where the writers are

Favorite Books

While kicking around the Bay Area in the 1970s, I signed up for as many classes as I could with San Francisco State University's always entertaining and enlightening Michael Krasny. If you haven't read his book "Off Mike, A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life" — grab a copy (Stanford University Press, 2008). Krasny covers his years as a writer, academic and well-known KQED talk show host who later breaks into television. He provides plenty of fascinating anecdotes about his encounters with the literati (wow, Gore Vidal was a schmuck) and other celebrities along the way. But for me, it's the book's underlying Bildungsroman (yep, Mike, I still remember you teaching us that one), about a tough Jewish kid from Cleveland who discovers his sensitive, intellectual, "writerly" side. There's some fine and engaging novelistic flourishes throughout this quintessentially San Francisco success story.


T.Coraghessan Boyle, Tobias Wolff, Russell Banks, David Gates, Philip Roth, Joseph Heller, James M. Cain, Dashiel Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Michael Connelly, Patrica Highsmith, Linda Fairstein, Elmore Leonard, Lester Bangs, E.A. Poe. Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Jack Kerouac, Robyn Hitchcock, William Faulkner, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Ford/Carver/McGuane ... Updike/Cheever/Roth ... Hemingway/Fitzgerald/Thomas Wolfe, McKinley Morganfield, Alfred Kazin, Malcolm Cowley, William M. Gaines, Jean Toomer, Sherman Alexie, Ray Bradbury, James Joyce, Stephen King, Marcel Proust, Pete Hamill, Tom Wolfe and Joyce Carol Oates, for starters.