Leave it to Beaver

By Mary Ellen Hannibal Every once in awhile, a writer comes upon a book she wishes she had written. For me, this is The Beaver Manifesto, by Glynnis Hood. Hood is Associate Professor at Canada’s University of Alberta. Her slim volume is one of a fantastic series of “manifestos” published by Rocky Mountain Books, and […]

Hanging Fire

By Mary Ellen Hannibal Last night I saw “Waiting for Giovanni,” Jewelle Gomez‘s play about James Baldwin’s struggle over whether to publish Giovanni’s Room. Jewelle is, as her name, one of San Francisco’s literary gems; president of the Library Commission, she works at the Horizons Foundation, which provides social justice support to gays, lesbians, and […]

Seeing Red

By Mary Ellen Hannibal I’ve been writing a book about conservation, climate change and the West, a political map of which is pretty much all red.  Since I was born and raised true blue, and have only ever lived in deeply liberal, coastal enclaves (New York and San Francisco), I really don’t understand those hard-line, […]

Song of South Park

By Mary Ellen Hannibal Last week I went to New York with my 16-year old daughter, Eva, to see my family of origin and to hang out in the city.  Heading into her junior year at San Francisco’s Lowell High School, Eva brought along some of her required reading:  The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, and […]

The Exhausted and the Exuberant

By Mary Ellen Hannibal Since I skipped Susan Sontag‘s introduction to Epitaph of a Small Winner  I did not learn ahead of reading this 1881 novel that the Brazilian author was mulatto and from a humble background, and I would never have guessed it. The apres-mortem voice of Machado de Assis’ novel (originally titled The […]

Light As A….

By Mary Ellen Hannibal The windows of my home office look out onto our very small deck and periodically I am   confronted by a tiny, whirring piece of curiosity come close to check me out:  a  hummingbird.  These most miniature of birds operate on such a fast burn rate that their metabolism essentially flat-lines when […]

The Mystique Goes On

By Mary Ellen Hannibal Recently I sat in on a book group where The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Freidan, was under discussion. The participants were members of the Smith Club of the Peninsula; Smith is Freidan’s alma mater, and her classmates from the class of 1942 were the anonymous respondents to the questionnaire that forms […]

Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out

By Mary Ellen Hannibal Amazing how things turn out. Don Lattin‘s best seller, The Harvard Psychedelic Club, catches a group of remarkable individuals at that seminal crossroads known as the seventies. While maybe an onlooker could have predicted how things would turn out for the merry prankster himself-Timothy Leary-who could have seen the future Dr. […]

Wild Thing

By Mary Ellen Hannibal For those of us sitting in coffee shops or behind desks most of the day, the furious controversy that rages across the West concerning wolves seems bizarre and esoteric. On the one side are some ranchers and hunters who would seemingly like to eliminate wolves from the face of the earth; […]

Butt in Chair, Eyes on Page

By Mary Ellen Hannibal Well, there’s no requisite position for absorbing a sustained narrative, but sitting still helps.  Does nobody hunker down with a big, long book anymore?  Why have we turned into such grazers and twitchers and surface assessors? In The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time, Los Angeles […]