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Everybody's Fool

April Fool's Day touches off a full-scale raid of local bookstores by eclectic authors

By Jessica Neuman Beck

April Fool's Day wasn't always about pranks. Ancient cultures used to groove on the fact that April 1 was so close to the vernal equinox, so much so that they made it the first day in their new year. It wasn't until 1582, when Pope Gregory XII introduced his new "Gregorian" calendar, that Jan. 1 became the resolution fest it is today.

Those upstarts, the French, pretty much ignored the new calendar, however, and were mocked as traditionalists. Part of the razzing involved sending them on "Fool's Errands" on the day they stubbornly refused to stop recognizing as the new year--April 1. Hence the April, and the Fool.

In France, actually, they refer to April Fool's Day as Poisson d'Avril. So, really, it could be worse. People could be shouting "April Fish!" This is one reason to be glad you're not in France.

* April Fool's Day gets off to a heady start with Jonathan Kirsch at 7:30pm at the Capitola Book Cafe. Kirsch will be reading from his newest book, God Against the Gods: The History of the War Between Monotheism and Polytheism. Kirsch, a UCSC alum and book columnist for the Los Angeles Times, has also written King David, Moses, The Harlot by the Side of the Road and The Woman Who Laughed at God.

* Thursday, April 8, at 7:30pm Bookshop Santa Cruz kicks off National Poetry Month with local author Patrice Vecchione. She will be reading from and signing copies of Revenge and Forgiveness: An Anthology of Poems, and will be joined by poets Daniel Campos, Morton Marcus, Kat Meads, Sarah Rabkin and Gary Young. Also celebrating National Poetry Month is the Capitola Book Cafe, who will have readings on April 8 at 7:30pm from local poet Julia Alter, author of Walking the Hot Coal of the Heart and Erika Meitner, author of Inventory at the All-Night Drugstore.

* Wednesday, April 14, at 7:30pm at the Capitola Book Cafe, Zac Unger will be reading from Working Fire, a novel which began as a Slate diary he wrote in 2001. Unger describes his life as an Oakland firefighter and how it changed his life.

* Sunday, April 18, at 7pm at the Book Cafe and Bookshop Santa Cruz team up for an off-site event. Amy Goodman, host of the daily talk show Democracy Now!, will be at the Rio Theatre discussing her new book, The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them. The event is ticketed, but every purchase of The Exception to the Rulers at the Capitola Book Cafe or Bookshop Santa Cruz includes two tickets to the event. To purchase tickets individually, call the Rio Theatre.

* Tuesday, April 20, at 7:30pm, the Book Cafe presents two new voices in literature, Lolly Winston and Ellen Sussman. Winston's novel, Good Grief, follows a young widow through her early days of bereavement as she learns to begin a new life. Sussman's On a Night Like This is the story of a single mother harboring a tragic secret.

* On Tuesday, April 27, at 7:30pm at the Book Cafe, Diana Preston reads from Pirate of the Exquisite Mind: The Life of William Dampier. A pioneer who reached Australia 80 years before Cook, William Dampier's accomplishments, which included figuring out that winds cause currents and introducing the concept of the "sub-species" that made Darwin a household name, have been overshadowed by his more famous colleagues. Preston's book aims to remedy that.

* Thursday, April 29, at 7:30pm, Nina Marie Martinez will be at Bookshop Santa Cruz in support of her new novel, CARAMBA! A Tale Told in Turns of the Card. A fresh, fast-paced tale of female friendship, CAREMBA! has been called "Thelma and Louise on the border," and the book is illustrated with such things as Mexican lottery cards, letters and newspaper clippings.

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From the March 31-April 7, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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