in Praise of Pippi

My family and I are trading houses with a family in southern Sweden this summer, and, in preparation, I was searching for some leads on Swedish literature (aside from the obvious Stieg Larsson).  And my kids are at the age when they're leaning away from picture books and into chapter books--things like Ramona the Brave, Homer Price, and Ivy and Bean have been big hits of late.  Which led us to Pippi Longstocking.

Now Pippi has always been somewhere in my cultural memory, but I had yet to read this book until last week.  Don't make the same mistake.

If you:

  • have kids ages 5-7, read this to them.
  • have kids ages 8-10, buy it (or get it from the library) for them.
  • ever read youth literature, treat yourself to this wonderful book.
Why?  It's jolly good fun.  

Pippi is a young girl living with no parents, just her horse and monkey.  She possesses superhuman strength, and she often mocks convention (which the kids will love, of course).  She's fiercely loyal to her next-door neighbor kids, Tommy and Annika, and she leads them on a series of adventures that are a joy to follow.

I'm not sure what this book's central place on lists of Swedish literature says about the Swedish people, but I'm looking forward not only to our visit this summer, but to the next two books in Pippi's series.

Two New Books I Really Like (With Pictures)

It's been a bit of a whirlwind day/week/month here at Green Apple, and sort of in my life, too. So perhaps it's in search of some simplicity that now, sitting down to blog, all I want to do is tell you all about two of my favorite new books, and to show you what beautiful pictures they have. Don't be fooled, though -- though both of these books are heavily illustrated in some form, they are Very Serious (but oh so delightful) Books. 

The first is Antigonick, the hotly anticipated (er, hotly anticipated by me) new translation/interpretation of  Sophocles' tragedy by the incomparable Anne Carson (and published, beautifully, by New Directions). Re-working a classic tale is nothing new for Carson, a classical scholar whose work often either references, re-tells, or analyzes ancient Greek literature, but her particular style of translation is so unique, poetic and adaptive that it must be read as poetry all its own (creative liberties included -- as in her previous work, Carson often alters the spellings of characters' names and broadens the restrictions of space and time, allowing her, in this case, to reference to Samuel Beckett and Virginia Woolf in the first five pages of a story from 440 BCE.) What really makes this book a lovely object to leaf through, though, is Bianca Stone's beautiful accompanying illustrations, done on translucent pages that overlap Carson's handwritten text. Turning each page feels something like dusting off a relic. 

Despite its modern voice, its wit and its aesthetic charm, Carson is not one to make the tragedy of Antigone easy on the casual reader. And in case you're not familiar, it's a doozy. If you are familiar with Greek tragedy at all (SPOILER ALERT for every Greek tragedy), it won't surprise you to know that pretty much everybody kills themselves by the end, while the Chorus doth protest and mourn and hem and haw. It's great, in a way best summed up by this page:

As Simon Critchley once wrote, "tragedy is like Guinness. It's not supposed to be good for you."

My other favorite book of late is my new kids' "staff favorite", and has been nearly impossible for me to talk about without forcing whatever patient listener I've tricked into listening into full-blown story time mode -- every picture must be shown, every detail of the adventure recounted. Its debatable classification as a kids book aside, this beautifully (and not particularly briefly) written book also has its roots in the oldest of stories, a journey fit for its own Joseph Campbell PBS special. The book is Taka-Chan and I, originally published in 1967 and now in a re-issued edition by the NYRB Children's Collection. It's narrated by Runcible, a Weimerarmer who, according to his author bio, is a firm believer in broadening international understanding ("The world would be a better place if more dogs would travel", Runcible says.) He knows, because, according to this story, he once dug a hole all the way from his home on the beaches of Cape Cod to Japan, where he met a little girl named Taka-Chan. This and all of the adventures that follow are documented in the stunning photography of Eiko Hosoe, and, well, c'mon. Look at this pair and just try not to be charmed to smithereens. 



