Show Her a Flower, a Bird, a Shadow

Peg Alford Pursell is one of the writers whose work I’ve been following for some years, having met her when she moved to the Bay Area and became a regular, for a time, at the San Francisco Writers Workshop. It’s a particular pleasure to hold in my hands a book that I feel I already know intimately, from having seen some of the stories in drafts, from knowing the author’s aesthetic and using that as a jumping off point into the reading. my-book-cover-in-this-size-2_2_0

But what if the book proves to be too familiar, too well-known, its movements too predictable? Will the writer still surprise, like a partner after many years of marriage? The risk is high, and the reward — oh the reward. Being allowed into the inner world of another human being, being encouraged to examine the corridors of her heart, laid out in all of their complexity, the dizzying sensation of falling into the words as into a looking glass.

Show Her a Flower, a Bird, a Shadow delivers all that. I’m about halfway through. Looking at its cover, I thought of describing it as baroque for a kind of exuberance in the detail of the bird and the petals. Such a perfect cover to this book, where the sparseness of language coexists with sudden proliferation, of streamlined sentences opening unexpectedly into luxurious, and soaring, flourishes.

The Courtyard in the Mirror

The Courtyard in the Mirror [“Der Hof im Spiegel”]

by Emine Sevgi Özdamar

Translated by Leslie A. Adelson

I thought she had died. I was standing in the kitchen with my back against the radiator, waiting for the sad light in her room, in the house across the way, where she lived, to go on in the large mirror that was attached to the wall over my kitchen table. For years her light from the house on the other side of the courtyard had been my setting sun. Whenever I saw her lighted window in the kitchen mirror, and only then, I turned on the light in my apartment. Now I was standing in the dark and had a cookie in my hand, but wasn’t eating it. I was afraid I would make too much noise. If she had died

Read the rest of this beautiful story in UC Berkeley’s magazine Transit.

Peninsula Literary on March 17

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About Featured Readers

Olga Zilberbourg is a bilingual author; born in St. Petersburg, Russia, she
lives in San Francisco. Her third book of stories was published in Russia in
2016. Her English-language fiction has appeared in World Literature Today,
Tin House’s Open Bar, Narrative Magazine, and other print and online
publications. Her story “Love & Hair” recently won The Willesden Herald
International Short Story Award that she received in London, UK. Olga serves
as a co-moderator of the weekly San Francisco Writers Workshop.

David Denny’s most recent book is a collection of short fiction, The Gill Man in
Purgatory. He is also the author of two poetry collections: Man Overboard and
Fool in the Attic. Recent stories and poems have appeared in The Sun, Rattle,
California Quarterly, Catamaran, Spillway, and Chiron Review. David teaches
in the English Department at De Anza College in Cupertino, where he also
served as inaugural Poet Laureate from 2011-2013. When not teaching or
writing, he paints, hikes, reads, and enjoys classic studio-era movies. Check
out his web site at www.daviddenny.net.

Find out more about Gallery House artist Rozanne Hermelyn Di Silvestro at
http://wordpress.hermelyn.com/wordpress/

The Catography of Others

Catherine McNamara is a uniquely gifted writer, able to translate her amazing travel and life experiences into thought-provoking fiction. I’ve read some of Catherine’s work, and I’m delighted to welcome her upcoming book, The Cartography of Others. It’s being crowdfunded by a UK-based press, Unbound. This promises to be a super cool campaign with some awesome pledges — how about an opera date in Verona?

The Cartography of Others is a collection of twenty stories that take place from fumy Accra to the Italian Dolomites, from suburban Sydney to high-rise Hong Kong. Lives are mapped, unpicked, crafted, overturned. Each story inhabits a location that becomes as vital as the characters themselves, men and women who are often far from home, immersed in unfamiliar cultures, estranged from those they hold dear. Love is panicked, worn, tested.

There’s a cool book video, too.

https://unbound.com/books/the-cartography-of-others

Olga’s Book Party: 2 pm on February 25

Dear San Francisco friends — to celebrate the publication of my collection of stories (Хлоп-страна, Moscow, 2016), I’m planning a book party at Alley Cat Books at 2 pm on February 25, 2017.  The book is in Russian, but to celebrate its release with my San Francisco peers, the party will be in English, dedicated to exploring how Russian literature and Russian themes have acted within the global, and more specifically, American context. Russian literature offers a long tradition of resistance—to the tsar, to the Communist regime, to the new age of hybrid warfare. Come join the conversation! Для тех, кто читает по-русски, у меня есть экземпляры книги и ещё что-то вкусное..

Guest readers presenting their original work include Anthony Marra, Yanina Gotsulsky, Anastasia Edel.

The formal part of the afternoon will be followed by a participatory reading. Sign up for a chance to read five to seven minutes of material, English originals or excerpts from your favorite 20th or 21st Century Russian-language writers in English translation. To sign up, please send me a note (bowlga at gmail).

Oh, and… This is happening the day after my birthday—there will be cake!