Alix Ohlin at Skylight Books

OK, I’ve been bad lately about getting to my monthly literary calendar. As in: I haven’t posted one for nearly a year. Sorry. And thanks to those who missed my posts and inquired.

I nearly got my act together earlier this month because I wanted to help promote Steve Almond‘s appearance at Skylight Books with his new story collection God Bless America (which includes “Donkey Greedy, Donkey Gets Punched,” featured in the most recent Best American Short Stories). And now comes along one of my very favorite short story writers, Alix Ohlin, appearing tomorrow (June 21, 7:30) at Skylight Books with both a new novel and a new story collection. I discovered Ohlin in the 2005 edition of Best American Short Stories–her story “Simple Exercises for the Beginning Student” is a small miracle. I then went on to read and review her collection Babylon & Other Stories.

Ohlin’s new collection, Signs and Wonders, is drawing praise from the likes of Joy Williams, Richard Bausch and Jim Shepard. And the new novel, Inside, was just named Book of the Week by none other than Oprah. She’s deservedly getting a lot of press these days, including this nice write-up in The Globe and Mail. Along with Richard Ford, she was featured earlier this week on the new Los Angeles Review of Books show on KCRW.


Literary LA August ’11

A light calendar as most literary venues scale back for the month:

  • Thurs 8/4 7pm, John Burnham Schwartz comes to town with his novel Northwest Corner, which revisits many of the characters from his earlier bestseller Reservation Road – at Book Soup in West Hollywood.
  • Fri 8/5 7pm-10pm, the Highland Park art gallery and performance space Public Fiction presents the debut issue of a new literary journal of the same name, featuring some good names like Trinie Dalton (Wide-Eyed). The event will feature negronis, beer and wine; live DJ set and other performances – 749 N. Avenue 50 (corner of Ave 50 and Aldama). [Event info is not up at their website, but if you click on the About link you can sign up for email alerts]
  • Sat 8/13 5pm, readings from Fire in the Moonlight, an anthology of writings from the “radical faerie” movement – at Skylight Books in Los Feliz.
  • Sun 8/14 7pm, the New Short Fiction Series presents “Life Cycle of the Sturgeon” and other stories by Elizabeth Ziemska – at The Writers Junction, 1001 Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica (doors at 6:30, $10 in advance, $15 at the door).
Published in: on August 2, 2011 at 1:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Literary LA July ’11

  • In a relatively light month, too much going on at Los Feliz’s Skylight Books to capture fully but here goes: Wed 7/6 7:30pm, LA Times columnist Meghan Daum moderates a panel of local luminaries (among them Seth Green, Leslie Schwartz and Diana Wagman) on the intersections and differences between fiction and narrative non-fiction; Thurs 7/7 7:30pm, El Monte’s own Toni Margarita Plummer and her debut story collection The Bolero of Andi Rowe; Fri 7/8 7pm, a launch party for the second issue of Afterzine, described by the Skylight folks as “uber-hip” which is usually a bad sign but can you go wrong with the likes of Miranda July, Maud Newton and (gulp) Zooey Deschanel?; Sat 7/9 5pm, a meet ‘n greet for the PEN Emerging Voices Program, featuring a short reading and panel discussion, followed by a cocktail reception (also catch the PEN reading at the Hammer, Wed 7/20); Thurs 7/21 7:30pm, local litmag Slake presents readings from their third issue (you can also catch them at Vroman’s on the 25th); Wed 7/27 7:30, Emma Straub arrives with her new story collection Other People We Married; and finally, Thurs 7/28 7:30pm, a writer I don’t know but several local bloggers think highly of, Dana Spiotta, reading from her Los Angeles-set novel Stone Arabia
  • The New Short Fiction Series delivers a one-two punch this month: Tues 7/5 6:30pm-7:30pm, a special evening of writings on the theme of independence (also at a special location, the Annenberg Community Beach House, 415 PCH in Santa Monica); and Sun 7/10 7pm, the regularly scheduled July show (at their new venue, The Writers Junction, 1001 Colorado Blvd in Santa Monica), ‘The Wild Grass & Other Stories’ by David Malasarn
  • A couple of good events at UCLA’s Hammer Museum, one of the best places in town to catch a reading: Wed 7/13 7pm, readings from Jesse Ball (most recently The Curfew) and Daniel Orozco (whose stories have appeared in both the Pushcart and Best American anthologies); and Wed 7/20 7pm, readings from this year’s PEN Emerging Voices Fellows
  • And finally, you can close out the month with the always spirited proceedings of Vermin on the Mount: Sun 7/31 8pm, a 7th anniversary party featuring Andrew Foster Altschul, James Freed, Charles Yu and others; at Chinatown’s Mountain Bar
Published in: on July 3, 2011 at 5:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Literary LA June ’11

