Meg Wolitzer is the type of novelist you want to be BFFs with. She’s utterly hilarious, warm, incredibly sharp and insightful, a natural born teacher, and comes up with the best turns of phrase. She sat down on April 22 with Molly Antopol, author of the UnAmericans, to talk shop, share stories about her own camp experiences and how it shaped her, and discuss characters and themes of her fabulous 10th novel, The Interestings.
Katie Hafner’s description of what happened when she moved her aging mother in to live with her and her teenage daughter (Mother, Daughter, Me)inspired a largely female audience members) to reflect on their own relationships with their mothers. A funny, sad, moving evening and perfect pre-Mother’s Day event.
It’s hard to believe it’s been four years since David Grossman’s last visit to the JCCSF. We caught up with him on Friday, May 9 when he came to town to talk to Peter Orner about his meditation on parental grief, Falling Out of Time. Stripped of conventional narration and description, Grossman’s book reads more like a play than a novel, but with all the dialogue written in free verse. He read passages in the original and in translation and spoke about the limits of language, as well as caught us up to date on the situation in Israel. It was a moving evening.
In 2009, three University of California, Berkeley graduates were arrested on espionage charges in Iran when they were lured over the border from Iraqi Kurdistan, where they were hiking. Imprisoned for as long as 26 months, they became known as “the hikers,” and their story captivated the world. Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal, and Sarah Shourd joined the JCCSF for a sold-out conversation on their experiences, as recounted in their beautifully-written memoir A Sliver of Light. There was so much to discuss—from the dramatic facts of their capture and imprisonment, to the psychological toll of solitary confinement, to their strong inner resolve and terrific recent work as advocates for prisoners worldwide. The conversation was expertly moderated by UCSF professor Chanan Tigay.
KISS fans filled Kanbar to capacity and greeted Paul Stanley with a thunderous ovation when he appeared April 25 in conversation with the Chronicle’s pop music critic Aidin Vaziri. Stanley spoke frankly about being born with only one ear and the impact that had on his life, the break-up of the original band, and his feelings (cynical at best) about KISS’s acceptance into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. Funny, thoughtful, candid, he was a very classy rock star. And very generous with fans afterwards as he posed for pictures up till the minute he was whisked away to fly back to L.A.
On March 19, Simon Schama was joined onstage by Adam Hochschild to talk about The Story of the Jews, Mr. Schama’s multimedia account of Jewish history from 1000 BCE to present times. He also showed clips from the five-part PBS documentary series. Although Judaism is the only religion that commands us to remember for future generations, Mr. Schama is determined to portray Jewish history not as a history of suffering or Jews as a people apart. It was an entertaining evening with two charming intellectuals on subjects usually discussed reverentially.
IDEO Founder and CEO David Kelley kept an audience rapt with his revolutionary simple notions of humanizing design and unleashing the creative potential within us all. Interviewer Douglas McGray was a perfect partner to help us explore Kelley’s life and work. Several in attendance said that “it was an honor to be in the same room with him.”
The second in the three-part Manovill Conversations – Reporting Israel: The Personal, the Political & the Press took place on Thursday, February 20, with Haaretz’s editor-in chief, Aluf Benn and Bloomberg Views’ Jeffrey Goldberg. The focus was foreign affairs and the shifts on the geopolitical landscape as a result of American Iranian détente, American policy toward Syria, the rise of the BDS movement, and Kerry’s renewed peace process. They also addressed American Jewry and its relationship with Israel.
Investigative journalist Gabriel Sherman’s The Loudest Voice in the Room: The Inside Story of How Roger Ailes and Fox News Remade American Politics has been the subject of much comment, speculation and accusation in the press and online. Sherman spent more than two years covering Fox News, working as a contributing editor for New York magazine and reporting for the book.
Michael Gerson , Op-Ed Columnist, Washington Post
The Republican Party has seen its share of fractures, factions and disruptions of late. Some in the party openly suggest that rift s within are caused by anti-government extremists; others, especially younger members, complain that the GOP has become closed-minded, inflexible and old-fashioned. Michael Gerson weighs in on how the Republican Party can build internal consensus on what it stands for and who is best poised to lead the charge.