Turns out, Taka-Chan is being held captive by a fearsome sea dragon. In order to free her, Runcible must find the most loyal creature in all of Japan and lay a flower at his feet. The challenge is accepted, the quest begins. 

I won't give away the ending, but let's just say this is a hero's journey, not a Sophoclean tragedy. No reader will close this book with a heart un-warmed. I can't recommend this highly enough for anyone, of any age, with two feet or four. 

Graphic Language: Reverb & Brush Strokes

I believe all forms of art follow the same principals. Whether it is painting, design, dance, food, music, etc. they all find common ground in the same principals and theories you can read about in any art book. Being a guitarist and designer, I can best make the comparison between painting/design and music.

 I like a good amount of reverb in my lead guitar tone. Being able to "hear the room" is really a pleasing quality to me. It makes the guitar sound bigger, occupying more space and the notes have more presence. It also adds another tool to your "note toolbox", because a single note that rings out/echos (say, after a bend or fast slide) still occupies some musical space. In music, space is a principal that is as important as it is in art.

 I compare this note's reverb to a single brush stroke across a canvas. As the brush drags across, the paint breaks up and thins out. It becomes exciting because it is unpredictable, which also makes it interesting. It is the most interesting part of the brush stroke. The note is not as unpredictable to the player as the paint is to the painter, but to the listener it is. It is always unexpected and when you catch it, and it fills the space correctly, it is memorable.

Oh, Kathi. . . we're going to miss you

The Bay Area literary community lost one of its brightest lights this morning, when after a lengthy battle, Kathi Kamen Goldmark succumbed to cancer - she was 63.

Kathi was one of the very special ones, and I can't overstate how wonderful the moments we shared together were. She possessed a kindness and care that is rare these days, and her buoyant charm put smiles on faces whenever she came into a room.

Kathi was a tireless proponent of the written word. She was a novelist, a journalist, and the producer of West Coast Live. She and her husband, Sam Barry, worked closely with emerging authors, offering advice on how to succeed in the publishing world in both their column / blog Author Enablers, and in their book, Write That Book Already. We sat together on the Litquake board. In 2007 Kathi was named a San Francisco Literary Laureate, and in 2008 was the recipient of The Women's National Book Association Award. November 8th, 2008 was Kathi Kamen Goldmark Day in San Francisco by Mayoral Proclamation, and on that day, Kathi also received a Certificate of Recognition from the California Legislature for “...outstanding achievements in the arts and literary fields.”

Kathi's love of literature was matched by her passion for music. In 1992 alongside Amy Tan, Stephen King and the Barry Brothers, she was a founding member of The Rock-Bottom Remainders and since that time, the band has raised in the neighborhood of two million dollars for various charities.

Kathi was a dear friend, not only to myself, but to many of us here at Green Apple Books. We loved her, and will miss her.


Lesbian Stripper

Since everyone from the New Yorker to Wall Street Journal has reviewed Alison Bechdel’s Are You My Mother, I’m instead going to discuss Dykes to Watch Out For,  my beloved and covert  thrill for most of its 25-year history.   

It’s hard to get the news from Bechdel. But, what delightful fun I had doing just that for many years. Bechdel’s comic strip soap opera of housemates, lovers, ex-lovers, and bookstore clerks-- ran from 1983 to 2008 in the LGBT and alternative press even as those mediums dwindled away. I caught up with the strip upon arriving in the city and to political consciousness, in 1986.

Bechdel seemed aware of every timely issue across our patchwork of gay ghettos-- outing, the March on Washington, gender politics-- from her Burlington, Vermont home, which she slyly displayed on the shelves of the strip's Madwimin Bookstore-- books like “My Lover Used to be a Woman," “Susie Bright Explains it all For You,” and "Heather's Mommy is Now Heather's Daddy." That is, until a Bounders and Buns and Noodle Books moves in and Jezanna, the manager is forced to close Madwimmin). Like a lesbian Gary Trudeau, Bechdel’s headlines in the town’s Daily Distress bleated news of invasions and zenophobia from the dark Bush years, and book industry consolidation-- “Despite Losses Stock Up 1000%” for example.

