On my Nightstand


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Christie Nelson's historical fiction Beautiful Illusion, "Breakout Novel of 2018" - Indie Picks Magazine. These books by local authors are reviewed directly after Jeb's column.



The Drive Time Readerby Jeb Harrison

Audiobooks: Not the Latest, but Some of the Greatest

Road Trippin' with Papa


Papa at home in Cuba. Pamplona, 1925, with the real Brett (Lady Duff Twysden), first wife Hadley, Cohn (Harold Loeb), and The Sun Also Rises gang. Ernest Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises" has never been out of print since it was published in 1926. Original cover below.

Editor's Note: Our Hemingway Connection: Ernest Hemingway's son Jack, and grand-daughters Mariel and Margaux lived in Mill Valley's Boyle Park area in the 60's (photo below). Papa's nephew lives in Tiburon and is an editor and writer.

Road Trippin' with Papa

One of the great things about road tripping with audiobooks is no matter how shitty is might be out there, listening to a great story can transport you body and soul to a better place.

Our summer road trip - from Marin through the Free, White State of Jefferson, northwards to Portland, the Columbia Gorge, south to Bend, then southeast to Lake City (look it up - truly a ghost town in the middle of a lost paradise), Graeagle, Bishop, then west to Ojai and back up the coast - was, for the most part, either choked with wild fire smoke or scorching hot. In Grants Pass, for example, it was 103, the sun was orange and I'm told there is a beautiful river nearby. 

So, instead, we time-traveled to the Italian alps, Lake Como, Paris, Pamplona, the Spanish Sierra and finally to the Gulf Stream off Cuba with the four great novels of none other than Ernest "Papa" Hemingway: A Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls,  and The Old Man and the Sea. 

Still thirsty - Pamplona, 1959. And still writing.

Each of these timeless stories are flawlessly, passionately narrated by the best in the business, and if, like me, you haven't revisited Hemingway since the pre-PC/internet dark ages of the seventies, (back when the merit of an author's work was judged in the cultural context of the time it was written, unlike today), you owe it to yourself to set aside whatever posthumous judgements been made of Papa's literary contributions and revisit these historic novels. 

Audiobook aficionados will recognize the distinct styles of John Slattery in A Farewell to Arms and Campbell Scott in For Whom the Bell Tolls. And everybody will recognize the voices of William Hurt (The Sun Also Rises) and Donald Sutherland (Old Man and the Sea.

Whether we were tooling up I-5 through the nearly invisible Siskiyous, winding across the vast and deserted country of southern Oregon on what might be the world's loneliest two-lane blacktop, screaming down 395 in the shadow of the eastern Sierra, rambling through the fire-ravaged hills of Ojai, or snaking our way up Highway One, it was easy to visualize - if not get totally lost in - Hemingway's iconic stories. 

I think we were pulling into Weed when the love-struck "tenente" was rowing through a rainstorm on the waves of Lake Como with Catharine Barkley in A Farewell to Arms. On the road to the Columbia Gorge, Lady Brett Ashley fell for the graceful moves of the young matador in Pamplona, while poor old Robert Cohn was beating the crap our of Jake and his buddies in The Sun Also Rises. Outside of Bishop, we saw Pilar emerge from behind a rock, screaming that we could "obscenity in the milk of thy mother," while Robert Jordan and his Spanish Republican guerillas skulked through the Sierra, forever wondering For Whom the Bell Tolls. Finally, just outside Big Sur, the old man landed the big fish, only to have it ravaged by evil sharks in The Old Man and the Sea. 

After our road trip, we headed across the pond to South France and Barcelona. (I had wanted to visit the Iberian Peninsula - Pamplona, San Sebastián, Seville, Madrid, Valencia - Papa's old stomping grounds - but family ties in southwest France dictated a different itinerary.) Imagine how surprised I was to see the bull rings in Cazaubon, Mont de Marsan, Beziers and other small towns in Languedoc! Visions of Pedro Romero and the true aficionados of the corrida came to mind (though in Languedoc they don't kill the bull. Not sure if they Van Gogh the bull's ear.)

Later, in Barcelona, we found ourselves surrounded by marching, singing, shouting Catalans festooned in orange and yellow stripes while helicopters circled overhead and Spanish riot squads roamed the streets. I was reminded of the Spanish Civil War and the long history of conflict on the Iberian Peninsula. Lluis Companys, one of the leaders of the Republicans (the left, ironically enough, vs. Franco's fascists) was executed at the fort atop Montjuic, and one of Barcelona's biggest, grandest plazas now bears his name. 

Of course you don't need to be wandering behind the wheel to revel in Hemingway, or any of the classics for that matter, via audiobook. But if you do happen to hit the highway for an extended sojourn, or make arrangements to trace the steps of Jack Henry, Jake Barnes, Robert Jordan and Santiago the Fisherman, these audiobooks will make excellent company!


Son, Jack Hemingway's home in Mill Valley, CA.

The Amazing Papa. Hemingway's work are not only now read as Historical Fiction, but Papa's world has created a cottage industry of Historical Fiction: Hemingway's Girl, The Hemingway Thief, The Paris Wife, Mrs. Hemingway, and many more.