Skylight Books: Sun 6/12 5pm, the always engaging Steve Almond with a handful of his self-published books, including This Won’t Take But a Minute, Honey, which includes some excellent thoughts on the craft of writing; Fri 6/17 7:30pm, Jesus Angel Garcia with Badbadbad, intriguingly described by Kyle Minor as “the disinherited love child of Philip Roth and Flannery O’Connor”; Thurs 6/23 7:30, readings from LA’s newest literary journal The Rattling Wall (if you miss them here, catch them on the 29th at Book Soup)

UCLA’s Hammer Museum: Thurs 6/9 7pm, Vendela Vida (most recently, The Lovers) along with Heidi Julavits (The Effect of Living Backwards)–both are co-founders of the journal The Believer

New Short Fiction Series: Sun 6/12 7pm, a book release event presenting the debut story collection from Erica Bauermeister, Joy for Beginners

Vroman’s Bookstore: Sat 6/11 5pm, Erica Bauermeister and her debut story collection Joy for Beginners (see New Short Fiction Series above); Thurs 6/23 7pm, an edgy pairing of Grace Krilanovich, whose The Orange Eats Creeps rescues Northwestern vampires from Twilight mushiness; and Wyatt Doyle and his story collection Stop Requested (“Bukowski without the nasty streak”)

ALOUD at the Central Library: Thurs 6/16 7pm, Alina Simone and her tragic-comic journey through Indie Rock, with a decidedly punk Eastern European tilt

Tongue & Groove: on Sat 6/18 8pm, a special show at a special location and special time–“Boyle Heights: The Other LA” featuring Luis Rodriguez, Xavi Moreno, David Kippen and others–Grand Performance Stage, 350 S. Grand Ave LA

Word Theatre: Sun 6/19 5:30pm continues their ‘Lit by Lulu’ series with an evening of dramatic readings of short stories featuring performers like Amy Brenneman, and writers like Jane Smiley

Published in: on June 4, 2011 at 12:39 am  Leave a Comment  

Literary LA May ’11

Another packed month:

  • Skylight Books: Thurs 5/5 7:30pm, Geoff Dyer (sometimes fiction writer but mainly essayist–his book on jazz, But Beautiful, is an all-time favorite) with a new essay collection, Otherwise Known as the Human Condition; Thurs 5/12 7:30pm, Patrick deWitt with his novel The Sisters Brothers, a reworking of the Western some are comparing to Charles Portis; Sat 5/14 5pm, new readings from West Coast litmag ZYZZYVA, and a chance to meet new editor Laura Cogan, who takes the helm from founder Howard Junker after 25 years; Thurs 5/19 7:30pm, Bret Easton Ellis reads from Imperial Bedrooms, now out in paperback
  • The New Short Fiction Series–LA’s longest-running spoken-word series–relocates to The Writers Junction in Santa Monica (1001 Colorado Ave) for its annual Emerging Voices Show, always a good time, featuring six fresh new literary voices–$10 in advance, $15 at the door.
  • ALOUD at the Central Library: Thurs 5/12 7pm, Gary Shteyngart talking about Super Sad True Love Story; Tues 5/17 7pm, Francisco Goldman, discussing what sounds like a wrenching novel, Say Her Name, inspired by his wife’s death
  • Some great readings this month at UCLA’S Hammer Museum, one of the best literary venues in town (all events at 7pm): Wed 5/11, release party for the inaugural issue of The Rattling Wall, an exciting new LA literary journal–readers include Neal Pollack, Sam Dunn, Matthew Zapruder and Lou Mathews; Tues 5/24, Norman Rush; Wed 5/25, readings from Salvatore Scibona and Karen Russell, whose new novel Swamplandia! is drawing a lot of attention; Tues 5/31, playwright/screenwriter David Mamet, in conversation with magician and frequent collaborator Ricky Jay
  • Vroman’s: Wed 5/11 7pm, Danzy Senna and her new collection of stories, You Are Free; Fri 5/20 7pm, Geraldine Brooks and Caleb’s Crossing; Sun 5/22 5pm, Emma Donoghue and her harrowing novel Room
  • Book Soup: Fri 5/20 7pm, Julie Orringer and her widely praised new novel The Invisible Bridge (I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve read from her story collection How to Breathe Underwater)
  • Last but not least, Sun 5/22, Word Theatre presents an evening of fiction by Charles Baxter, whose Gryphon: New and Selected Stories is just out; readers include JK Simmons and Baxter himself; doors at 6pm, show at 6:30; at Soho House in West Hollywood, 9200 Sunset Blvd

