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Based at San Rafael's Falkirk Cultural Center we welcome new poets, established writers, as well as anyone interested in the art of the spoken word.

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You can buy tickets or at our box office. Call (415) 383-9600 or stop by 142 Throckmorton Ave Mill Valley, Hours: 2pm-6pm, Mon-Sat


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Left Coast Writers supports new and established writers in the production and promotion of their work in a stimulating atmosphere of creativity and community. The group meets monthly at Book Passage Corte Madera. Readings at B.P. Corte Madera & San Francisco Ferry Bldg. See or sign up through Book Passage.

California Writers Club "writers helping writers" has almost 20 chapters. The SF North Bay branch is Redwood Writers Club est 1975.

LITQUAKE-SF's Literary Festival

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HOME| THE LITERARY LATTÉ - Stories & Poems | ON MY NIGHTSTAND - Books Reviewed |THE SCENE - Lit Events |SALON - Interviews, Submission, Contacts


This issue we are presenting our favorite beverage - literarily. Get comfy and let the LITERARY LATTÉ stimulate your intellect and emotions:

Poetry by lynn arias bornstein


Ghost Town                                                                            


They came 

pockets full of 


new money

high tech money

hedge fund money

money to buy 

a city 


a sea city

of salt winds and muffled fogs

of budget friendly flats 

bay windows and fireplaces 

hugging the hills – Telegraph and Russian 

of finely aged buildings on

Montgomery and Sansome and Pine

their friezes chiseled and lobbies laid 

by artisans come over the sea

in 1910 from Lucca and Parma

to settle in the city  


a city of

fog horns and clacking cables

screams on the tilt-a-whirl

cheers at Kezar 

Tiny Armstrong’s whistles

the noon whistle 

jazz on Broadway 

sirens in the night


a city of 

businessmen and fishermen  

Acme brewers and Boudin bakers

waiters at Tadich and Jack’s 

car hops at Mel’s and Ott’s

teachers at Lincoln and Burke’s

nuns at St. Brigid and NDV

dentists at 490 Post 

longshoremen and Nob Hill doormen 

and ladies in suits and hats and  

polished kid pumps lunching on

green goddess salad at El Prado 


and shop girls from Magnin’s

and Livingston’s and Liebes 

unwrapping their tuna fish 

sandwiches carefully folded 

in waxed paper while

on the next bench

old men sit in the sun

dreaming old-men dreams 

in the tranquil city garden 

that once existed above 

Union Square garage.


They came 

the entrepreneurs 

and wealth managers

and big time developers

elbowing in, elbowing us 

-- to the curb

mass producing a generic brand

from a city once called

The Paris of the West.


They came

the architectural vandals  

armed with backhoes and

fork lifts and wrecking balls

and pile-drivers creating a din

of ceaseless mindless noise

leveling the fine old buildings

degrading the dignity in work   

of the men from Lucca and Parma

erecting monster monoliths 

each vying for dominance

over the landscape of our city

a displaced city  

cowering in the shadow of a bloated phallus 

sheathed in the cellophane glitter

of hermetically sealed windows --


a thousand foot effigy to .com


(See San Francisco references explained following poems.)

Bornstein yesteryear.



no lethal cells spreading 

or arteries stiffening

or brain matter draining


... no warning


for her

no time for one more

Sunday afternoon --

sips of Bombay gin on ice

as the peach tarts cool

and the rib roast rests 

and the grandkids build a 

fort upstairs with sheets


for him

no time for one more 

courtroom war to win 

in custom suits and Hermes ties 

or victory drinks at Mr. Bing’s

or light affairs in borrowed flats 

with newly minted acolytes 

who worship at his feet.


