Our Laguna: Local authors featured at Friends of the Library event

November 03, 2011|By Barbara Diamond
  • A man comes out of the Friends of the Library book shop underneath the Laguna Beach Public Library on Glenneyre Street.
A man comes out of the Friends of the Library book shop underneath… (FILE PHOTO, Coastline…)

Writers are not always the most articulate speakers, but the two featured authors at the Friends of the Library annual dinner at Aliso Creek Inn on Oct. 27 are graced with both talents.

Ed Kaufman, author of "From Monks to Mountain Gorillas," and Phil Doran, who wrote "The Reluctant Tuscan," are local treasures.

Kaufman's book covers parents' and kids' rites of passage, both literally and figuratively, gleaned from almost 10 years of traveling with his wife, Karen, and their son Adam, the youngest of Kaufman's three sons.

"Adam was 7 when we took him to Africa, so I thought I might write a book to show people they could travel with a child and have a good time," Kaufman said. "Our second trip was a raft down Grand Canyon.

"The following year we returned to Africa."

In 2009, the family visited Botswana and the next year Indonesia.

The family has been to Costa Rica and the Himalayas, and has participated in ancient rituals in Ethiopia.


Adam, a Laguna Beach High School student, is writing his essay for college applications on how the trips impacted his life.

Kaufman's talk was punctuated by photographs taken by his wife on their trips.

Although Kaufman has a master's degree in creative writing and hosts "Dime Stories," a series of three-minute readings by local writers, he moved to Laguna to work in the UC Irvine Department of Psychiatry. He eventually became director of the Genesis Program at South Coast Hospital (now Mission Hospital) and served on the board of ACTION, an AIDS support group in town.

Kaufman is on Friendship Shelter's clinical advisory board.

Other community activities included coaching AYSO and co-chairing the Community Learning Center, an alternative program for children in the first through fourth grades.

Doran and his wife, Nancy, split their time between Laguna Beach and Tuscany, where they renovated a centuries-old home — the inspiration for his book.

"The Reluctant Tuscan" has been published in seven languages, although not in Italian — an attempt to maintain amicable relations with the couple's volatile Italian neighbors.

"Tuscany is beautiful, heaven on earth — until you have to get something done," Doran said. "Good morning is a two-hour conversation."

He was dragged kicking and whimpering to Italy by his wife, a sculptor, who has 12 pieces in UC Irvine's sculpture garden.

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