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Books: Reading Santa Barbara

Some Recent Works by Area Authors


Our city scribes and processors of words have been very busy. Here is a Whitman’s Sampler of wisdom and wit from a town where literati such as Kenneth Rexroth, Ross Macdonald, and T.C. Boyle hail.

101 Quizzes for Couples. By Natasha Burton. (Adams Media. $12.99.) Lovers just love to pick up those magazine articles that promise to help you test your way to a compatibility quotient, don’t you think? Natasha Burton, who writes for People, Maxim, and Glamour has compiled a pile of those reality pop-quiz questions ranging from favorite first lies to favorite first ladies to find out for sure if he or she is right or wrong for you.

The Ides of August. By David M. Brainard. (Lulu.com. $15.) Brainard, one of the city’s finest actors, not only survived a heart transplant last year but also kicked around these mean streets since the early 1960s and actually looks like the hero of a neo-noir yarn. In Ides (the first of a planned series), the protagonist begins in a courthouse in Santa Maria, smokes a joint on the Pass, and then ends driving off in the rain, adding more evidence to the case of Santa Barbara as coolest of crime scenes.

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Surfing about Music. By Timothy J. Cooley. (University of California Press.) Surf music seems about as distant a topic from academic inquiry as Leadbetter Beach is from Hawai’i. Cooley, a UCSB ethnomusicologist, begins with the slightly exaggerated premise that tunes from Dick Dale to Donavon Frankenreiter represent a surf tribe’s concerns; then he traces the history of the original new wave of music to its contemporary uses. Hehehe! Wipe out!

Wiley Hall. By Kenneth A. Pettit. (Trafford Publishing.) Another prominent Santa Barbarian, namely Ken Pettit, former registrar of voters for the last eon or so, sat down and wrote what appears to be a memoir in short story form of growing up in an orphanage. Pettit claims there is no more lonesome world.

Farewell My Country. By A.J. Harris. (Murder Mystery Press, $16.95.) Mystery writer Harris penned this thriller as a “fictional biography” of his brother, Jack Harris, unfairly persecuted as a communist in the midst of the witch-hunt post-WWII years.

Songs I Live. Alan Hurst. (Publishing info and price unavailable.) Hurst, who wrote a story for The Indy about his mother’s amazing Westfalia VW van (the chapter is included in the book), chronicles his own life backward, helpfully including a song he penned at the end of every chapter. It’s a memoir with a beat.

Eco, Ego, Eros. By Tam Hunt. (Aramis Press.) Essentially a compilation of Hunt’s meditative column written for The Indy proposing a panpsychistic universe (go ahead, look it up), the book proceeds to investigate all kinds of philosophical issues, including interviews with like-minded thinkers Giulio Tononi and the neuroscientist Christof Koch.

The Culling. By Robert P. Johnson. (The Permanent Press. $29.95.) Johnson, author of Thirteen Moons: A Year in the Wilderness, wrote this extreme thriller about a virologist who secretly infects a third of Earth’s population to help even our lopsided overwhelming of Mother Earth. Somehow you get the distinct sense that the author is rooting for the viruses. This from the man who gave us a Lucidity Talk simply titled We’re Fucked.

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