no hospice care

or death bed oil

or one last thought


... no warning 


warning that the end is coming

coming fast in a Chevy 

in a Chevy fast down Broadway


northbound Jaguar

eastbound Chevy

on a preordained trajectory


... no warning


lynn arias bornstein

BIO : Fifth generation San Franciscan, Lynn Arias Bornstein was educated at the Convent of the Sacred Heart and the Katherine Delmar Burke School*. Her interest in the arts led her to pursue a degree in graphic design from the California School of Fine Arts. She continued her studies in Mexico City in the early 1960’s at a time when that city was a world center of culture and new ideas. Soon after her return to San Francisco, she met and married her first husband, Scot MacInnis. The couple settled in Marin County, where they raised their two children, Jane and Doug, in the historic town of Mill Valley. A community volunteer for over fifty years, one of Bornstein’s primary interests is awakening children to an appreciation of literature and the visual arts. Her novel Laura English was published in 2014. Currently, Lynn is working on a collection of memoir, personal essay and poetry.

* Note: Is San Francisco's K.D. Burke School a literary feeder school? Besides Lynn, bestselling writer Jennifer Egan, MillValleyLit Editor Perry King, journalist/writer Frances Dinkelspiel, and Audrey (Lederer) Wells ( just sadly passed), screenwriter\director who's work includes the 2003 romantic comedy "Under the Tuscan Sun" as well as the screenplay for the new film "The Hate U Give," all attended Burke's, referred to in A Visit from the Goon Squad. See home page intro.

Ghost Town San Francisco references explained by the poet, a native San Franciscan.

NDV is Notre Dame des Victoires on Bush Street near Grant -- one of the most beautiful churches in the city.

El Prado was a restaurant in the old Plaza Hotel on the corner of Post and Stockton. On Monday ladies lunched in the Mural Room of the St. Francis because of the weekly fashion show but other days, when shopping downtown, El Prado was the favorite. Children were taken to lunch at Temple Bar as a treat for behaving while their mothers dragged them shopping for new clothes at Adele Moran and Lanz (girls) and Roos Bros (boys). The greatest thrill was looking at the bones of your feet through the fluoroscope machine at the Junior Boot Shop on California street. 

The reference I was sure might give problems was Tiny Armstrong. He was an eccentric character -- quite plump who wore a beanie topped with a propeller and lots of pins and buttons on his clothes. He tooted on a variety whistles as he strolled around the streets of Union Square.

Livingston and Liebes were high end department stores.  More conservative than Joseph Magnin’s and Ransihoffs.

Additional info: Ott’s Drive-In with a 250 space parking lot, was near Fisherman’s Wharf and featured the first automated ordering system. Kids from Lincoln went to Mel’s Drive on Geary. St. Brigid is a grammar school. Sacred Heart was another grammar school.

short fiction by GRANT FLINT

This short story was written by MillValleyLit Summer 2013 prize winner Grant Flint. Grant went on to win the San Francisco Writers Conference 2013 prize for fiction with the following story, "The Night F. Scott, Papa, Tall Tom, and Wee Willy Faulkner Came To Maxwell Perkins' Birthday Party." Grant sadly passed soon after.


"The Night F. Scott, Papa, Tall Tom, and Wee Willy Faulkner Came To Maxwell Perkins' Birthday Party"



          “No,” I told the reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle, “I don’t have any advice on how a person can live to be 100.

          “Besides, that’s not why you’re here,” I told her. She looked Chinese-American, maybe 30 years old, wore glasses.

          “I told your editor the real story I have. Which is:  I was there the night of Maxwell Perkins' party, his 53rd birthday party. Best editor in the last century. ‘Genius editor of geniuses’.  More important was who was at that party.”


          “Hemingway. Fitzgerald. Giant ol’ Thomas Wolfe. And weird Faulkner. William Faulkner. In one place, altogether. Never before, never again.” 

           She looked at me passively. Like that psychiatrist did a few years back.

          “You didn’t bring a photographer,” I said to her.

          She lifted her iPhone up. “Smile,” she said.

          I don’t know how to pose for a picture. There was a click or flash or both, then she touched something on the gizmo in her hand. “You don’t mind my recording you, do you?” she asked.

          “Not me, I don’t mind,” I told her. “I want you to.”