Beautiful Illusion - Treasure Island 1939

When hearts collide – MillValleyLit's frequent contributor Christie Nelson’s haunting story of love, deception and World War II. "Nelson's dazzling portrayal of Treasure Island’s world fair and the late 30’s San Francisco, blends the fast pace of a thriller while transporting us back to an era of pre-WWII enthusiastic innocence. Cub reporter Lily shows her moxie through the rise of the grandest San Francisco fair, ever. Her complicated attraction to the shadowy Imperial Japanese diplomat, Tokido, parallels the country’s deference to Japan, even as their violence loomed across the Pacific. Set against Lily’s conflicted relationship with the scholarly dwarf, Woodrow, and her own dodgy family, the novel revels with authenticity and historic figures.” - J. Macon King, Publisher of The Mill Valley Literary Review.

See Christie's Greek travelogue in The Scene.

Christie Nelson in vintage dress for her popular speaking engagements - here at Polo Club in Oakmont, CA, for Sonoma UC Alumni Club. Her third novel is a meticulous homage to 1939's San Francisco Treasure Island World Fair.


by San Francisco based Christopher Moore: "Think Raymond Chandler meets Men in Black with more than a dash of the Looney Tunes All Stars. It’s all very, very Noir. It’s all very, very Christopher Moore." (April 17, 2018)

Christopher Moore tip for writers: "When you start out you're told to "write what you know" but as you write a few books, you run out of things that you know and you have to write things you'd LIKE to know, so that's where those stories come from. Since I write comedy, which is sort of reactive for me, I use the research and travel to spur the comedy as I react to new information I'm learning. So really, it's comedy that became "my thing" and the research became the catalyst for it."


Montana Rhapsody

A novel about a pole dancer, a farmer, and a canoe. Susanna Solomon's third book, and first novel, launched (with an actual canoe paddle in hand!) at Book Passage in September. Montana Rhapsody is a romp through the wilderness with five disparate characters, all of whom want something—and all of whom are challenged in ways they never expected by their time on the river. San Anselmo, CA resident Susanna, was the first MillValleyLit writing contest winner and became a regular contributor.

Drunken Angel: A Memoir

The book chronicles (San Francisco's) Kaufman’s headlong plunge into the piratical life of a literary drunk, and takes us shamelessly through noirish alleyways of S&M sensuality, forbidden pleasures and pitfalls of adultery, the thrilling horrors of war, plus raging poetry nights, mental illness, homelessness, literary struggle and his strange, magnificent rise into a sobriety of personal triumph as crazily improbable as the famous and notorious figures he meets along the way. (web promotion)


Bohemian Heart

"Epic....Dalessandro writes like a reincarnated Dashiell Hammett... more than a mystery, a riff into a storybook city's heart of darkness...hands down the most colorful San Francisco character since Dirty Harry...." Marvin Wolf, Los Angeles Daily News. "Energetic prose and stylish inventions..." San Francisco Chronicle.

"Peekaboo" Frankie Fagen is a long-haired, leather-jacketed private detective, best known for his unconventional methods and the Norton Commando he rides through his beloved San Francisco. See our interview with former San Franciscan, Marin County transplant, author James Dalessandro here.

From Page to Stage

Betsy Graziani Fasbinder is an award-winning novelist and memoirist as well as a public speaking coach. The Marin County based whirlwind produces "Words Off Paper" multi-author events in the Bay Area (such as the recent Copperfield's production below). From Page to Stage is her third published book.

"Fasbinder's candid yet comforting delivery makes it feel as though she's with readers every step of the way, offering a thumbs-up from the back of the room." Kirkis Review. 

“Betsy has a way of making public speaking less foreign and more fun. She gives you intuitive tools that are memorable and easy, and makes the process enjoyable as well. With what she teaches, I felt immediately improved and infinitely more poised.”
―Kate Perry, internationally best-selling author.

BETSY GRAZIANI FASBINDER's Words Off Paper with COPPERFIELD’S Books presented authors: CHRISTIE NELSON, J MACON KING, JEB STEWART HARRISON, BONNIE MONTE, SANDS HALL in June 2018. Sands Hall at LitQuake to read from her Scientology memoir Flunk. Start.


Betsy Fasbinder's crew was happy to be in the SF Chronicle's Pink Section next to Jennifer Egan (despite the sic -should be Words Off Paper.)



Chapala Gardens on rooftop in Santa Barbara, operated by Joy & Sandy Kelly. Green food and edible flowers are distributed to the needy.

Grow 20-36 vegetables in aeroponic vertical tower on your deck!

Kit to garden in weeks! Read more about the numerous advantages of Tower Garden »



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


On My Nightstand © by J. Macon King

© MillValleyLit. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material without permission is strictly prohibited.

Nelson author photo by author.

Hemingway: Hemingway Collection, JFK Presidential Library, web source.

Hemingway home by J. Macon King.

Uncredited non-ad photos by J. Macon King.

All writing, submissions, and comments are the views of the respective authors and interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the views of MillValleyLit or Editorial staff.