22 April 2008

Straight Outta Boonville

Anyone who's been reading my stuff for very long will have heard me speak of Bruce Anderson, the feisty contrarian who rose to a somewhat checkered fame in the 1980s as the editor of one of the only American newspapers worthy of the name and/or as the small town editor who punched out the Superintendent of Schools and was sent to the slammer for his pains.

Over the years Bruce has done virtually everything possible, including but not limited to alienating virtually every humorless hippie from Cloverdale to McKinleyville, to stop himself from enjoying the sort of commercial or political success you would expect to accrue to a man of his monumental talents, and when I say monumental, I'm talking Mount Rushmore-sized monumental. I doubt he will ever be fully appreciated until he's stomped off to that great Editorial Bunker in the sky, but when he's on a roll, he can give Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken a run for their money as a chronicler of human foibles.

Anyway, as noted here not too long ago, Bruce has, after a period of self-imposed exile in the wilds of Oregon, returned to his rightful place at the helm of the Anderson Valley Advertiser in storied Boonville, California, but apparently that's not all he's been up to: this past month saw the publication of his first (as far as I'm aware) book, The Mendocino Papers (Vol. 1). I just got my copy, and although I'm only about 50 pages into it thus far, I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who was ever even slightly amused or enthralled by Bruce's unique take on Mendocino County, human nature, the international communist revolution or any permutations or affiliations therefrom.

It looks to be a strictly DIY affair, so there are a fair few typos and it doesn't always flow as jointedly (I'm doubt that's a real word, but it gets the job done) as it might were a professional book editor involved, but those are minor quibbles: Bruce's legendary storytelling abilities are in full effect as he tackles the tragic and comic aspects of Mendocino County history, focusing primarily on the depredations of the original white pioneers and those of the locust-like hippie hordes who followed a century later, seasoned with the frequent acerbic asides and digressions that have always made the AVA a ray of blinding sunlight in the obfuscatory miasma that passes for contemporary American journalism.

Order it here, and while you're in the neighborhood, why not pick up a subscription to the AVA as well. For about 75 cents a week you get the best newspaper in America, or at least the most entertaining. This is a good chance for all of you who think I was making up or at least greatly exaggerating my own stories about life in the North Coast/Emerald Triangle of Northern California to discover that you haven't even heard the half of it.

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