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The Book Launch Party for “Ivy”

Last week was the book launch party for my first published YA Book, Ivy: Homeless in San Francisco published by Reach and Teach, and PM Press. Read on for an excellent account by Artist and Illustrator Brian Bowes.
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Bay Area Switchblade Launch

Last night near downtown Berkeley, a small Victorian house was crowded with well-wishers for the launch of Switchblade Books and the publication of The Jook by Gary Phillips and I-5 by Summer Brenner. Usually, a sizeable party would spill onto the back porch and into the yard, but the night was cold and smokers few.

Next to the wrap-around windows that overlooked the garden was a makeshift bar. There, award-winning mixologist, Jacqueline Patterson, stirred her creation for the occasion: a specialty Switchblade cocktail made with gin, absinthe, and a tell-tale drop of grenadine and served to dozens in a six-ounce martini glass. Walls and floors vibrated with everyone's high spirits.

When Gary and Summer stepped beside the bar to say a few words, the silence was a stunning contrast. Ramsey Kanaan introduced PM Press, the Switchblade imprint, and the two authors to the crowd. Summer opened a copy of I-5 to read a short passage and found herself utterly speechless. However, the moment demanded at least a line or two, and Gary followed suite. Then, like a train car ablaze in the night, the party hurtled on until morning. 

Behind I-5

MARCH 2009

The seed for I-5 was planted by a local news story: the 1999 death of an East Indian teenager, asphyxiated in a Berkeley apartment by a leaky gas pipe. News of the tragedy was unveiled by two persistent high-school journalists, Meg Greenwell and Illiana Montauk, who uncovered that the dead girl, Chanti Prattipati, was "owned" by restauranteur and real-estate mogul, Lakireddy Bali Reddy. What began as a police investigation into a negligent death eventually exposed Reddy and members of his family as subjecting their workers to cruel and inhumane treatment, including sexual favors from minors.

Human trafficking rivals drugs and weapons in profitability. There are books, articles news stories, as well as testimonials from the millions worldwide, living in slavery today. Before beginning I-5, I familiarized myself with the available literature. But what drove the writing? A memory of myself, four years old, unspeakably threatened when an osteopath stroked my arm and reported to my mother -- it's perfect -- his leering flattery conveying total domination. As the bombs fell on Baghdad in 2003, something furious catalyzed. From these ashes and crumbs, I-5 was begun.

APRIL 2009

Written as noir thriller, beneath I-5's stylishness is an expose of the sex trade as the logical and ultimate exploit of capital.


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