DTWOF’s cast of characters included Alison’s doppelganger-- library science student Mo; her first girlfriend, mechanic Harriet, second girlfriend Sydney, a Women’s Studies professor and breast cancer survivor; activist and drag king Lois, who dates Jasmine, her daughter, trans-teen Janis; English professor Ginger, her student (and CIA intern) Cynthia; bisexual Sparrow who heads the local NARAL office, her partner, Stuart, and their son Jiao; environmental lawyer Clarice, accountant Toni and her son Raffi; and Thea who has multiple sclerosis.

Here’s hoping that Bechdel reintroduces DTWOF and that the crossover success of her last two memoirs draws a whole new audience. Even better, how about an animated TV series? In the meantime, check out Dykes to Watch Out For at the Green Apple annex’s stupendously deep graphic novel selection, and adore Bechdel’s sapphic sisters as much as I do.

Priced To Move

As a young person, I remember tryin' to get my mom to give me a dime to buy candy. A dime! It didn't seem like much to me, but you'd think I'd asked for the keys to the car. Even on the day I graduated kindergarten, she was reluctant to come through, and lost her patience the eighth time I asked.

     In my adolescence I would take the train to the city in the quest for used records. I guess my parents' thriftiness carried through to me because the most I'd spend wasn't that much. The works of the Minutemen,  Sonic Youth, and Discharge were too popular to make their way to the used bins, so I had to wait until later in life to investigate these artists. What did make it was a mix of crap, treasure, and the middling.

     Grown up but still young at heart, I came to live in America's finest city. I would browse in used bookstores, but particularly I was (and am) attracted attracted to the bins of cheap books in front. When I started working at Green Apple, well, I really started acquiring cheap books. My history collection was diverse, eclectic, and cost-effective. I couldn't believe the amazing titles which lingered, neglected, on our shelves. The Greatest Explosions In History by Ragnar Benson is just the creme de la creme of the hundreds of titles which compressed my vertebrae on the commute home.

     Then they did work on our flat and having to move all my stuff around convinced me I was over-extended. "What's the point?" my roommate asked. "You'll never have time to read those books." For some people, the aesthetic of stacks of books on the living room floor is not a winning one. Trying to sell them wasn't gonna win either. When you bought stuff beat up for $2 in the first place, your return typically is low. The amazing Community Thrift store at 17th and Valencia benefited from my fifteen grocery bags of quality titles.

     So while perhaps not a great investment for resale, the bins in front of Green Apple Books are full with the middling and the transcendent, with perhaps just a touch of crap thrown in so as not to offend the gods. I sure kept the Bosch and Bruegel tomes I found there. And now I mention the little bit of bin-like magic we have upstairs in our main store, back in the Red Delicious room--one case of sale books. Not sale books like our remainders tables (brilliant in themselves, but a subject for another time). These sale books were either taken at our buy counter for a low price, so we can put them on the sale case, or our buyers bought more copies of a particular title than our customers would buy from us, and we gotta liquidate them in the name of space. Either way, we strive to have classic and quality titles priced to move! As of Saturday evening, May 19, 2012, the works of Michael Pollan, Jon Krakauer, beloved humorist David Sedaris, unchaste drunkard Chelsea Handler, Guns, Germs and Steel, and a book with a picture of a shark on the front--these and many more are priced to move and awaiting your attention.       

What's Tom Robbins So Happy About?

I came across this old copy of Jitterbug Perfume in a box of books to be shelved.  I found the author photo to be, um, unusual.  Tom sure looks happy in this picture.  Then again, he was riding high on the bestseller lists, so he undoubtedly had a lot to smile about.  Maybe one of the things he was smiling about was knowing that Bantam would be printing this photo on the back cover of his soon-to-be-published book.

