A Heyday for Books: “Deep hanging out” at the Mendocino County Museum

A Heyday for Books:
“Deep hanging out” at the Mendocino County Museum

Book party celebrates 40 years of California-centered publishing
Panel discusses role of Heyday Books in Native concerns

by Roberta Werdinger

Malcolm MargolinKim Bancroft 5 jpeg

On Sunday, October 26th, from 2:30 to 5 pm, a free book talk and cultural conversation will take place at the Mendocino County Museum to mark the publication of Willits author Kim Bancroft’s new book, The Heyday of Malcolm Margolin: The Damn Good Times of a Fiercely Independent Publisher. The book commemorates the 40th anniversary of the founding of Heyday Books, a unique independent press that has become an instrumental sounding board for the diverse cultures present in the state, with a focus on its Native peoples.

Present at the conversation will be author Kim Bancroft; Heyday Books founder and overall raconteur Malcolm Margolin; Lindsie Bear, director of the Berkeley Roundhouse and editor of News From Native California; Priscilla Hunter, representative of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians; Verle Anderson, of the Native American History Project; and Dr. Victoria Patterson, curator of the Museum’s just-opened exhibit on local Native peoples, Woven Worlds. The panel discussion will be followed by a book signing.

“I have anxiety deficit disorder,” Malcolm Margolin told Bancroft, describing why he was able to transform his personal enthusiasms into a thriving publishing venture and cultural magnet for all things California. Every year Margolin and his staff produce 25 books on many aspects of the Golden State’s natural and cultural history, all of them designed and edited with great skill and personal care. This is possible in large part because Heyday is more than just a business, and has its roots in a vital task: the cultural revival and historical reconsideration of the Native peoples of California.

Since producing his seminal book The Ohlone Way: Indian Life in the San Francisco-Monterey Bay Area in 1978, Margolin has traveled up and down the state, engaging in what he likes to call “deep hanging out”: meeting Native Californians and assisting them in documenting their stories. To this end, he and Heyday (the two are often intertwined), along with his friend Vera Mae Fredrickson, founded News From Native California in 1987, a quarterly journal of articles, photos and celebrations from all corners of the state. The journal initially started out as a calendar of events, then grew to become a prominent virtual gathering place and forum for promoting tribal rights for California natives and their friends. Now “News” has become a physical gathering place as well with the advent of the Berkeley Roundhouse, a series of readings and other social events taking place at Heyday’s Berkeley headquarters or nearby venues that focuses on Native culture and concerns.

“I really don’t know what came over me,” Kim Bancroft muses, reflecting on how her informal discussions with Malcolm Margolin on his, and Heyday’s, life and times morphed into the idea for a full-blown book. Bancroft had already worked with Heyday as an editor and oral historian on other projects; earlier this year, she published Literary Industries: Chasing a Vanishing West, an abridged version of the writings of Hubert Howe Bancroft, founder of the Bancroft Library and her great-great-grandfather. Creating this new book– about Heyday and published by Heyday–was thus a doubly fulfilling task for Bancroft, as she got to research and interview the same people who had helped her create Literary Industries.

The Heyday of Malcolm Margolin is at once a portrait of an exceptional person and of the press he founded in 1974 and fostered against all odds. Woven into the story of Margolin’s life are testimonies and reflections from the many people who have published with, worked for, or been affected by Malcolm Margolin and Heyday Books. The book thus becomes a gathering place of its own, providing a proving ground for Margolin’s adage: “I love being warmed by other people’s fires.”

The Mendocino County Museum is located at 400 East Commercial St. in Willits. The Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 am to 4:30 pm. For more information please call 459-2736 or visit www.MendocinoMuseum.org.