          “Before you tell me your story—” she said, “when was that? What year? That party?”

          “1937,” I said. “August 11, 1937. Before Hemingway left for Spain again.  Max Perkins’ real birthday was September 20, but the party had to be early.”

          “1937?” Her face didn’t change. “Before you tell me about the party… people want to know,” she said, “what they can do to live to be 100. Any advice?”

          “No. Except maybe have yourself a great, great grandmother like mine. ‘Ol’ Granny. Sandhills of Nebraska. Lacked three days of making it to 100. Had far-vision. What they called it. Could see a wagon coming miles away. Before anyone else.”

          “Yes,” the reporter said.

          “But that’s not why you’re here,” I said. “Shouldn’t be anyway. You’re here about Max. His birthday. And Papa. And Fitz. Wild Tom. And scrawny little Bill Faulkner. The dude.”

          She looked at me. I couldn’t tell what she was thinking. Sitting there on my dingy old brown sofa. Me in my easy chair.

          “People say I couldn’t have been there,” I offer. “76 years ago. Highly unlikely.”

          I looked out my long window, north side of the living room. A scrawny little squirrel, I thought of Faulkner, was chasing another little squirrel, high up in my giant tree, scrambling nimbly from branch to branch. Generations of those little scamps in the years I’ve been here.

          “It was an accident,” I told Amy, the reporter. “One in a million shot. That’s why I’m telling it. Why you’re here. Or why you should be.”

          She waited. There was something unusual about her. “How old are you?” I asked. Old men can ask anything they want.

          “49,” she said.

          “49? You look 30! 49, you’re half as old as me!”      

          She didn’t seem pleased with my compliment. Or displeased.

          “An accident," Amy said. “Why were you at the ‘party’.”

          “Well,” I answered, “like I said, one in a million shot. The lady, the wonderful lady who threw the party, was Maxwell Perkin’s virginal soul mate, Elizabeth Lemmon.”

           She half smiled. “You look 30,” I said. “How old do you think I look? 90? 85?”

          “I don’t know,” she said. “Younger than my grandfather.” Then she smiled.

          “You see,” I told her, “I was only 24 then. At the party? Those writers, they were all about the same age, 37 to 41. Max was 53. Elizabeth, Elizabeth Lemmon, she was 43. A charming, smiling darling. Max, you know, was married to someone else. Had five daughters. That’s why those three writers, F. Scott, Papa Hemingway, and Tom Wolfe, there at the party, were like his sons. The only sons he had.”

          “And you were there,” Amy asked, “How? Why were you there?”

          “Only because Miss Lemmon’s niece, Reba, was my Jenny’s best friend.”


          “My sweetheart. Probably long gone now. Would be 98. I wrote my first short story when I was 22. After reading Thomas Wolfe. Look Homeward, Angel. Then Hemingway. The Sun Also Rises and Farewell To Arms. And Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby and Tender Is The Night. And Faulkner, Sanctuary and As I lay Dying

          Amy nodded.

          “You know those books?” I asked.

          “Yes. Most of them.”

          “Well, I read them, and wrote my first short story about Jenny and me when we were at that beach in Fort Lauderdale. Four days and nights. Took her virginity. Got bad sunburned. There were purple air sacs all over the beach. Rotting ‘Portuguese man-of-war’s. A kid went along poking them with a stick. Little explosions. My first story. I went overseas in the military. Won second prize with that story in the All European Armed Forces short story contest. Beat out a few hundred, they told me.”

          Amy nodded. Impassive face.

          “So Jenny told her best friend, Reba, about that, and Reba told Elizabeth, Miss Lemmon, her aunt. And when I came back from overseas duty, I met Miss Lemmon. Because of Jenny. And Reba. And that’s how I got invited to the party.”

          Amy nodded. She didn’t seem overly sold on the idea.

          “I know,” I said. “Not, on the surface, believable. But there was more to it.”


          “I don’t know exactly...  But I think she had me come to her party--as a peacemaker.”