Tall, Slim & Erect

One summer day while browsing at a flea market, writer and photographer Alex Forman came across a small wooden box containing thirty-seven 2" plastic miniatures of presidents Washington through Nixon. Intrigued by the stately, almost anonymous bearing of these figures, Forman decided to research the lives of the presidents contained in the box to learn more about the real men behind these models.

Eschewing the kind of patriotic biography that often characterizes and colors our perceptions of the presidents, Forman collected an assortment enlightening, endearing, and sometimes odd facts and gossip. These humorous and myth-busting thumbnail biographies have just been published in the Tall, Slim & Erect (Les Figues Press).

Some of my favorites are below.

"Benjamin Harrison's handshake was like a wilted petunia"

"Franklin Pierce was the most unambitious man ever to run for office."
"Truman always drove too fast."
"Poll, [Andrew] Jackson's parrot who could speak in Spanish and English, reportedly had to be removed from Jackson's funeral because the bird was cursing in both languages."

Tall, Slim & Erect is a delightful book and will certainly appeal to anyone who takes pleasure in American history and/or the absurdity found in the gulf between public and private personas. 

N.B.- Tall, Slim & Erect is not yet listed on our website. Please call the store at 415-387-2272 or stop by to get a copy.

"Whose Real?": An Interview with Miranda Mellis

I first discovered Miranda Mellis through her novella The Revisionist -- a poetic, unsettling, gorgeously illustrated tale, and one of those one-sitting reads whose imagery lingers and rattles around the mind for many sittings (walkings, dreamings) thereafter. So I was delighted to pick up her newest collection of similarly fantastic short stories, None of This is Real, and to see that it was published by the tiny local Sidebrow Books, and even more excited to frantically phone in an order for every copy in stock in order to get it in the hands of our Apple-a-Month Club subscribers for April. 

Long story short, a tentative but effusive email correspondence ensued, and thanks to Miranda's kindness, local-ness, and professed love for Green Apple, last month we were able to send subscribers an extra special package, which included signed copies of None of This is Real as well as a three page interview with the author herself. Subscribers got first dibs on the hard copy, but here is the interview in its entirety. Welcome to the world of Miranda Mellis -- here lost souls grow strange appendages, a line for coffee becomes a sort of quotidian purgatory, children must contend and compete with the both the failures and the mysticism of their ancestors, and every word is at once startling and perfect. Enjoy. 

Green Apple: Hi! What are you reading now?

Miranda Mellis: Right now I am reading The Weather in Proust by Eve Kosovsky Sedgwick; Ugly Feelings by Sianne Ngai; A Year From Monday by John Cage; Debt by David Graeber; The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead; Best European Fiction 2012 edited by Aleksander Hemon; Culture of One by Alice Notley; The Ravickians by Renee Gladman; and Satan’s Stones by Moniru Ravanipur. 

GAB: What were you reading while writing the stories in None Of This Is Real?

MM: I probably can’t do this question justice as the process of finishing these stories unfolded over several years and the reading list would be too long and hard to compile. I will mention a book that is definitely an influence on None of This Is Real and that is Touba and the Meaning of the Night by Iranian author-in-exile Shahrnush Parsipur, who is one of the world’s greatest living novelists but somewhat unknown outside of Iran. Touba, the main character in the novel, is an Iranian woman who longs to become a scholar and mystic but is hampered at every turn by gender oppression. The book spans over 150 years of Iranian history. This book really taught me something I’ll never forget about prophesy, knowledge and power. I urge everyone to seek her out and read her work. Other authors whose work has definitely had an influence on this book are Robert Walser, Bob Glück, and Thalia Field. Kafka, Beckett, and John Cage are constant touchstones. 

GAB: Do you bookmark or dog-ear?

MM: I bookmark, dog-ear, annotate, highlight, pencil, pen, sticky and post-it all over my books! They get very collage-d. The day after I got my copy of Ugly Feelings a few weeks ago it was accidentally submerged in a puddle of tea and it immediately swelled up. It was softened by its spill; now it feels more like fabric than paper to the touch. It’s all stained and bloated which seems perfect for what it is exploring, ugly feelings! 

