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Luis Herrera:Good afternoon. I'm a city librarian, Luis Herrera and its my pleasure to welcome you to San Francisco Public Library and the first day of Tales from Two Cities Riding from California. Terrific audience already and I know its going to build as the two-day session goes on. So we are indeed honored to be hosting the first leg of this two-part cross state conference, which will examine California identity and how it relates to our overarching California literary tradition. Kudos to the organizers for putting together what I know promises to be an extraordinary array of panel discussions, interviews, films and readings that celebrate our literary tradition. So I want to do a shout out to William Deverell and David Ulin for all their amazing work and I know you hear more about them but why dont we give them a round of applause for all the terrific work had done. [Applause] Certainly from Dashiell Hammett to Lawrence Ferlinghetti to Amy Tan to Isabel Allende, the San Francisco bay area has been home to so many writers whose voices bring to life the city we live in. So were very proud of that, and were very proud of the fact that the San Francisco Public Library has always been a place where aspiring and accomplished writers can find space to write, to read other authors and research their books. Right now the library is going through a remarkable transformation and I think many of you may know that I call it a renaissance. Weve had the largest capital improvement program project where 16 of our libraries have been renovated, eight new library buildings. Last year we had over 7 million visitors to our library, and were thriving. So its really a testament to the wonderful support, the literary community that relishes what a public library is all about. You'll find the works of many of the esteemed writers that well be hearing from today and tomorrow and certainly the works are well-represented in many of our shells here at the main library but certainly all our neighborhood branches. And I hope that after you listen to some of the panel discussions and conversations that you take time to visit this beautiful main library. I also want to certainly extend our thanks and appreciation to many folks that help make this possible first and foremost. William Hearst and the foundation for supporting this amazing endeavor. First here in San Francisco and certainly in Los Angeles early next spring. The friends of San Francisco Public Library, I like to also thank them for their wonderful support throughout the life of not only the capital program, but many, many of our programs that we have here in the library. [Applause] Yes, yes, I think it does certainly merit that wonderful support. Fora.tv, thats going to be broadcasting and recording all of the wonderful discussions and certainly our colleagues down south. I'm looking forward to the event thats going to be hosted by the Los Angeles Public Library and the Library Foundation of Los Angeles are partners in this conference. So with that, I take great pleasure in introducing our first speaker, William R. Hearst III, whos chairman of the board for the Hearst Corporation, one of the nations largest diversified media and information companies. He's the grandson of the company founder, William Randolph Hearst. He's also president of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation and director of the Hearst Foundation, which has been engaged in charitable activities for many years and surrounding supporting programs of the foundations for at least the last 20 years. Prior to joining the firm, he served for 10 years as editor and publisher of the San Francisco Examiner, then owned by the Hearst Corporation. He began his career with the Examiner in 1972 as a reporter and assistant city editor. And again, thank you for your support and lets give a big warm welcome to William Hearst. [Applause] William Hearst:Thank you very much. I'm very pleased to be here. I'm Will Hearst and I've spend my life in an around the media business, newspapers, magazines, cable TV and most recently newer media forms enabled by broadband access to everything. The idea for this conference was born several years ago, the Huntington Library, especially in the febrile mind of William Deverell, the author of many works on 19th and 20th century American West, whos now the chair of the Department of History at USC and also the director of something very interesting called the Director of thehe is the Director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the west. Now let me back up a second, the Huntington is a very extraordinary institution. Dont mean in any way to diminish the San Francisco Public Library but if you dont know the Huntington, you really should. It was founded by one of the big four Railroad Barrens and like so many modern philanthropies that we associate with, Rockefeller, Carnegie, and more recently, Gates. The Railroad Barrens actually left behind some great institutions and the Huntington has a wonderful garden of spectacular library. I remember going down there as a young person and kind of looking through the glass case enclosing the first edition of Ulysses and thinking, wow, this is where the stuff is stored. And Bill has organized some amazing conferences at the Huntington, one on Hollywood between the wars, on the studio system and some fabulous speakers and another one that I found interesting on aviation on Southern California. So the Huntington has interpreted the Institute of California and the West very broadly, culturally. So Bill has been thinking about new conferences to do and so one of the ideas that he came up with and talked to me about is theircould we do a western literature, could we do a California literature conference? Is there a distinctive point-of-view in western letters? And if so, has it changed or has it disappeared in this sort of flattened horizontal media world of today. So that's what we want to sort of address and I'm reminded of the famous Saul Steinberg cartoon, you surely have seen it. You can find it on the internet, its called the Center of the Universe cartoon, but its a view of the world from a sort of compressed foreshortened view from Manhattan and in the foreground, there's 9th Avenue, and then the Hudson and then New Jersey and some vague western edge of the continent and beyond there, Japan and China and whatever. So I think one of the ideas of this conference was, what if we could turn that telescope backwards and look eastward from here, and the foreground might be telegraph hill, the bay, then Oakland, on