Bernal Literary Celeb Jandy Nelson Wins Fabulous 2015 Printz Medal

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Bernal Heights is thick with literary celebrities. You pretty much can’t throw a rock on our little rock without hitting someone who’s written a few brilliant books, or gotten some rave reviews, or won a closet full of writerly prizes. Because that’s the kind of glamorous we are.

So here’s a hot celebrity tip: The newest, most glamorous Bernal Heights literary superstar is Bernal neighbor Jandy Nelson.

Neighbor Jandy’s acclaimed young-adult novel, “I’ll Give You the Sun,” just won the Michael L. Printz Award, which “honors the best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit.”

Publisher’s Weekly (!!) describes the awesome tale of how she learned about the accolade:

Jandy Nelson had to keep a very big secret – for two whole days. Last Saturday she found out she’d won the Michael L. Printz Award for her second novel, I’ll Give You the Sun, but the announcements were not being made until Monday. “I was so taken by surprise when they called,” Nelson said, reached by phone at her home in San Francisco. “They must have thought they were giving the award to a raving lunatic. I remember hearing it was the Printz Committee, and then I started screaming. I remember they were all clapping, and that made me burst into tears. They said a lot of nice things about my book, and I screamed some more. It was one of the happiest, most exciting moments of my life.”

I’ll Give You the Sun is told through the alternating perspectives of twins Noah and Jude, which thread their way to the event that drove the once-close siblings apart. The author says the book took her three and a half years to complete. “It was very much like writing three novels in total,” she said. “I wrote Noah’s story start to finish, and I locked the file [that contained] Jude’s story. Then I wrote Jude’s story start to finish. I didn’t want their voices to blend. And I wanted each story to have its own propulsion so it would work when I combined them. Then the last year I spent interweaving their stories, and working on the book as a whole.”

Citizens of Bernalwood, you know the drill: If you see Neighbor Jandy in the ‘hood, please give her some robust congrats and make sure she gets a big high-five.

Sunday: World’s Most Awesome Book Editor and Producer Explains How the Magic Happens

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There comes a moment in every neighborhood blog editor’s career when he must embrace life’s conflicts of interest, face up to reality, and toss any pretense of objectivity aside like some sort of useless, depleted husk.

For your Bernalwood editor, that moment is right now…

Neighbor Leslie Jonath lives on Precita Avenue. She is a very talented book editor, producer, and packager who specializes in creating highly visual coffee table- and gift-style books that are both fun to read and gorgeous to look at.

In addition, she is your Bernalwood editor’s sweetie. In fact, we live together. In fact, we sleep together, and do the full gamut of life-partner activities together. In fact, as your Bernalwood editor writes this now, at 11:16 pm on Thursday night, he can even confirm — EXCLUSIVE SCOOP! — that Neighbor Leslie is downstairs at this very moment, watching her favorite legal-procedural drama on TV.

So, with all that fully and properly disclosed, Bernalwood is extremely proud to tell you that Neighbor Leslie will be giving a little talk at the Heartfelt Pop-Up Store at 301 Cortland on Sunday, November 16 at 4 pm to reveal how you go about creating beautiful coffee table-style books, and why (somewhat counter-intuitively) these kinds of books are now more popular than ever.

Neighbor Darcy Lee from Heartfelt says:

We are thrilled to announce that local author Leslie Jonath will be schooling us all on how to create a book, at Heartfelt’s newly curated Pop-Up location.

If you haven’t already heard Leslie’s the real deal!

Here’s a little more about her:

Leslie Jonath has been producing cookbooks, art books and kid’s books for over 20 years. Some of her favorite projects include The Pleasures of Slow Food, MietteThe Model Bakery Cookbook, Arts for the City, Postmark Paris, and The Dictionary of Extraordinary Ordinary Animals. Bee & Me, a book she co-wrote under the pen name, Elle j. McGuinness, sold over 150,000 copies. and was on both the New York Times best-seller list.

Before launching her book packaging company, Connected Dots Media, she was a creative director and editor at Chronicle Books for 18 years. Upcoming titles include three books on floral design, two cookbooks, and an inspirational journal called Give Yourself a Gold Star: Celebrating Life’s Little Achievements.