May is Short Story Month

Who says so? Dan Wickett, and that’s good enough for me.

There are months for just about everything, it seems. Since 1996, April has been National Poetry Month. As the 2009 edition of National Poetry Month wound down, Dan decided to step forward and declare May Short Story Month. Dan is a tireless literary enthusiast, founder of the Emerging Writers Network, and now co-director of Dzanc Books–which under its own name and various imprints does as much as anyone on the current literary scene to bring new short story writers into the light.

In its few years, Short Story Month has gained momentum and is observed by a number of presses and literary sites. Check in with the Short Story Month Facebook Page and see what’s going on. At the Emerging Writers Network, Dan will be posting about three stories a day, many of them live on the ‘net. Fiction Writers Review will observe the month with reviews, interviews and more. Matt Bell–editor of Dzanc’s new online literary journal The Collagist, and author of the recently published How They Were Found–also promises a full slate of short fiction goodness. And don’t forget The Short Review, devoted entirely to reviewing short story collections.

Literary LA April ’11

A packed month so let’s go:

  • Skylight Books: Mon 4/4 7:30pm, Michelle Latiolais with her new story collection Widow; Tues 4/5 7:30pm, much-loved author, teacher and Santa Monica Review founder Jim Krusoe and his new novel Toward You, published by Tin House; Fri 4/15 7:30pm, Blake Butler and Justin Taylor with their novels There Is No Year and The Gospel of Anarchy; Sat 4/16 5pm, a release party for David Foster Wallace’s posthumous novel The Pale King
  • Book Soup: Mon 4/11 7pm, Alexi Zenter and his novel Touch
  • Vroman’s: Fri 4/8 7pm, not fiction, but Diane Ackerman is someone every writer should read–her new book, One Hundred Names for Love, is about her husband’s aphasia following a severe stroke (event is at All Saint’s Church, 132 N. Euclid Ave in Pasadena); Tues 4/12 7pm, Thaisa Frank and her historical novel Heidegger’s Glasses
  • New Short Fiction Series: Sun 4/10 7pm, live readings of stories by Stacey Levine (a very interesting author–more about this later)
  • Word Theatre: Thurs 4/14 7:30, in association with, their annual “The Women” showcase of up-and-coming women writers
  • UCLA’s Hammer Museum: Wed 4/27 7pm, David Bezmozgis (Natasha and Other Stories) and Deb Olin Unferth (Vacation)
  • Central Library’s ALOUD Series: Tues 4/26 7pm, a conversation with Jamaica Kincaid
  • Tongue & Groove: Sun 4/17 6pm, a reading from this year’s PEN Emerging Voices Fellows (Hotel Cafe, 1623 1/2 N. Cahuenga)
  • Vermin on the Mount: Sun 4/30 7pm, the West Coast launch of Re-Telling, an anthology of literary borrowings, with Heidi Durrow, Stephen Elliot, Terese Svoboda and Jim Ruland (at Chinatown’s Mountain Bar)
  • And finally, Sat 4/30 & Sun 5/1, the annual LA Times Festival of Books, this year moving shop from the UCLA campus to USC
Published in: on April 2, 2011 at 8:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Literary LA March ’11