          “Max had asked Miss Lemmon on three occasions to let two of his ‘boys’, Fitzgerald and Wolfe, stay at her mansion. Wellborne. To dry out from excessive boozing. Get their act together, finish their books.”

          “Yes,” said Amy.

          “And they did that. Fitzgerald three times, Wolfe only once.”

          Amy nodded. Took off her glasses, rubbed her eyes gently.

          “So-- she wanted to honor Max, have his ‘boys’ there, Fitz, Papa, and Wolfe for his birthday. She knew from Max’s letters that Wolfe was about to fly the coop, go to another publisher. And Faulkner? I don’t know. He was thinking of leaving his publisher, Harper’s. Maybe would come to Max. Max would lose Wolfe, get Faulkner. Maybe. Or not."

          Amy nodded.

          “Can I get you a coffee? Only take a minute.”

          “No, thanks,” she said. I wondered how many old coots she had interviewed this way.

          “Anyway – – I think I was there to be a peacemaker. All four of them were alcoholics. Maybe she wanted a hedge. There would be explosions, she knew that. Those four geniuses were like fighters in a winner-take-all, free-for-all. You know? They loved each other. Geniuses. But they hated each other. Love, hate. Only one of them could be the best writer in the world. There had been fights. And makeups. Civilized rage. Those three, Max’s ‘boys’. And crazy Faulkner, the southern, ornery gentleman. And this was Max’s party. I was the fresh blood. Someone they could perform for. Be mildly decent for. She knew it wouldn’t work, she knew that. But I was to be the ‘temporizing’ agent. Hopefully."


          “And she, Elizabeth, thought she could put a framework on that party.”


          “I was to prepare five questions about writing. To ask the great men. To keep them in order. Maybe.”

          “And you did? The questions? And you went there? To the party?”

          “Yes. August 11, 1937. Scared shitless. I mean, very, very frightened. And to make it worse, much worse – I was late. An hour and a half late!”

          Amy seemed maybe almost interested.

          “I was driving there in a borrowed car, a Plymouth. Huge front fenders. fancy hood ornament. Sailing boat, three sails. Little over an hour drive from D.C., I passed Middleburg, was on Highway 50, missed the turnoff, went back, found the gravel road to Welbourne, immediately had a blow out, almost went in the ditch. Had a terrible time trying to change that tire. Strange car, hard to find the tools in the trunk. Got it done, finally, hands all grimy now.

           "Finally got there. Damn near turned around to flee. Very close to it. But drove up that twisting road. Unable to think.  What was I going to do?  Then saw the Mansion. Welbourne. Moonlight now.  Haunted. Six tall, white pillars in front. Very old and elegant.  Friendly, ghostly.

          "Arrived. Brainless. Parked, went up to the door. About gave it up right there. Didn’t even have the nerve to knock. The door opened. It was Elizabeth. Lovely Elizabeth.  Bright, warm blue eyes. 'Welcome,' she said, dear little laugh. I blushed, she took me to the bathroom to wash my hands.  I didn’t look at my face in the mirror. I came out.

          " 'They’re in the library,' Elizabeth said. I followed her there. To meet the four best writers in the world."


by Grant Flint

*Max Perkins photograph by Marc Brenner. **COMIC ART: cropped from Hemingway: Speciale Nathan Never #4, “Fantasmi a Venezia” (“Ghosts in Venice”) 1994.


San Francisco Examiner Image Magazine

June 29, 1986 photo contest issue.


HOME| THE LITERARY LATTÉ - Stories & Poems | ON MY NIGHTSTAND - Books Reviewed |THE SCENE - Lit Events |SALON - Interviews, Submission, Contacts

Literary Latte Authors bio photos from the authors.

**Hemingway COMIC ART: cropped from Hemingway: Speciale Nathan Never #4, “Fantasmi a Venezia” (“Ghosts in Venice”) 1994.

sidebar: San Francisco Examiner Image Magazine June 29, 1986 photo contest issue.

uncredited photos by J. Macon King.

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