the kind of edge would be something called New York, and then beyond London, Paris, maybe Russia in the far distance. So what would the western point-of-view be and thats kind of where this conference was born. Another inspirer was Kevin Starr whos here and he can later correct my memory if I have this story wrong. But I remember attending a lecture of his when I was a college student and he was putting for the point-of-view that the writings of John Muir should be considered part of the western canon, that not all literature was fiction, that there were many alternative forms, subjects and viewpoints and that if you incorporate it at a larger definition of literature, you could see the western point-of-view more clearly. So Kevin, you are another one of the founders of this idea and so along with Jack London and Mark Twain and Frank Norris and Upton St. Claire. There's also Nathaniel West, Ishmael Reed, Joan Didion, Amy Tan, Wallace Stegner, John Steinbeck, [???][0:08:14.2] Hunter Thompson, and too many others to name. But do they represent a distinctive point-of-view? If a meteorite struck the east coast and the story of American Letters were written by westerners, what would be different? The east surely has its own stars, Melville, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Henry James, Roth, Salinger, Updike and so on, but we have ours. Now the question is, admittedly all these distinctions are abstractions. One could argue that there's only one body of literature. The fact of language is its universality. There might be an English literature but is there really a California literature? As is so often the case, the answer will come from the people who practice it. And so these panels over the next few two days are meant as a survey, a kind of test board into the modern practitioners of western letters. The question posed here will not be settled by the past, but by the future. So lets get started, and let me introduce Bill Deverell who I've described to you who will kickoff our program. Thank you. [Applause] Bill Deverell:Thanks very much Will and Luis both. I come from Los Angeles in peace and with gratitude to so many people and seeing this all come together. Ill be quite brief before turning things over to my partner, David Ulin. First off, my thanks to my collaborator and friend, David Ulin, who, the book critique of the Los Angeles Times, whose knowledge of and passion for wonderful writing gives us the spine of our two-day conference and as well our gathering in Los Angeles in several months time. Philanthropic support as you gathered as well as intellectual encouragement comes from Margaret and Will Hearst, without whom today doesnt happen, and I want to especially acknowledge Will Hearsts curiosity and generosity here. John [PH][Gecky] has again been a paragon of decency and efficiency in helping at every step of the way. And thanks too to Cindy and Blaise who work so closely with John and Will as well. Our host here at the library have been great to work with. Special thanks to Luis Herrera, the librarian, Michelle Jeffers, Michael Henson and Sarah Rosedale as well as the friends in the library organization generally. Elizabeth Logan and Leslie Chang provided stellar organizational help from USC and Oscar Villalon, Laura Cogan and Matthew Zapruder, lent time and ideas at an early stage and are with us for the two days of the conference. Liam Passmore helped get the writing from California word out with great skill, and Jane Ganahl offered ideas, encouragement and collegial support at every turn. Thank you one and all and thank you all for coming. Please do enjoy yourselves and let me turn the podium over to my friend, David Ulin. [Applause] David Ulin:Ill be really brief because I want us to get to the action. But I will also say thanks for welcoming another interloper from Los Angeles. When Bill and I first started talking about these two weekends, the San Francisco one really gave us pause because its not our home territory and we wanted to think aboutwe wanted to think about it from the outside but also make sure that we were trying to think about it from the inside. So I echo all of his thank you to all of the people who helped us. Without them, we would not be able towe would not have been able to pull this off. What I think, thinking about both Northern and Southern California and also thinking about Northern California from a bit of an outsiders point-of-view gave us was a focus and the focus was to think about California as a sensibility. By that I mean, what does it mean to write from California, not necessarily about California. We often have conversations. I've been on many panels. I'm sure many of the people on these panels have been talking about what California literature is. Is there a California literature? How do we define it? Somehow we tend to focus on it in terms of California as a subject. But I've become much more interested in California as sensibility. What does it mean to be from here? What does it mean to live here, to think here, to operate out of here, to see the world from this as our context? And in that sense I think it begins to see just a way that we consider how Northern and Southern California or Eastern and Western California are parts of a whole. We often think not just in California but in many other places, Washington DC, about what keeps us apart as suppose to what brings us together, and I really think that the guiding principle for both this weekend and the second weekend in Los Angeles in a few months is the question of what keeps us together as a suppose to keep us apart. Literature is a conversation. It operates as a dialogue when its working well. Writersthe best writing that is open that allows the reader to inhabit it and to sort of transform it in their own image. Its how we read, this is essential to the process of how we read and I think its essential to the process of how we talk about and think about reading. It seems a strange thing to say but webut literature in readingwe threw literature in reading, we build community. Its one of the great miracles of literature. I think that these two solitary activities. One doctor was called reading in silence and writing in silence, both of which tend to take place in rooms where we sit by ourselves lead to a confluence of the most essential sort. We talk to each other across generations and we talk to each other across space through books and readings. So with that in mind, welcome to the first part of what we hope will be an ongoing conversation about the nature of literature in California and what it means. Thank you. [Applause]