Media Shelf

Books from the Bay Area


Oakland, The Story of a City, Second Edition, by Bath Bagwell with an afterword by Erika Mailman (Oakland Heritage Alliance, 2012, 324 pp., $25)
If you want to bone up on Oaktown history, this is the book for you. The second edition of Beth Bagwell’s Oakland opus, which traces the roots of The Town from pre-1852 to the 1980s and was originally published in 1982, covers the historic territory well, thanks to Bagwell’s thoughtful, compelling prose and keen ability to interweave surprising and memorable historic images from some of these almost-forgotten times. Erika Mailman completes the story with a concise afterward that deftly recounts Oakland’s perils (most notably the Loma Prieta earthquake, the Oakland Hills firestorm and rampant crime), to inspired successes (Mayor Brown’s “10K Plan and Uptown’s resurgence, for example), concluding on a hopeful note: “Each of us can participate in creating the next chapters of Oakland’s history: let’s make them great ones.”

Smoke & DemonsSmoke & Demons, A Tale of Urban Horror, Book 3, by A.J. Harper (A.J. Harper, 2011, pp. 356, $15.99)
Vampires in Oakland, Berkeley and Compton, plus multi-ethnic characters populate this young adult horror tale of dreadlocked, pot-smoking Omari whose nightmares are inhabited by life-threatening demons. The evildoers eventually haunt the sleep of Omari’s sister Jamilah and friend Dragonbrush, and there their odyssey begins. Omari’s world is full of familiar SF Bay Area landmarks such as the Trans America Pyramid, the Bay Bridge, BART stations and U.C. Berkeley where he has puzzling and unfamiliar encounters with drug lords, mad scientists, vampires and demons in a crazy mixed up world. A.J. Harper is Oaklander Adrian Harper who developed the notion of edgy horror fiction in an urban setting with multi-ethnic influences to entertain his daughters, fans of the Harry Potter and Twilight series. Crazy stuff, this.

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