Reviews

Writer’s Page Facebook Post
I like to go to writers’ book launch readings. Especially if they are people I know. Our literary culture has expanded to include amateur, i.e. “for the love of it” writers who are penning their memoirs. I see these books as colorful and important contributions to our nation’s history. My friend Catherine Sevenau recently hosted what I thought was the best book launch gathering ever. It wasn’t just because I had the honor of introducing her, that was fun, it was because Catherine, (a graceful dancer) choreographed an evening that included all the right stuff. She spoke from her heart, fearlessly. She invited her handsome grandson to stand by her at the mic and read portions of the text from her family memoir, “Behind These Doors.” She acknowledged the many circles of friends and family and peers who are a part of her life and contributed to the project. And she was funny. Future writers take note: combine these elements when you step up to the mic at the bookstore venues and your audience will respond. We love to hear someone tell us heartfelt, true, soul full stories, it is a precious offering in today’s cyber/techno media mash up. Open the “doors of perception” and the world will be a better place. <3 to Catherine for her courage and perseverance in completing “Behind These Doors.”
Lin Marie De Vincent, Dec 2, 2014
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READERS’ BOOKS NEWSLETTER (Nov, 2104)
Thursday, November 13th 7:00 p.m. Book Launch for Catherine Sevenau to celebrate the publication of Passages from Behind These Doors: A Family Memoir.

Jude, Andy, and Thea of Readers' Books

Jude, Andy, and Thea of Readers’ Books

Full disclosure: Catherine Sevenau is a devoted friend of the bookstore, and she was one of the passionate people who helped us raise money to create the Reading Garden out back. She is also the driving force behind Random Acts, our monthly open mic program that now is celebrating its 5th year. That said, she is also a writer with a deeply personal, at times funny, and often difficult life story to unravel. Fiction is one thing, but a person doing memoir has to be able to find the right balance; for example, they have to contend sometimes, not only with the truth as they remember it, but with the feelings and opinions of still living family members. If you have a perfectly happy upbringing, this is not a problem. But Catherine grew up in a small Northern California town, the child of a working class father and a neglectful—and occasionally institutionalized—mother. Given her circumstances you might imagine that she’d write a rather dark tale. Her book, however, is a testament, not to suffering, but to just how resilient human beings can be. In that sense, then, it’s triumphant. Oh, and did I mention that it’s also funny? I did.
Andy Weinberger
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Op-Ed: Studio 35 where artists of the canvas and of the page converge, Oct 12, 2014, Review of Positively Haight Street, 1968  Digital Journal by Jonathan Farrell

“While I enjoyed all of the poets and their readings, something about Sevenau’s Passages from Behind These Doors: A Family Memoir, had my attention undoubtedly. Her prose spoke of an echo in time that really was not that long ago, yet when adding up the years it is almost half a century. Sevenau talked about that ‘Summer of Love’ and the impact it made upon her family, especially her father for he was a shopkeeper along Haight Street. As she read, words like “hippies” and “social earthquake” and “cosmic peace train” reverberated in my mind. Suddenly I was five years old, seeing my older siblings attired in beads, bell-bottoms and paisley-patterned shirts and blouses.

As Sevenau’s prose mentioned the Vietnam War, the protests and the endless throngs of young people crowding on Haight Street, I could hear my parents and grandparents talking at the breakfast room table, “all those young people all doped up, that’s what’s going on,” my grandma would say. Then my grandfather would add, “bums and long-haired freaks, they need to get a job, doesn’t anybody like to work anymore?”

As Sevenau kept reading, especially as she described what the hippies were doing compared to what her father as shopkeeper expressed, I suddenly recalled that forgotten feeling of being conflicted, even at such an age of five.

There was a lot that happened in the world during that tumultuous time of the 1960s. And, while I was very young, its impression was one that shaped life as we know it today. Sevenau’s description of Haight Street in some ways is still there.

Sevenau’s prose stirred up all that in me. And, I am sure much more was stirred for those in the audience who were part of that scene back in 1967. For Sevenau her recollections in prose were poignant for as 1967 marked the beginning of a new age, it signaled the ending of her father’s five and dime store on Haight Street. And, for Sevenau that time was also an end to the family life she had known with the death of her mother shortly thereafter.”
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Dear Catherine,
Yup, ya got a winner here! I realize this isn’t your novel, but I assume that the parts that will become part of it are your profound recountings of those-that-walked-before you—ah, that DNA stuff. Your characters were in turn sympathetic, intriguing and frustrating, in other words, pure family. You told their tales with insight and compassion, weaving them together with a wonderful fabric of colorful words and observations, and your pace of storytelling was both hypnotic and rhythmic. I was totally caught up and you made me care about the characters that I thought I “knew” and had a long prejudice about (in your defense!) and of course, that’s the way it is… when we know someone, it makes all the difference in our abilities to understand (or tolerate) their behavior as we watch all the strange choices they make in order to get their needs met.

Your tale indeed gives a very brave understanding of who you are (your observations quite strict and fair… so you, you philosopher you!), but most clearly it showed how you “created” yourself “outta scratch” which only serves to make me respect and love you more.

I had a lot of fun with your exposé of Bob… for some reason I didn’t really know all the history. I laughed and laughed. In contrast, it was a darn good thing I had tissues when I read about your sister… I really LOVED the cranes. Wasn’t that miraculous?

Yours poems, your research, amazing… your Capricorn Moon at it’s finest… both precise, as Capricorn energy is, but cardinal… vision, romance and artistic. It’s the part of you that gives the illusion of being aloof, but the reality of being a mushy softy.

Super Moon photo courtesy of Segway NapaYou captured my skittery mind, entertained me, intrigued me, affected me, and enchanted me. Thank you for the honor and privilege of the early read. I LOVED it!

Your friend and your fan,
PJ Tyler

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