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Read Nun Talking: Sister Helen Prejean, author of 'Dead Man Walking,' will discuss her new book 'Death of the Innocents' Jan. 21 at Capitola Book Cafe.

Booked for the New Year

Looking back, ahead and sideways at the richness of the local literary scene

By Karen Kefauver

As the year draws to an end, I like to take time to reflect on stellar events. Highlights for me in 2004 included a wonderful week in October when I saw two outstanding authors at different locations.

After reading about him in an Outside magazine cover story, it was exciting to meet young rock climber Aron Ralston at Bookshop Santa Cruz. He shared his harrowing survival tale in dramatic fashion, recounting the details from his aptly titled book, Between a Rock and a Hard Place.

I am proud to report that no one passed out during his gruesome though ultimately uplifting story of having to perform a self-amputation after his forearm was trapped beneath a boulder during a freak climbing accident.

Later that same week, Santa Cruz boasted another superb event, a visit by Susan Orlean (author of The Orchid Thief). A longtime writer for The New Yorker, Orlean delighted the audience by reading a variety of humorous essays, including my favorite, one about commercial artist Thomas Kinkade, entitled "Art for Everybody."

This past year, I have been especially grateful for two hometown resources: the local chapter of the National Writers Union (www.nwu.org), which organizes meetings for the public and members alike, and to Meg Weaver of Watsonville, who produces a wonderful website and a free newsletter full of marketing tips for writers and publicists (www.woodenhorsepub.com).

Before I get too nostalgic, let me mention a few upcoming events for 2005. To fuel your travel dreams, check out Erin Van Rheenen, author of Living Abroad in Costa Rica (Jan. 5), and to stoke your views on the death penalty, Sister Helen Prejean (author of Dead Man Walking) will talk about her latest book, Death of the Innocents (Jan. 21). Both will appear at Capitola Book Cafe. For more events taking place in 2005, visit www.capitolabookcafe.com and www.bookshopsantacruz.com.

On Jan. 11 at the luscious new performing arts space, The Attic, 913 Pacific Ave. (above the Blue Lagoon) two esteemed poets, Cecilia Woloch and Ilya Kaminsky, will present their works. Dennis Morton, who is producing the event with Poetry Santa Cruz, noted that Kaminsky, a native of Russia, "came here at 17, speaking no English. He's 27 now and already recognized by luminaries in the poetry world as a brilliant poet." Don't miss him with Woloch, who boasts 20 years of literary experience writing and teaching workshops. A $3 donation is requested. For a full schedule, visit www.poetrysantacruz.org.

Lastly, a fond farewell to Herland: The Wanderground, the social and literary hub and bookstore downtown that has catered to feminist, gay, alternative and pagan communities since 1993, and a salute to owner Kayla Rose.

Before I dash out to buy my last-minute books, calendars and magazines as gifts, I have to clear some space on my cluttered shelves and overflowing magazine rack. I frequently donate books and magazines in good shape to the library, and sometimes if they are in top-notch condition I take a stack of books (paperbacks are preferred by used booksellers) to Logos or Bookshop. And don't tell anyone, but sometimes I just regift them.

I won't complain if I am regifted something from my wish list: Tom Wolfe's latest, I Am Charlotte Simmons, a novel resulting from Wolfe's time spent researching collegiate life, and The Bicycle: The History, a glorious tribute to my favorite form of transportation, by David Herlihy.

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From the December 29, 2004-January 5, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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For more information about Santa Cruz, visit santacruz.com.

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