Friday, August 23, 2019

Eight top San Diego books

Patrick Coleman makes things from words, sounds, and occasional pictures. His debut collection of poems, Fire Season, was written after the birth of his first child by speaking aloud into a digital audio recorder on the long commute between the art museum where he worked and his home in a rural neighborhood that burned in the Witch Creek Fire of 2007. It won the 2015 Berkshire Prize and was released by Tupelo Press on December 1, 2018. His short-form prose has appeared in Hobart, ZYZZYVA, Zócalo Public Square, the Writer's Chronicle, the Black Warrior Review, Juked, and the Utne Reader, among others. The Art of Music, an exhibition catalogue on the relationship between visual arts and music that he edited and contributed to, was co-published by Yale University Press and the San Diego Museum of Art. Coleman earned an MFA from Indiana University and a BA from the University of California Irvine. He lives in Ramona, California, with his wife and two daughters, and is the Assistant Director of the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at UC San Diego.

Coleman's new book, his first novel, is The Churchgoer.

One of the author's top eight San Diego books:
Brit Bennett, The Mothers

I grew up in Oceanside, the northernmost town in San Diego county. It’s where the bulk of The Churchgoer is set. While I was working on it, I was thinking about all the complications and contradictions in even just this one small-ish corner of San Diego, and what those complications have to say about the region, the state, and the country we live in. At that point, Oceanside had mostly been known as the home of Charlie’s house in Top Gun and the setting for a key cheerleading competition in Bring It On.

Then came Brit Bennett’s The Mothers, a beautiful, tender portrait of a young black girl in Oceanside grieving after her mother’s suicide. She falls for the pastor’s son and gets pregnant, and the chorus of mothers at the church tut-tuts along with her story as she weighs an abortion against her faith, a close friend, and the social pressures of her community (for outsiders, San Diego can be startlingly conservative). Written with a subtle but incisive sensibility, The Mothers gives us an Oceanside, a San Diego, and an America in literature that we need more of.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue