. Vader
The prodigal dotter Lots of Dots written and illustrated by Craig Frazier. Chronicle Books. $15.99 Celebrated graphic designer and illustrator Craig Frazier, a longtime Mill Valley resident, has received recognition and numerous awards over the years for his wide-ranging body of work. Back in 2004 he released his ﬁrst children’s book, the award-winning Stanley Goes for a Drive. Since then, in addition to creating logos, packaging, brochures and illustrations for nationally and internationally known companies (too numerous to mention) and respected publications (including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, among many others), plus designing several stamps for the U.S. Postal Service, Frazier has published two more award-winning Stanley books. But with Lots of Dots, his newest children’s title, Frazier heads off in a new direction, appealing to children and adults of all ages with a simple yet engaging and colorful look at dots in our everyday world. Fun to look at and read, the crisp, bright, large illustrations and simple verse encourage the child in all of us to consider the round shapes we encounter daily but often don’t notice. And, of course, it allows readers (or, more likely, those being read to) the opportunity to think of and name 14 >
Section 1 of the January 07. 2011 edition of the Pacific Sun Weekly