When a global pandemic, climate catastrophe and news of social and political chaos descended upon Berkeley, California in the Spring of 2020, artist and writer L. John Harris put aside all other projects to document the painful, surreal and at times hilarious effects on his community, his home, his mind and body, and on his gustatory pleasures. Harris' Little Plague Journal captures the big story of our Covid-19 pandemic - from March of 2020 through May of 2021 - with witty texts, fanciful illustrations and intimate photographs that will both amuse and console during a dark time on planet Earth.
A native of Los Angeles, California, L. John Harris studied art at the University of California at Berkeley from 1965-1969. Through the 1970's, while working part time at some of Berkeley's legendary food businesses - the Cheese Board, Chez Panisse and The Swallow café - Harris worked as a journalist and wrote The Book of Garlic (1974) which inspired garlic festivals and garlic theme restaurants from California to New York. In 1981, Harris founded Aris Books, a specialty cookbook publisher and in 1988 launched his Foodoodle cartoon byline in several Bay Area magazines. Harris' most recent illustrated book, Café French: A Flâneur's Guide to the Language, Lore and Food of the Paris Café won the 2019 Paris Book Festival award in the travel book category. Harris lives in Berkeley, California in a 100-year-old Bernard Maybeck-designed residence (Villa Maybeck) that serves as a venue for cultural and musical events, many featuring his collection of historic guitars. He is Curator of the Harris Guitar Collection at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
"A fiery collage of texts, photographs, and illustrations offering an intimate record of pandemic life. Harris weaves abundant historical and cultural references into this portrait of a singular time and place framework, capturing for the future his drift of thought in a polarized era...the slim collection preserves a singular moment of rage, fear, and uncertainty." -- Publishers Weekly/BookLife.
"If L. John Harris' Little Plague Journal is shaped by his wildly eccentric sense of humor, this does not lessen the sense that here you will find a revealing mirror of what so many of us felt during the pandemic, separated as we were… isolated in our houses, if not stir crazy, certainly disoriented. Yet, as with the author, if one paid close attention, the mood that occupied us (indeed, some might say, held us captive) had a creative side." - Susan Griffin, author, Woman and Nature, from her Foreword
"A wonderfully wacky ramble through history, art, food – and black humor – in this distinctive memoir of sheltering-in-place. Witty, erudite, and wise, Harris' dead-pan humor and thought-provoking visuals will make you feel so much better about your wasted year." - Valerie Andrews, editor, Reinventing Home
"L. John Harris has given us an invaluable and inimitable fusion of words and images from the heart of Berkeley. His Covid journal will be a vital primary source in the future." - W. Scott Haine, author, The World of the Paris Café
"No Going Back is my subtitle to L. John Harris' must-be-read and brilliant new book of texts and toons, his little journal for this big plague. And why would we? To what unplucked day?" - Jeremiah Tower, chef and author, California Dish