GAB: In None of This is Real, the characters are grounded in realistic circumstances which are then turned on their head (or slightly tilted) by the fantastic or surreal. Do you start with the real and imagine ways to undo it or do you approach reality through the lens of the fantastic? Or does your process unfold in a different way?

MM: One definition of the real is that it is a delimitation of that which is legible and perceptible to a given being. That said, perhaps an absurd, extreme, surprising, or improbable metaphor, if it is apt, can work on multiple levels in a way that a more readily expected one may not. {Main character} O’s painful, confusing fin in {the titular story in} None of This Is Real, for example. The fin is real for the protagonist. I imagined the fin as both an adaptation and the onset of a premature reincarnation, and I committed to that conceit, and to that double-meaning, in the writing. 

For me, the fact that O can only discover what he is becoming by means of occultists {in the story, O visits a palm reader} describes an epistemological crisis and a kind of political paralysis in the face of the incredible gaps and the outrageously disproportionate distributions of knowledge and agency in a class-based society that protects the rich, and exploits and disenfranchises the rest. The fantastical, or absurd, is in this sense the real, or the everyday, in that our everyday lives are outrageously pressurized in ways that we become habituated to, that become invisible, and then rear up in all sorts of painful intensifications, symptoms and so forth. Forms of magic – magical thinking, magical transformations, and magical actions – represent reachable, alternative forms of agency and knowledge in lieu of political power for the disenfranchised, abandoned, and oppressed, and this often includes children and youth, on whom the stories in this collection are most focused. 

By the way, I’m not recommending magical thinking in this book! I’m just trying to think why it becomes a tool and how magic/magical thinking itself in all its complicated manifestations, from manic self-delusions of grandeur, to the clairvoyant, the synchronistic, the Gnostic, and the pagan, becomes useful. I feel dream logic and magic at work in the world, and there is a reason why O gets his information from psychics and books. But it is complicated isn’t it? People turn to prophecy when they feel out of control, when they feel they can’t understand or have a say in their future. What is the difference between seeking prophetic knowledge and seeking political agency?  I use the fantastical, the absurd, and the surreal to try to explore the contradictions there.

To your initial question about my approach to the interplay between the fantastical and the real, I can say that I don’t feel bound or beholden by any one genre, but see genre as a tool. What sorts of genres, or time frames, are available to contemporary storytellers to describe the utterly crazy-making conundrums of being a person? For my part, the purely imaginary is part of the real; it seems to me there are many realisms. One can always ask, Whose real? Which one? 

GAB: You co-edit a really cool thing called The Encyclopedia Project, described on its website as “part reference book, part literary journal {in the} form of the encyclopedia-from general layout to cross-referencing-as a venue for publishing new, innovative literary works.” What is interesting to you about the form of the encyclopedia, and what do you think is its importance and relevance in what is, for lack of a better/smarter-sounding term for this particular information age, the age of Wikipedia?

MM: The etymology of encyclopedia has to do with expanding circles of knowledge. We’re interested in doing that, and in the idea that a reliable source of information about a given term could come in the form of a story, a lyric essay, a hybrid cross-genre text, or a piece of art, and not solely from scientific, taxonomic, academic lexicons. We’re playing with ideas about canon, knowledge, and expertise, emphasizing the poetic, subjective aesthetics of the encyclopedic form as an expression of knowledge formation. We see the encyclopedia as a horizontal, community art form and knowledge itself as something collectively formed. Pluralism is at the heart of what we’re up to. Wikipedia is also a community-based form for knowledge sharing and acquisition, but our emphasis is on literary art and we’re committed to the print book not just as a fetish (though there is that!) but as an analog, affordable and accessible object that doesn’t rely upon electricity (after its been produced) to be read. 

GAB: What encyclopedia entry (one word or phrase) that could go in the upcoming installment of The Encyclopedia Project (which is the letters L-P) would best sum up your current state of mind? 

MM: Purposiveness without purpose.