Yummy surprise refreshments will be served!

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PHOTO: Neighbor Leslie Jonath in Paris, by a totally biased Bernalwood editor

TONIGHT: Bernal Bard Neeli Cherkovski Kicks Off New Poetry Reading Series on Cortland

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Neighbor Notty Bumbo is launching a new monthly poetry reading series on Cortland that begins tonight, featuring special guest (and rockstar Bernal bard) Neeli Cherkovski.

Notty tells us:

Attention Bernal Poets: I am pleased to announce the start of the new Bernal Poets Reading Series! This will be a monthly event, held at The Bernal Star Cottage, 2nd Thursdays of each month from 7-9 PM.

The series will offer a featured poet followed by a round-robin style open reading, with a twist!

Be sure to arrive before 7 to sign up, to be sure you get your work heard. Our first event will happen Thursday, November 13, 2014, and our lead-off poet will be Bernal’s Own Neeli Cherkovski!

Books will be available to purchase. We are seeking Bernal poets to be our future featured readers, so please pass on any suggestions. Contact Notty Bumbo (atnottyb@bumpintheroad.net) for more details and suggestions! I look forward to seeing you there!

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PHOTO: Top, Neeli Cherkovski reading at City Lights June 2014. Photo by Steve Silberman

This Is the Tasty New Wine Book by Bernal Oenophile Alder Yarrow

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A while back, we told you about the book that celebrity oenophile (and Bernal Heights neighbor) Alder Yarrow was working on:

Neighbor Alder Yarrow is the founder and editor of the famous Vinography wine blog, and he’s launched a Kickstarter campaign to secure pre-orders for a coffee table book called “The Essence of Wine.”

Well now the fundraising is done, the words have been written, the pages have been proofed, and copies have been printed. Neighbor Alder’s book is finished, and wouldn’t you know it… it pairs nicely with a good glass of vino.

Here’s what the literary foodies from Omnivore Books in Noe Valley had say about it:

Alder Yarrow is widely regarded as the original and most influential wine blogger on the Internet. His award-winning site, Vinography, has been around for nearly 11 years, and in 2011, he was a finalist for the James Beard journalism award. Now after more than a decade online, Yarrow has turned his attention to print, marrying his eye for design and penchant for poetic writing into a 150-page hardcover coffee table book that celebrates the singular flavors and aromas found in wine.

Bernalwood got a taste of the book. We noticed that the layouts are sophisticated and well-balanced, with hints of exotic flavor:

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The photography is bold and exuberant, with earthy notes:

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Plus, with only 78 days remaining until Christmas, you may want to pick up a copy of “The Essence of Wine” for that special oenophile in your life. You can buy the book here, and don’t hesitate to boast that the author just happens to be one of your Bernal Heights neighbors.

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IMAGES: Courtesy of Alder Yarrow

 

Jack London Lived in Bernal Heights Before He Was Cool

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You might have noticed that Bernal Heights is today home to a rather impressive roster of fabulous writers and authors. All Bernalese can feel justifiably proud of our rich literary landscape, but Bernal Heights has been fertile ground for writerly genius for well over 120 years. For example, thanks to some impressive new research published by La Lengua’s rebel propagandist Burrito Justice, we now know Jack London once lived in Bernal Heights.

Yes, you read that correctly: Jack London once lived in Bernal Heights.

Okay, so Jack London was just one year old when he called Bernal home, and he didn’t live here for for long. Nevertheless, his later success provides clear proof that there’s something in the air in Bernal Heights that nurtures literary excellence.

Burrito Justice points to an excerpt from Irving Stone’s 1903 biography of Jack London:

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(Side Note: Jenny Prentiss does not appear to be the namesake for the Prentiss Street in Bernal today. That Prentiss was likely the Civil War hero General Benjamin Mayberry Prentiss.)

Anyway, if Jack London lived in Bernal Heights, Burrito Justice moves on to the obvious question:

But where in Bernal? Jack London was born on January 12, 1876, and John London married his mother either in September 1876 or February 1877.

