July 24th at 7pm Jaimal Yogis: All Our Waves Are Water
“Yogis, a surfer, journalist, and spiritual seeker, revisits and expands on the terrain of his previous memoir (Saltwater Buddha) in a quest that blends his search for surf and enlightenment in captivating ways. Descriptions of surf sessions in Indonesia, Mexico, and San Francisco are beautiful interludes. But the book’s power is in Yogis’s description of the seeking mind caught in its own currents–and occasionally transcending them–in places such as the Himalayas, a Franciscan friary in New York, and the Western Wall in Jerusalem. In this personal study on the elusive nature of mystical experience and its ability to evade the intellect, Yogis weaves together scientific research, the words of religious scholars and poets, and the wisdom of surfers and monks. From a Tibetan monk he learns how to reside in his own sadness and loss. Later, he discovers that even a “tropical beach in Mexico with a beautiful woman, nothing much to do except surf, be creative, meditate, and eat tacos” won’t bring him lasting peace. On Ocean Beach, he seeks balance between life as a journalist and his spiritual path. Yet Yogis finds wisdom everywhere. Yogis shows that the search for enlightenment, with its storms, lulls, and occasional thrills, is not much different from the search for the perfect wave.” –Publisher’s Weekly
July 25th at 7:00pm: Kaitlin Solimine, Empire of Glass
“A portrait of a soul,”–Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, finalist for the National Book Award
In the mid-1990s, an American teenager, named Lao K in Chinese, stands on Coal Hill, a park in Beijing, a loop of rope in her hand. Will she assist her Chinese homestay mother, Li-Ming, who is dying of cancer, in ending her life, or will she choose another path? Twenty years later, Lao K receives a book written by Li-Ming called “Empire of Glass,” a narrative that chronicles the lives of Li-Ming and her husband, Wang, in pre and post-revolutionary China over the last half of the twentieth century. Lao K begins translating the story, which becomes the novel we are reading. But, as translator, how can Lao K separate fact from fiction, and what will her role be in the book’s final chapter?
A grand, experimental epic–Lao K’s story is told in footnotes that run throughout the book–that chronicles the seismic changes in China over the last half century through the lens of one family’s experiences, Empire of Glass is an investigation into the workings of human memory and the veracity of oral history that pushes the boundaries of language and form in stunning and unforgettable ways.
Kaitlin Solimine has been a Fulbright Fellow in China, and has received several scholarships, awards, and residencies for her writing, including the 2012 Dzanc Books/Disquiet International Literary Program award for an earlier draft of Empire of Glass, judged by Colson Whitehead. Her fiction has been published in Guernica, the Kartika Review, and numerous anthologies. Kaitlin is co-founder of HIPPO Reads, a network connecting academic insights and scholars to the wider public. She resides in San Francisco with her husband and daughter, where she is a 2016 SF Grotto Writing Fellow.
Visit the author’s website.
August 1st at 6:30pm Bill Roorbach, The Girl of the Lake
“The 10 generous, daring short stories in the new collection by the author of Life Among Giants range from tricky romance to dark comedy to breathtaking adventure. Roorbach casts his gaze on characters whose lives are spinning out of control. Sometimes they’re reeling from a loss, like the recent widower in “The Tragedie of King Lear” who loses himself, in more ways than one, in the role of volunteer for a summer stock theater. Other times, they find themselves violently, surprisingly in love, like the jaded narrator of “Some Should,” who posts her photo on “two dating sites, one snuggly, the other filthy” and ends up in a bar listening to the memories of an Episcopalian priest with a startling past. Roorbach can write a story that hones in on a couple of eventful days, like “The Fall,” in which two young lovers, perhaps less compatible than they had originally thought, start a backpacking trek through the Maine woods. He’s also capable, in a way that suggests comparisons with Alice Munro, of contracting the eventful lives of several characters into the space of a short story, and of embedding stories within other stories. Like the magical tales a wealthy immigrant spins for a bored and then enchanted sixth grader in “Harbinger Hall,” Roorbach’s cunningly crafted stories start off ordinary, and then turn magically strange.” –Publisher’s Weekly
Roorbach is the author of the bestselling Life Among Giants, which won a Maine Literary Award in 2012. An earlier collection, Big Bend, won the Flannery O’Connor and O. Henry prizes in 2000. His memoir in nature, Temple Stream, just released in a new paperback edition by Down East Books, won the Maine Literary Award in nonfiction 2005. He’s just been named a 2018 Civitella Ranieri Foundation fellow.
Bill lives in Maine, with his wife, Juliet Karelsen, who is a visual artist, and their daughter, Elysia Roorbach, an aspiring ballerina and full-time teen.