Finding Berkeley in literature

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Berkeley is a pretty great place to be, and we’re not the only ones who think so. After all, why would you give your ridiculously cool fictional characters degrees from Cal if you didn’t? If you’re into arts and literature, you probably get just as excited as the Clog does whenever you come across a book that mentions Berkeley, no matter how short-winded the reference. You probably begin to feel a tingling sense of camaraderie, an immediate respect for the book’s author and a sudden increase in overall satisfaction. If you’ve been denied this experience, we at the Clog are here to help. Below, we give you four books whose leafy pages ooze love for Berkeley.

1) “Jurassic Park” by Michael Crichton

We’re pretty sure that you know this story about cloning dinosaur DNA, but did you know that Crichton made at least two references to UC Berkeley within the novel? He wrote that, “… Grant was aware of serious speculation in laboratories in Berkeley, Tokyo and London that it might eventually be possible to clone an extinct animal such as the dinosaur …” and that “… Roberta Hess … formed the extinct DNA Study Group at Berkeley…” Pretty cool, huh?

2) “Telegraph Avenue” by Michael Chabon

“Telegraph Avenue” was released last September, and as you may have already discerned by utilizing your superior Cal analytical skills, Berkeley is no stranger to its pages. You’ve probably heard about it, but we just wanted to tell you that it mentions Cheese Board. “I mean, tell me,” Chabon writes, “why should we have to go all the way up to North Berkeley, there, to go to the Cheese Board for the top-quality cheese product?”

3) “The Dharma Bums” by Jack Kerouac

“The Dharma Bums” is based on events that occurred after “On the Road,” and we think that Kerouac described Sather Tower beautifully when he said, “It was a cool clear Arabian Night dusk with the tower clock of University of Cal a clean black shadow against a backdrop of cypress and eucalyptus and all kinds of trees, bells ringing somewhere, and the air crisp.”

4) “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” by Robin Sloan

In “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore,” the main character’s got quite the best friend. Lovable, loyal, geeky, rich and the CEO of a company that strives to code lifelike boobs for video game producers. In fact, he created “his breakthrough boob simulation software when he was a sophomore at Berkeley, and shortly after that he licensed it to a Korean company …” Sloan also nods to Cal’s archaeology department and the FSM.

Not too shabby, Berkeley, not too shabby.

Image Source: Alex Eylar, under Creative Commons