The 1878 SF city directory gives a potential answer:

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Jack’s adopted father was John London, a Union veteran who married Jack’s mother Flora after Jack’s birth. But there are two John Londons! Which one? Also, how does 27th meet up with Harrison? And where is Gunnison Ave and Precita? And how does 28th have anything to do with Precita?

After some further sleuthing, we learn that Gunnison Avenue in Bernal Heights was a short stretch between Precita and Ripley that was contiguous with Harrison Street — until  1895 when it was renamed Harrison. But in this 1889 map, for example, the street was still called Gunnison Ave:

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So baby Jack London lived somewhere just south of Precita Park, along present-day Harrison Street, which today maps out like this:

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That’s just a quick summary of the evidence, but Burrito Justice dug up lots of fun stories and maps and historical geekery to identify where Baby Jack London lived when he lived in Bernal Heights. It’s fascinating stuff, and he did all the homework, so you absolutely must read the entire story on the Burrito Justice blog.

And from here on out, whenever you see some snot-nosed toddler being pushed around Precita Park in a stroller, just remember: That kid might just might turn out to be Bernal’s next Jack London.

IMAGES: Historical maps and text excerpts via Burrito Justice

Sunday: Bernal Author Chris Colin Talks About “What to Talk About” at Heartfelt (Plus: Fancy-Schmancy Ice Cream!)

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Celebrity author Chris Colin and his writing partner Rob Baedecker have written a ridiculously awesome book about the fine art of conversation that’s called “What to Talk About: On a Plane, at a Cocktail Party, in a Tiny Elevator with Your Boss’s Boss.”  It’s sort of a self-help book, and sort of a comedy book, and just enough of each to make it both entertaining and useful and useful and entertaining. I’ve read it, I learned from it, it cracked me up,  and I highly recommend it.

At the same time, Neighbor Chris and his writing partner Rob have honed the book-talk version of their spiel to such such a fine extent that their book talks are also wonderful as a stand-alone performance piece. It’s hilarious, and useful, and useful, and also hilarious, and you can see Neighbor Chris and his writing partner Rob do their live performance thing tomorrow, Sunday, Sept. 21 at 4 pm at the fabulous Heartfelt on Cortland.

Here’s the trailer, rich with celebrity cameos:

You really really really should attend this. On Sunday. At 4 pm. At Heartfelt. 436 Cortland. PLUS, Miss Darcy will be personally slinging scoops of fancy-schmancy ice cream from Humphry Slocumb, because that’s how she rolls:

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Tonight! The Language of Food: A Bernal Heights Linguist Reads the Menu

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Oh hey, did you catch that article in the dining section of yesterday’s New York Times about Bernal Neighbor Dan Jurafsky, and his new book on the linguistics of food?

I read the article over my morning coffee, but I didn’t know Dan lived in Bernal… until he reached out to me later in the day. Turns out, Dan Jurafsky is a celebrity neighbor! Love that.

Neighbor Dan’s new book is called The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu, and he’s doing a reading TONIGHT at 6:30 at the fabulous Omnivore Books at Cesar Chavez and Church in (scandalous gasp!) Noe Valley.

Neighbor Dan says:

I’m a Stanford professor and Bernal resident coming up on 10 years on Winfield street near the Esmeralda slides. Just letting you know that my trade book from Norton, “The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu” just came out this week and I’ll be talking about it at Omnivore Books in Noe Valley on Thursday night 9/18 at 6:30.

Here’s the publisher’s blurb:

Why do we eat toast for breakfast, and then toast to good health at dinner? What does the turkey we eat on Thanksgiving have to do with the country on the eastern Mediterranean? Can you figure out how much your dinner will cost by counting the words on the menu? In The Language of Food, Stanford University professor and MacArthur Fellow Dan Jurafsky peels away the mysteries from the foods we think we know.

Bernal and SF figure heavily in the book, from the SF history of Green Goddess dressing Pisco Punch, and Peruvian food to the tamales at La Oaxaquena, to showing how the meaning of the word “entree” has changed over time by analyzing some of the wording on menus of Bernal restaurants, to the linguistic significance of the rich Cantonese vocabulary for smells.

Sounds very tasty. Congrats, Neighbor Dan!

PHOTO: Dan Jurafsky by by Bernal photographer Kingmond Young