In the Bay Area section of today’s New York Times, astute readers will find an article about author Peter Orner, a member of the Bernalwood literati glitterati:
Among writers, Mr. Orner is a boldface name. Since his debut collection, “Esther Stories,” was published in 2001 to rave reviews, he has continued to rack up plaudits: a Guggenheim fellowship, two Pushcart Prizes, and space in esteemed publications like Granta, The Atlantic and Ploughshares. He has also done two oral histories for McSweeney’s Voice of Witness series; Harper’s called “Hope Deferred,” his 2010 book about life in Zimbabwe, one of the most important books about that country in 30 years.
Compared with other Bay Area literary stars, “Peter’s name is overlooked by the general reading public,” said Oscar Villalon, managing editor of Zyzzyva, a literary journal that will be publishing one of Mr. Orner’s stories this spring. “If he lived in Brooklyn, he’d be the type of guy who’d be feted by The Paris Review, The New Yorker. His work is that good.”
Since we don’t want Peter Orner to leave Bernal and move to Brooklyn, perhaps he could get a similar career boost by simply *pretending* he lives in Brooklyn; say, by wearing trucker’s caps and riding a fixie. But his best hope probably lies in the new book he has coming out:
Things could change with his latest novel, “Love and Shame and Love,” which is scheduled to arrive in stores next week. Publishers Weekly called the book “vibrant and captivating.” In a nod to current publishing realities, Mr. Orner is working with a social media consultant, has put out a video trailer that stars Ed Asner and has garnered blurbs from literary stars like Daniel Handler to promote his book.
“It was a book that I had to write, knew I would always write, in some ways resisted writing, “ Mr. Orner said, clutching a ceramic cup at a local coffee shop near his home in the Bernal Heights section of San Francisco. “I definitely put everything I had into it.”
PHOTO: Peter Orner in Precita Park. Photo by the Adithya Sambamurthy/The Bay Citizen