Kevin Smokler, “Practical Classics” author reads at The Book Cellar


Photo by Julie Michelle, courtesy of
Photo by Julie Michelle, courtesy of

Author Event: Kevin Smokler
Where: The Book Cellar
When: Saturday September 7, 4:30pm CST

This Saturday September 7, visit the Book Cellar in Ravenswood to catch a brief glimpse into the minds of Kevin Smokler, author of Practical Classics: 50 Reasons to Reread 50 Books You Haven’t Touched Since High School.

San Francisco-based writer Kevin Smokler is currently serving as writer-in-residence until next week at the Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest, IL; assumedly, this is a good time to catch him while he is still in the Midwest. He will speak about his recent essay collection, Practical Classics. Smokler walks the reader through 50 different classic novels oft tied mentally to dimly lit, half-asleep high school English classrooms–think The Great Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird–and show that they have something valuable to say about how to raise children well, or how to find a fulfilling career, or other adult matters a 16-year-old English student might not glean with equal enthusiasm from Scout Finch in a ham suit.

Smokler will speak at 4:30pm CST at the Book Cellar in Ravenswood. Visit his website,, to learn more about the author and his works.

Author Event: Ben Hollander And Todd Hasak-Lowy

07/09/2013 7:00 pm

Stop by The Book Cellar to hear these two great authors share their work!

Benjamin Hollander 
was born in Haifa, Israel and as a boy immigrated to New York City. He presently lives on the west coast of North America. His books include: In the House Un-American,Memoir AmericanVigilanceRituals of Truce and the Other Israeli, The Book of Who Are Was, How to Read, too, and, as editor, Translating Tradition: Paul Celan in France.

Todd Hasak-Lowy grew up in the suburbs of Detroit. He earned a PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkley where he started writing fiction. His books include The Task of This TranslatorCaptives, and 33 Minutes. His translation of Asaf Schurr’s novelMotti from Hebrew to English was a finalist for the 2013 Sami Rohr Prize in Jewish Literature. Todd lives in Evanston with his family, and teaches Creative Writing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Northwestern University.

Chicago Quarterly Review at Printer’s Row

The Printer’s Row Lit Fest is considered the largest free outdoor literary event in the Midwest-drawing more than 125,000 book lovers to the two-day show.

Come by the ‘L’ Tent June 9 & 10, 2012, and visit the Chicago Quarterly Review along with Academy Chicago Publishers, Anobium, BAC Street Journal, CityFiles Press, Damask Press{dancing girl press & studio}, I Shoot Rockstars, Kenning EditionsNeighborhood Writing Alliance, Quest Books, RCP Publications, The Handshake, Thompson Stamp Art, and Weighed Words!

My Postwar Life: A dive into the Japanese Psyche

Santa Cruz author dives into the Japanese psyche with new book on the lingering aftermath of World War II

Posted:   04/19/2012 01:30:04 AM PDT

It’s been more than 66 years since the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended World War II. But, said novelist and editor Elizabeth McKenzie, for the people of Japan, the war’s aftermath is still unfolding.

“Everything reflects back on the shadow of the war. That topic comes up when you talk to people all the time. It is still present in people’s lives.”

McKenzie is the editor of a new book called “My Postwar Life: New Writings From Japan and Okinawa.” The Santa Cruz author of the books “Stop That Girl” and “MacGregor Tells the World” spent five months in Japan in 2010 after receiving an artist fellowship courtesy of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission. It was while she was there that she began collecting essays, poems, fiction, photography, even a play about Japan’s continuing reaction to World War II from close to two dozen writers and artists.

“My grandmother was a physician who treated children with radiation sickness after the war,” said McKenzie, who will appear with several of her writers next Tuesday at Capitola Book Café. “And I went over there wanting to write a novel about that.”

McKenzie is also the editor of the Chicago Quarterly Review, and it was in that capacity that she began to explore a special issue of the CQR on Japan. The project then grew into a book, the first published by Chicago Quarterly Review Books.

“My Postwar Life” contains a wide variety of forms. For instance, Masataka Matsuda’s play “Park City” wrestles with the specter of Hiroshima. The book also features photographs of the lavishly illustrated diary of a soldier in the Japanese imperial army who survived the war and lived to be 97. It was translated by a UC Santa Cruz student.


“It is a really touching piece,” said McKenzie of the diary. “We had no idea what we were getting. Whatever it was, we wanted it, and then it turned out to be beautiful.”

But perhaps the most catalytic piece in “My Postwar Life” comes from Hitoshi Motoshima, the longtime mayor of Nagasaki, who generated considerable controversy 20 years ago when he suggested that Hirohito — the beloved emperor of Japan who at the time on his deathbed — bore some responsibility for the outcome of the war. Motoshima was widely denounced for his statement and a year later there was an assassination attempt made on his life, which he survived.

In “My Postwar Life,” McKenzie publishes, for the first time in English, Motoshima’s essay on the occasion of a peace memorial in Hiroshima.

“He basically explained why Hiroshima should not be the site of a world peace memorial,” she said, “that it is part of the war machine.”

Also included in the book is an account of McKenzie’s interview with Motoshima, who is now 90, written by her husband Stephen Woodhams.

McKenzie also enlarged her vision to include Okinawa, the islands south of Japan that are technically a region of that country. Okinawan writers, she said, insisted that their cultural experiences of the postwar period were distinct from that of the Japanese mainland.

Also contributing to the book is Karen Tei Yamashita, the UCSC faculty member who was a finalist for the National Book Award for her novel “I Hotel.” Yamashita contributed a foreword to the book.

Open Books, check out December events

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To learn more about us and find out how you can get involved, visit us at!