GAB: Everyone´s hollering about the doomed state of the print book these days. Do you buy it? Are these the end times, or just the changing times, and if it´s the latter, what do you think is changing for the kind of writing and publishing you do?

MM: My understanding is that there are more books in print now then ever before. Perhaps over a million books a year are printed. But are there fewer readers? I don’t know. I think the kind of writing and publishing I do is likely to remain marginal, regardless the state of the book, but who knows? Perhaps I’ll accidentally write something popular some day.

GAB: Favorite food in the Inner Richmond?

MM: Burma Superstar!

GAB: If you could have a “staff favorite” on display at Green Apple, what would it be? 

MM: I’d vote for the recent reissue of another edition and translation of Women Without Men: A Novel of Modern Iran by Shahrnush Parsipur.

(Note: Thanks to Miranda, we’ve now got both of the Parispur books mentioned in this interview on order for our shelves.)

We are also pleased to be hosting Miranda for a reading along with the incomparable Anna Joy Springer (author of The Vicious Red Relic, Love) at Green Apple on Friday, May 25th at 7:30 PM. Hope to see you there!

First Time Novelist, Long Time Fan

A friend of mine introduced me to Leni Zumas's collection of short stories, Farewell Navigator, and I was blown away by the eerie and hypnotic style and voice that carried the collection from beginning to end.  
  "I have never read stories like these before and I can't get them    out of my head. Her language is real sorcery—it dismantles the world you think you know and takes you to strange, fecund territories of the imagination. Sentence by sentence, Zumas creates worlds so vivid and fever-bright that you forget you're reading words on a page and begin to see real plums, scars, black stars lashed to the bottom of canoes. Her characters are girls and boys in bad trouble, who feel as close to you and as far from you as the black sheep in your own family."
 —Karen Russell, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves
That is as well said as anyone can describe the feel of Farewell Navigator. It is a dark and captivating world. So imagine my excitement when I saw a copy of The Listeners from Tin House Books. This is Leni Zumas's first novel and it is fantastic. This is the story of Quinn a thirty-something treading water in life and quickly tiring.  Her past haunts her constantly and creates the disappointing reality that her life has become.  Despite the hopelessness you see in Quinn you cannot help but love her and root for her. It is tragedy and incredible writing that drives this story, weaving together the past and present, creating a powerful and emotional novel.

You will not be disappointed by this novel (or her short stories) from a new and exciting author. I am already looking forward to whatever Leni Zumas will write next!

Please Compare and Contrast the Following Titles

Further back in the recesses of our Fiction and Music Annex one can now find our expanded True Crime section. We have more room for oversize material, more new books, and, while they last, two giant shelves of mass market paperbacks. On a related note, two quality titles have been published in paperback this month.

     Popular Crime, by well-known baseball statistician Bill James, is a fascinating look at nearly two hundred years of crimes, mostly murders, which have captured the American imagination. James is a logician, a contrarian, and a voracious reader of true crime books profound, obscene, obscure, pedestrian, and trashy. His chapters of the Jon Benet-Ramsey case and the Butcher of Kingsbury Run (aka the Cleveland Torso Murderer) are particularly strong. I do not endorse his thinking on public policy, which can be reactionary in the extreme. But I love this title and now it's new at $15.

     Also hitting our shelves in paperback this month, to be found on our Staff Favorites display, is Sarah Burns' The Central Park Five. It tells of one of biggest crime stories in this history of New York City--the "Central Park Jogger" case of 1989. Five teenagers from public housing were quickly arrested and convicted, though the evidence at the scene indicated only one perpetrator was involved. Their convictions were voided in 2002.

     This title is an excellent companion to last year's paperback release of Finding Chandra by Washington Post reporters Scott Hingham and Sari Horwitz. Modesto native Chandra Levy vanished in a Washington DC public park in 2001. It was over a year before her body was discovered. The police focused on the man with whom she'd been having an affair, serial adulterer and then-Stanislaus County Congressman Gary Condit. He was not responsible and was never charged. Her killer was convicted in 2009.

