High Kicks & Insects 

In this month's East Bay book news, lawyers go ballistic, gamblers go broke, and Bruce Lee lived in Oakland.

When intellectuals attack: A forthcoming UC Press book has come under fire from Harvard Law School professor and O.J. Simpson murder-trial defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, who claims that De Paul political-theory professor Norman Finkelstein's Beyond Chutzpah ($22.50) -- billed as "an exposé of the corruption of scholarship on the Israel-Palestine conflict"-- includes misinformation and defamation, some of it involving Dershowitz himself. A sequel to 2004's The Holocaust Industry, Finkelstein's latest book, whose main section is titled "The Greatest Fraud Ever Sold," was originally set for publication by the New Press in New York. After Dershowitz wrote to the New Press leveling his charges, Finkelstein switched to UC. Now, with the help of a law firm, Dershowitz has leveled the same charges in missives to Arnold Schwarzenegger and UC. The book's publication date has been delayed. Enmity between the two profs is ongoing: After the release of Dershowitz' 2003 book The Case for Israel, Finkelstein accused him of having plagiarized a third writer's work. Moreover, he devotes a section of his personal Web site to what he calls "The Dershowitz Hoax."

Those cats were fast as lightning: Before soaring to megastardom, Bruce Lee practiced and taught kung fu in Oakland, where he spent the mid-1960s. Sid Campbell and Greglon Lee's The Dragon and the Tiger, Vol. II (North Atlantic, $10.95), brings those late lamented high kicks back to life. Both authors, who will be at Eastwind Books on May 28, knew the master when he ran a studio at 4157 Broadway -- it's Auto Row, now -- with Greglon Lee's dad.

Pokin' fun at school shootings: In The Night Garden (MacAdam-Cage, $23), an artistic single mom makes her living as an exterminator. Back while the novel's artistic author Pamela Holm was attending Fremont's Ohlone College, she was a vandal. "A friend and I painted 25 body outlines all over the campus in the middle of the night," says Holm, who will be at Orinda Books on June 9. "When people started arriving the next day it looked like there had been a mass murder ... people killed on walkways, in stairwells, up against walls." When it was revealed as anonymous black humor, "the best part was that the theater department blamed the art department and the art department blamed the theater department; meanwhile no one cleaned the paint up and it baked into the surfaces, where it stayed for years."

Gone bust: His parents tried to abort him. When that failed, they tried to sell him. He ran with Chinatown gangs as a kid, then survived the 1988 massacre at Sunnyvale's Electromagnetic Systems Laboratories that left seven of his co-workers dead. Now Bill Lee is a recovered gambling addict.

"I hail from at least three generations of compulsive gamblers," says the author of Born to Lose (Hazelden, $12.95). "Being weaned in illegal gambling parlors and placing bets by the time I was eight is unusual, even among gambling addicts." Casinos and day-trading became "my drug of choice. I finally surrendered to the fellowship and embraced the principles of Gamblers Anonymous," says Lee, who worked for several years at a division of Sun Microsystems in Alameda. "Gambling addiction is easier to hide" than other joneses, says Lee, who will be at Eastwind Books on June 18. "Forty percent of all white-collar crime is committed by or for compulsive gamblers.

"Gambling addicts seem to become emotionally stuck at the age when we started gambling. ... For gamblers who get hooked, the objective is no longer about seeking pleasure, but desperate attempts to avoid feeling bad; hence, we settle for not feeling anything at all."

Farms ... in Berkeley? In order to get the Oakland-skyline shot that graces the cover of their book, East Bay Then and Now (Thunder Bay, $17.98), history-buff journalists Eric J. Kos and Dennis Evanosky wangled permission from the harbormaster to ascend the inside of an Alameda silo. "It was pitch-black in there," says Kos, publisher of the Alameda Sun newspaper. "The spiral staircase went eight stories straight up, and there were these interesting crunchy slimy bits on the steps" -- bat guano. The book poises century-old images of local spots (horse-drawn vehicles, stately palm trees, unpaved roads, wide open spaces) alongside panoramic shots showing how they look now.

Get this: Anthropomorphic bugs bebop in Oaklander Steve Lafler's insect-noir graphic novel Scalawag (Top Shelf, $12.95). Eighteen years ago, real-estate agent Oral Lee Brown walked into a first-grade classroom at East Oakland's Brookfield Elementary School and promised two dozen kids that she would pay their college fees. And she did -- as revealed in The Promise (Doubleday, $22.95). On the other hand, some folks will do anything (except coursework) to get a diploma, even if it comes from "Anodyne International University," "Aardvark University," "Julius Caesar University," or PhonyDiploma.com. In Degree Mills (Prometheus, $19), East Bayite John Bear and coauthor (and ex-FBI agent) Alan Ezell unmask a sleazy billion- dollar industry.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Anonymous and pseudonymous comments will be removed.

Latest in Books

Author Archives

Arts & Culture Blogs

Special Reports

The Beer Issue 2020

The Decade in Review

The events and trends that shaped the Teens.

Best of the East Bay


© 2020 Telegraph Media    All Rights Reserved
Powered by Foundation