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Photograph by Steve DiBartolomeo

King Me: Popular local Laurie R. King will read from 'The Game' at Capitola Book Cafe March 4 at 7:30pm.

The Monkey House

Celebrate the year of the monkey by flinging around books and checking out lit events

By Jessica Neuman Beck

As the year of the monkey gets into full swing, some of the traditional Chinese astrological omens seem to be gaining veracity. Monkey years, it's said, hold bright prospects for a fascinating future, rich in the unexpected. If the charts are to be believed, 2004 will be a year of transformations. Riots, revolutions and the overthrow of rulers are not outside the realm of possibility, which gives us a sense of optimism as we get set for the presidential election.

It's also a year of intelligence and imagination, and what better way to stimulate the gray matter than listening to tales from local authors?

* Thursday, March 4, at 7:30pm, Laurie R. King presents The Game at the Capitola Book Cafe. A continuation of her bestselling Mary Russell series, The Game, follows Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, through a mystery which includes such fabled literary heroes as Kimball O'Hara, the inspiration for Rudyard Kipling's Kim.

* Saturday, March 6, at 8pm sees the county's largest literary event, In Celebration of the Muse, at the Cabrillo College Theater. Featuring 20 writers, including Maude Meehan, Ellen Bass and Gabriella Gutierrez, the event is a benefit for the Fast Track to Work program, which provides support services to students on welfare and unemployment.

* Monday, March 8, at 7:30pm, Brad Land will be at the Capitola Book Cafe reading from his book Goat: A Memoir. Recalling a childhood wrought with violence and dysfunction, Land's debut is emotionally raw and brilliantly brought to life.

* Tuesday, March 9, at 7:30pm, the Poetry Santa Cruz Reading Series presents Peter Pereira and Joanna Martin at Bookshop Santa Cruz. Joanna Martin is a registered nurse and Peter Pereira is a doctor, and Pereira's poetry has been compared to another doctor-poet, William Carlos Williams. Pereira's newest book, Saying the World, reflects his experiences working with the urban poor and his own personal history as a gay man.

* Also on March 9, at the Capitola Book Cafe, is "A Special Night for Book Clubs," featuring Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston. This event celebrates Houston's first fictional novel, The Legend of the Fire Horse Woman, and will focus on the issues it raises for book clubs.

* Thursday, March 11, at 7:30pm at the Capitola Book Cafe, Orin Starn presents Ishi's Brain: In Search of America's Last "Wild" Indian. The book tells the story of a Yahi Indian who hid in the Northern California mountains for 50 years after the massacre of his tribe and was sensationalized by anthropologist Alfred Kroeber, who put him on living display in a museum.

* Monday, March 15, at 7:30pm at the Capitola Book Cafe, local culinary legends Gayle and Joe Ortiz present their new book, The Village Baker's Wife, which reveals the secrets behind Santa Cruz's favorite Gayle's Bakery recipes.

* Thursday, March 18, at 7:30pm, Michael Chabon will be appearing in support of his latest novel, Summerland. A folkloric tale where baseball is king, Chabon's book has generated a lot of great press.

* Sunday, March 28, at 2pm, local author Robert Scott will be at the White Raven in Felton to sign copies of his book, Mobile Home Heaven/Trailer Court Hell. The book is a short story collection about life in the fictional Thousand Flags Mobile Home Retirement Village.

* Wednesday, March 31, at the Capitola Book Cafe, Laurie Fox, author of My Sister From the Black Lagoon, reads from her new book, Lost Girls. Telling the story of five generations of women descended from Wendy Darling, the novel is part fairy tale, part modern-day fable.

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From the March 3-10, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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