Orange Is the New Black, Piper Kerman’s New York Times bestselling memoir chronicling her year as an inmate at a women’s prison, is Cuesta College’s 2014 Book of the Year. Now a popular Netflix original series by Weeds creator Jenji Kohan, the book is a quieter, more reflective account of Kerman’s experiences. In exchange for the show’s high drama, readers of the book are treated to a deep intimacy with the “real” Kerman (albeit mediated by memoir). The show is decidedly a comedy, but the book is a serious effort to chronicle what was clearly a seminal experience in the author’s life. Kerman’s writing is earnest and straightforward, with a definite eye toward accessibility.
If, like me, you’re reading the book after having watched the first season of the series, comparisons between the two are irresistible, and often surprising. One notable line, “You got those TV titties!! They stand up on they own all perky and everything!,” makes a delightful appearance in the text. Yet it’s not disappointing when the two (frequently) diverge—instead it provides the reader/viewer with two rich and distinct entertainment opportunities, rather than one.
Unfortunately, Kerman’s lecture at the CPAC sold out more than a month prior to the event, though Cuesta says there will be a stand-by line for unclaimed tickets. However, a full list of Book of the Year events around the county—including a panel discussion with Sheriff Ian Parkinson, a screening of the film The House I Live In, and book discussions at local libraries—is available at library.cuesta.edu/book.
And speaking of Cuesta and the arts, remember pool ’63, the theater department’s original “devised theatre” production based on civil rights struggles in 1960s Birmingham, Ala.? Director bree valle, Philip Valle, and the members of the company have just received a number of awards from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, including Outstanding Production of a New Work, Outstanding Production of a Devised or Company Generated Work, Outstanding Lead Devisor/Director of a Devised Work, Outstanding Performance and Production Ensembles, and Outstanding Costume Design. Congratulations, cast and crew of pool ’63! True experimentation is one of the theatre’s most important jobs and also one of its most harshly judged ones—it’s refreshing to see it rewarded.