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Unfortunate Diaries: Stories from Guantanamo and Other Lit Event Picks

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'Guantanamo Diary,' whose editor Larry Siem comes to Book Passage on Dec. 16.

Can you hear it… just around the corner? The heavy, trudging steps of red-stocking feet dangling with jingle bells and fear of failure? Underneath that, the click of a million credit cards clicking together to form a chorus of dread? Yes, Christmas is almost here. Which means that Bay Area lit events have slowed down to a small trickle.

Thankfully, 2015 best-of book lists continue popping up every day, enough to keep us entertained until things pick up again in 2016. I’m loving the Year in Reading series over at The Millions. At Buzzfeed, former San Franciscan Isaac Fitzgerald gives us the 24 Best Fiction Books of the year. Of course, there’s the New York Times10 Best Books of 2015. The Guardian’s Best Novels of 2015 includes lots of European writers, as is to be expected. If these endless lists reveal one thing, it’s this: 2015 was the year of Ferrante, Ferrante, and more Ferrante.

Still looking for a way to stay entertained during the dreary ramp-up to an El Niño winter? Here are a couple of upcoming events that might make getting wet worth your time.

Fourteen-Hills-coverTuesday, Dec. 15: Fourteen Hills Winter Issue Release Party at Dear Mom. Celebrate the latest issue of San Francisco State’s venerable literary journal Fourteen Hills. Expect a host of experimental, genre-bending, and wholly original writing, like this excerpt from Patrick Milian’s nonfiction piece “Eep,” in the latest issue.

“Yesterday I sat next to a woman who calmly, though diligently, wrote in her notebook without looking up for thirty minutes. She gently tore the pages out, folded them, and put them in the trash can before leaving. Of course I pulled the pages out. She had written “Sense of self Sense of self Sense of self Sense of self,” etc. She and I are pursuing similar endeavors. You and I are pursuing similar endeavors.”

Featured readers and contributors include Oakland poet Lisa Gluskin Stonestreet, Raina J. Leon, Dave Martin, Daniel Riddle Rodriguez, Ashley Nelson Levy, and Miah Jeffra. The event will begin with film projections by local artist Paul Clipson. Details here.


51XtlCDEWxL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Wednesday, Dec. 16: Larry Siems, editor of ‘Guantanamo Diary,’ at Book Passage. Despite Obama’s vows to shut down the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, where untold injustice continues to occur, the site remains open. Mohamedou Slahi has been “detained” there since 2002, even as a federal judge ordered his release back in March 2010. Around 2005, Slahi began keeping a diary, wherein he recounts his life before entering into U.S. custody, and details daily life at Guantanamo. The book has been described as a “vivid record of a miscarriage of justice, but a deeply personal memoir — terrifying, darkly humorous, and surprisingly gracious.” Joshua Rothman, in the New Yorker, called it a book that everyone should read. Larry Siems, a former director of Freedom to Write Programs for PEN USA, edited the diary and helped bring it to publication. Details here.

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