A Guide to Bars and Nightlife in the Sacred City

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About the author:
Benjamin Wachs is the bar columnist for the San Francisco Weekly. His work has been published in Village Voice Media, on National Public Radio, and in numerous newspapers and magazines.

During college Wachs lived in a Buddhist monastery in India. After dropping out of graduate school, he worked as a freelance nightlife reporter for Playboy.com. Traveling around the world, he wrote about bars for money and spontaneously sang sacred music in some of history's greatest cathedrals.

This is his first collection of fiction.

A Guide to Bars and Nightlife in the Sacred City

Authored by Benjamin Wachs

"I was traveling across America, and then Europe, and then Russia, and then the Middle East," author Benjamin Wachs says of these 26 remarkable tales, "waking up each morning not knowing which city I would fall asleep in. Cities became pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, connecting in ways that you could not see on a map, to reveal the secret order of the universe."

While these fictional accounts had their visible beginnings in a freelance journalist's world travel, they had their inner beginnings in the fertile workings of a remarkable mind. My own sense of the author, watching him in my writing workshops in San Francisco week after week spin these remarkable, wry, otherworldly tales with the fluid ease of a savant, seemingly unaware of his own genius, is that he is doing something notable and unusual, and it is for that reason that we committed to publishing this book.

Among the tales I am most fond of are "Thanatos Cuisine," in which a chef creates dishes too hot to endure yet too delicious to turn down, and "Feeding Time," about the choices a brilliant homeless outcast forces upon those who try to help him. "Childhoods on Display in Boston" evokes our cultural hunger for a neatly commodified past; finally, perhaps my personal favorite, "Some of the Social Issues Surrounding Jazz," blows a sad eulogy for a great American art form that loses its roots in the street the more it is celebrated in the university.

Almost all these tales originated in the San Francisco workshop, springing astonishing and fully formed in our living room, with that Benjamin Wachs aura of magical, unconscious coming-into-being, a crystalline fragility fused with intellectual rigor and challenge.

"If we tape enough heartfelt wishes on streetlights and leave enough dreams on the curb, anything can happen," Wachs says in his preface. "Millions of souls in crowded neighborhoods praying beneath the surface of their daily lives lead to manifestations of the miraculous and infernal just around the corner. A block of Paris where fire dancers spin outside Notre Dame connects to a sliver of Chicago where angels dance in a speakeasy, that attaches to miraculous Thai food in London, and to a faith healing in San Francisco, to an architectural marvel in Moscow and a tantric revelation in New Orleans, to a lost opera in Vienna and a resurrection in Pittsburgh, and the perfect couch appearing on Craigslist in Toronto. Never stopping. This is the Sacred City."

-- Cary Tennis, publisher

Publication Date:
0979327075 / 9780979327070
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
6" x 9"
Black and White
Related Categories:
Fiction / Short Stories

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