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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Michael Johnson on the new David Talbot book

Michael Johnson reviews David Talbot's new cultural history of San Francisco, Season of the Witch.  Says Michael, "For anyone who loves San Francisco, this is a must-read book. For anyone who is interested in the epicenter of the "culture wars" in Unistat, this book is essential. For anyone who loves to read well-researched history with a gripping narrative voice, this may be one you'll want to get to over the coming long hot summer nights."


michael said...

Thanks for the notice, Tom.

For RAW fans, a pretty decent-sized section of the book deals with San Francisco during the time that RAW lived there. In Schrodinger's Cat, where RAW comes up with words for sexual acts "A Steinem Job for his Rehnquist," note the terms Briggsing and Bryanting: John Briggs and Anita Bryant campaigned hard to get to try to get everyone to believe that gay schoolteachers are "perverting" our children. In San Francisco! They lost, but the story's in there.

There are other minute details of Bay Area cultural history that crept into RAW's books from between the time he moved back to California from Mexico, and before he left for Dublin in 1982. There are some clues to those in Talbot's book, too.

On page 103 on the omnibus edition of SCT, Taylor Street in SF shows up. RAW lived on Taylor Street. You can go see the place if you're in the area. The psychogeography in Talbot's book interacts with the psychogeography in the SCT. Patty Hearst is abducted from her Berkeley apartment not far from the campus. Today you can take a very short walk from that address to the physical background-tableu of SCT, pp.268-269, for example: Berkeley acid heads/Telegraph/Moe's book store (still my favorite bookstore in Berkeley), the Cafe Mediterraneum (which is still there...) Luna was murdered not far from there...People's Park, which Reagan had Ntl Guardsmen conduct an arial assault, is a 2-minute walk from Moe's...

gacord said...

Wow, I didn't realize that. Yet another way in which Joyce was always present in his writing. Fantastic.