      These cases share quite a few similarities. Both concern professional women in cosmopolitan big cities who were attacked in public parks. In both cases, police and media quickly focused on individuals who had been doing, well, dumb shit that sure made them look bad. The New York teens had been punching strangers in the park that night, going so far as to steal food from a homeless guy. Condit was an amoral philanderer, for whom Levy was just the latest in a string of women who hid their relationship with him while dreaming of the day (which he assured them would be soon) he'd quit Congress, divorce his wife, and settle down with them. Both cases occurred in cities with extremely sophisticated, numerous, relentless, and ravenous media. Only London is worse (better?) in this regard than NYC and DC. In both cities black and brown people became greatly angered that an assault on a wealthy white woman generated such rapid reactions from city bureaucracies, when so many similar crimes against their demographic were, um, not exactly top priorities. Both perpetrators proved to be Salvadorian immigrants who were already in jail for other, similar crimes when their guilt in these cases was revealed.

     The biggest and most obvious difference was the status of the original suspects. The black and Latino teens from public housing were bereft of legal assistance of any kind, leaving their guardians to be jerked around by the police while detectives (illegally) leaned on the kids. Condit was white, telegenic, well-spoken... Oh yeah, and a sitting Congressman. He treated with deference by the police despite being their prime suspect. In the Central Park case, the media took their cues from the police, including the coining of the infamous term "wilding" to describe the kids' behavior. The term was attributed, falsely, to the teens, but came from the cops. In DC, the cops took their clues from the media. Calmer and wiser heads immediately realized that Condit was scumbag, but not a murderous one. But the "Representative-denies-affair-with-missing-intern" angle was much too strong for the media to pass up. The cops had nothing else to go on and so wasted their time trying to figure out where he stashed the body. The Central Park case was cracked when the perpetrator met one of the convicted teens, now in his 20s, in jail. He came forward with a detailed and accurate confession which led to their convictions being overturned. No arrests were made in DC until the Post reporters utilized geographical profiling to identify a likely suspect, already imprisoned for attacks on women in the same park.

     True crime is another window onto the power structures and prejudices of our society. These two books in particular are a sad but worthwhile education.  


Darkness is black as oil and looks like a vampire and is as smelly as an onion

Green Apple Meets the Students of 826 Valencia’s Writing Table

Green Apple recently donated five $50 gift cards to 826 Valencia so they could reward a few of their many promising young writers. Here are excerpts from the work of the winning writers.

Student Name: Natalie Zuñiga
Age: 9
School: El Dorado Elementary

Person of the Darkness

Darkness is black as oil and looks like a vampire and is as smelly as an onion. Also, it is as giant as an elephant. Darkness would change bad things to good things. To change bad things to good things is an easy thing for Darkness. So if Darkness sees someone robbing something from someone, he would call the police right away. So the police would come and take that person and put him in prison. So in the morning when everyone woke up, everything would be fine, perfect and good.

Student Name: Uriel Delgado
Age: 6
School: St. James Elementary

When I’m 80 years old, I’m still going to be strong.

Student Name: Esteban Sanchez
Age: 9
School: Thomas Edison Charter Academy

“Your limo is over there,” he said.
“My limo, yes.” Miss Olia always traveled in a limo. Today she saved a seat for you.
Nate the Great had never been in a limo.
Sludge had never been in a limo.
It was big and shiny.
“We got the front seat!”
Willie got in the front seat.
And we were off.

Student Name: Josh Ramirez
Age: 13
School: Thomas Edison Charter Academy

Windy Weather is Better

I like the weather windy because of the whistling sound it makes and the way it feels on my skin. I also like when it is really windy and the fog bank shows up because of the way the light looks fuzzy. I wear warm clothing when it is windy. I like the wind and the way the sun doesn’t get in my eyes.

Student Name: Jasmine Hernandez
Age: 7
School: Buena Vista Elementary

I think that Darkness would change if he were a clown.