Doing the Write Thing&emdash;
Store manager Tatiana Shafer personally oversees the All Things Local section of Borders Books Music Movies & Cafe at Pavilions in Sacramento. Selected local authors, mainly self-published, sell their books here on consignment (as opposed to the store buying the books outright). They split the proceeds with the store on a 60/40 basis (Borders gets the 60 percent). The section is a terrific place to find serious books&emdash;like Dr. Allen Hassan‘s Failure to Atone: The True Story of a Jungle Surgeon in Vietnam or veteran truck driver Robert Crowell‘s novel, Crazy Harry&emdash;and such treats as Ted Puntillo‘s The Toads of Davis: A Saga of a Small Town, which is a children’s book with a low-key but unmistakable pro-environment message. You’ll also find a wonderfully eclectic short-story collection, an assortment of local-history works (including Steven Avella‘s heroically titled Sacramento: Indomitable City) and Gyratory Jabber by Jon Dambacher. Shafer says all of the Borders stores have similar sections. The area’s other new-book stores really don’t, as a quick phone-check revealed. (The late Tower Books and B. Dalton Booksellers always did, though&emdash;which is how I managed to sell my first two books to people other than those who shared my surname.) We like giving local writers the opportunity to sell their books here, says Shafer, a native of Italy who tries to get home a couple of times each year (I miss the family and the food). It’s nice when an author can go on a radio show and finish the interview by saying, â€˜Hey, my book’s available at Borders,’ she says. That beats my usual sign off on those rare occasions when I’m interviewed: Do you validate for parking?
Fountain of Ruth&emdash;
There was a charming story in The Sacramento Bee a couple months back about Siskiyou County’s Ruth Huffman&emdash;who, at 104, was declared the nation’s oldest columnist. (I came in second.) Even more amazing, though, was the photo that ran with the story in which, as the caption explained, Huffman got a hug from editor Daniel Webster. Since the only person I know of by that name was the American diplomat born in 1782&emdash;and the editor in the picture looked no more than 45 years old&emdash;I really think the Bee might have missed an even bigger story here. Like: What do they put in the water in Siskiyou County?
City government officials in Elk Grove probably rest easy knowing that the city’s risk manager is Brilliant&emdash;Larry Brilliant, that is. He also used to own a consulting firm that no doubt inspired trust in its government clients: Brilliant & Associates. I’m guessing Larry took a considerable amount of ribbing about his last name when he was a kid, particularly during roll call (Brilliant, Larry) or if he played sports and made the occasional error (Brilliant, Brilliant!). But I’ll bet that as an adult, his name has always branded him as the top candidate for everything (Our choice for this job is . . . Brilliant).
My daughter, Jessica, and I recently dropped into one of my favorite dreary-weather hangouts, Jamie’s Bar & Grill at 427 Broadway. Jamie’s darkly cozy dcor includes a wall-mounted buffalo head and, at first glance, a cockfight sculpture&emdash;but it’s actually two rubber chickens locked in either a life-and-death struggle or an intense smooch. Maybe it’s both, Jessie suggested&emdash;and one’s giving the other CPR.
I usually like meeting people, but I’ve decided there’s one person I don’t ever want to run into at Vino Volo, the new wine-tasting shop at Sacramento International Airport, before I board my flight: my pilot.