New East Bay Books About Meditation, Freezing to Death, and More

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Buddha's ears, egrets, and a lethal waterfall: Here's a roundup of some new books with local angles.

Using his sexpertise to solve mysteries, doctor/sleuth Mitch Mitchell beds his way across London after a corpse in a bathtub puts Mitch's best friend/sometime lover Harry in a jam. We previously met this hot-and-heavy pair in The Back Passage and The Secret Tunnel. They're back in James Lear's latest mystery, A Sticky End, new from Berkeley's Cleis Press.

While growing up in Thailand, Danville housewife P.W. Servais saw images of the Buddha everywhere, every day. "Every time you walk out the door, you see one. I remember coming across them in bars even, surrounded by pictures of bikini-clad women. I saw a Buddha head in a shoe store modeling shoe-shaped earrings from each long delicate ear," Servais writes in What Is Your Buddha? Published by Berkeley's Regent Press, it delineates the meanings of the many different poses in which the Buddha is commonly depicted — seated, reclining, receiving honeycomb from a monkey, and so on.

A waterfall plunge turned a pleasant six-man canoeing tour into a harrowing ordeal for the five who survived: clothes frozen solid, deafening icy winds, hunger that was a "nagging devouring of my own flesh from which there is no escape except through death." James Grinnell remembers his permafrost nightmare in Death on the Barrens: A True Story of Courage and Tragedy in the Canadian Arctic, new from Berkeley's North Atlantic Books.

Sold together in a neatly packed box by Berkeley's Heyday Books is artist/naturalist John Muir Laws' collection of pocket-sized wildlife guides. Each guide, which could do double duty as a colorful and informative poster, displays dozens of "things you'll see among the oaks and pines" (rubber boa, oak titmouse, jerusalem cricket, spined woodborer), "things you'll see at the beach and on the bay" (sea rocket, bufflehead, egret, horned grebe), and so on. It's called The Laws Pocket Guide Set.

Eucalyptus, acacia, a famous poet "dead on the last BART train to Concord": Odes to the very ground you walk on fill The Place That Inhabits Us: Poems of the San Francisco Bay Watershed, new from San Francisco's Sixteen Rivers Press. Many of its contributors were or are East Bayites, notably Gary Snyder, Al Young, Czeslaw Milosz, Forrest Hamer, Adrienne Rich, Thom Gunn, Kim Addonizio, Robert Hass (who wrote the foreword), and Josephine Miles.

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