January 3rd, 9am: A friend needs distraction from relationship troubles. “Here are all the places I can’t go because they remind me of him: The ocean. Green Apple Books. Oakland. Bernal Hill. That noodle place. San Francisco. Earth. I can’t eat a bagel or see the color blue or breathe oxygen.” I take her to a winery owned by a former Doobie Brother where we trick them into pouring us each two glasses of wine at 10am and then to a pioneer cemetery. Handling: 8.2/10
January 4th, 10:30pm: An ex-boyfriend texts me—unwarranted and apropos of absolutely nothing—a video montage he made set to sappy music of his current girlfriend and their two dogs playing on a beach. I text him back a video of my cat listening to Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” in the dark. Handling: 10.5/10
In 1851, six men landed on the Farallones, declared themselves owners by right of possession, formed a stock company, and began gathering murre eggs and selling them in San Francisco. The enmity between rival eggers grew to staggering proportions, culminating in the heartbreaking “Egg War” of 1863, during which two men were shot dead.
Before I had visited the Farralones, I had pictured them as the essential San Francisco. I imagined that they were the city stripped of superfluity, the city with its clothes off. But they didn’t feel as much to me like the city with its clothes off as like the city with its skin off. They were skeletal, the granite embodiment of King Lear howling in the storm—naked, terrifying, crazy.
-Gary Kamiya, from “Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco”
HERE ARE SOME EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENTS -
Tell your family. Tell your friends. Tell your local bookstores. Let me know if you want me to come to your town and try to sell your acquaintances books. Get Vivian Apple at the End of the World tattooed across your chest. Add it on Goodreads. I love you.
Vivian Apple at the End of the World. VIVIAN APPLE AT THE END OF THE WORLD.
Katie is the best and I am hashtag blessed to be able to hang out with her every Tuesday and read her stories about teen witches and outer space malls before everyone else does. She also gets as indignant as I do over basically everything (men who get applauded for translating stories into wingdings font, men who shame us about eating hummus in public, small pours of wine, people who don’t keep accurate score at literary trivia, etc.), which makes me feel a little less alone in the world. I’d say she’s the next J.K. Rowling but really she’s the first Katie Coyle, which is even better.
Buffalo Nat’l River, Arkansas / September 2013
Early morning in the fog of the Ozarks. Looking for the town of Rush, an old zinc mining town. If you want to believe what the locals tell you, it’s the only ghost town between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains.
My heart to him is like a pond to a crane: he wades round it, going in as far as he dares, and then attempts to snatch what little fish come shoreward from the center. — Jim Shepard, from “The World to Come”
Town of the Living Dead -
“Louisa is always around 1870, and I’m always around 1845, so we couldn’t mingle together, because I’m dead,” Henry explains to Nathaniel. “The delegates would say ‘Have you seen Louisa?’ and I’d say, “Oh, she’s a very little girl.”
“And they’d see me without Henry and ask ‘Have you seen Mr. Thoreau?’ and I’d say ‘Oh, how I miss him since he passed away,’” says Louisa.
“And the drunker the delegates got, the harder it became,” Thoreau adds. “I mean, they just didn’t really understand what we were doing there.”
This is amazing.