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05.21.08

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Phaedra

Dividing Lines

Michael Ondaatje and Jesse DeNatale's inspired pairing

By Gabe Meline


A s one of the only bookstores in America with a New Year's resolution, Point Reyes Books is part of a dying breed of down-home, independently owned stores carrying both used and new titles and catering to the needs of its local community. This weekend, Michael Ondaatje (above), acclaimed author of The English Patient and In the Skin of a Lion, appears to celebrate the bookstore's sixth anniversary, a testament to this writer's keen radar for small, independently owned businesses. Point Reyes Books is far too small a room for Ondaatje's many admirers to fit into, so in the charmingly rural spirit of West Marin, the shindig will get underway at the local feed store.

Ondaatje's latest is Divisadero, a wandering novel that begins on a family farm near Petaluma in the 1970s and takes the reader across time and place, from the backrooms of Nevada casinos to the hills of south-central France. Family, love and memory are all explored with Ondaatje's intricate prose, and an explosive event 30 pages into the book hangs over the pages, irreconcilable as dividing lines, while each decade-spanning episode unravels a subtle context.

Appearing with Ondaatje is Jesse DeNatale, no stranger to subtle context himself. DeNatale is a bona fide California treasure whose 2006 album, Soul Parade, stands alongside Ondaatje's works in terms of construction and restraint. Infusing the golden age of Brill Building songwriting with a troubadour's clang, DeNatale brings the dark confines of life to a radiant glow through taut lyrics and loose arrangements. The pairing of these two great artists is inspired; don't miss it on Saturday, May 24, at Toby's Feed Barn, 11250 Hwy. 1, Point Reyes Station. 7:30pm. $20. 415.663.1542.


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