  • At Skylight Books in Los Feliz: Thurs 3/3 7:30pm, local author Nina Revoyr with her new novel Wingshooters (getting good reviews, with comparisons to To Kill a Mockingbird); Sat 3/5 5pm, readings from the latest anthology from WriteGirl, which does great work helping teen girls develop their writing voice; Thurs 3/17 7:30pm, Andrew Foster Altshul and his novel about a reality show gone horribly wrong, Deus Ex Machina
  • The March show of The New Short Fiction Series (LA’s longest-running spoken-word series) features the fiction of Ann Gelder; Sun 3/13 7pm, Barnsdall Art Museum, 4800 Hollywood Blvd
  • Readings at UCLA’s Hammer Museum this month include Jayne Anne Phillips, Thurs 3/10 7pm
  • At Book Soup in West Hollywood: Mon 3/14 7pm, it’s Andre Dubus III with his new novel, Townie
  • Vroman’s in Pasadena has Walter Mosley with his latest, When the Thrill is Gone, Wed 3/9 7pm; and on Wed 3/30 7pm, the inimitable Sarah Vowell with her take on all things Hawaiian, Unfamiliar Fishes
  • And finally at Echo Park’s Stories Bookstore/Cafe: Fri 3/4 8pm, “Two-Headed Beast,” a night devoted to the art of storytelling; and Thurs 3/17 7:30pm, the monthly GLBT reading series “Homo-Centric” (the Stories Facebook page is usually the best way to keep tabs on the happenings there)
Published in: on March 1, 2011 at 8:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Literary LA February ’11

  • Skylight Books: Sun 2/13 5pm, an all-star line-up for Black Clock 13, including Aimee Bender, Janet Fitch and Jonathan Lethem; Thurs 2/24 7:30pm, Jonathan Evison and his new novel West of Here; Sat 2/26 5pm, readings from LA’s newest litmag Slake, including Ben Ehrenreich and Yxta Maya Murray
  • New Short Fiction Series: Sun 2/13 7pm, the fiction of O. Henry Award-Nominee Townshend Walker
  • Vroman’s Bookstore: Sun 2/13 6:30pm, readings from Slake; Sat 2/19 5pm, peerless songwriters Lieber & Stoller with Hound Dog
  • ALOUD at the Central Library: Wed 2/16 7pm, “The Short Story and the Art of Not Knowing,” with Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum and Yiyun Li
  • Word Theatre presents a special Valentine’s Day reading, Mon 2/14, “Hearts Aflame,” an evening of love and break-up letters from the 11th to the 21st century
Published in: on February 5, 2011 at 10:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Literary LA January ’11

Literary happenings to start off the new year:

  • At West Hollywood’s Book Soup:  Sun 1/9 3pm, Spike Lee talks about Do The Right Thing, his new behind-the-scenes look at his classic film of the same name; Mon 1/10 7pm, David Levithan with his new novel The Lover’s Dictionary.
  • Sun 1/9 7pm, the New Short Fiction Series kicks off its 15th season with dramatic readings of ‘Rubiaux Rising & Other Stories’ by Steve De Jarnatt.  The title piece, Steve’s first published story (though he has had a successful career in film and television), was selected by Alice Sebold for the 2009 Best American Short Stories anthology.  Show up early for the 6:30 wine bar courtesy of Silver Lake Wine.  (Barnsdall Art Museum, 4800 Hollywood Blvd; tix $10 in advance, $15 at the door.)
  • also Sun 1/9 (8pm), the venerable Chinatown reading series Vermin on the Mount starts the year off with Danielle Dutton, Antonia Crane, Patrick O’Neil, Jeanne Darst, and Chiwan Choi.  (The Mountain Bar, 473 Gin Ling Way.)
  • Fri 1/14 7:30pm, Word Theatre has actors Bruce Vilanch, Ian Hart and Samantha Mathis reading stories by Hanif Kureishi, Simon Van Booy, and Amy Bloom. (M Bar, 1253 Vine Place, corner of Fountain & Vine.  Doors at 6pm, $10 food minimum.)
  • The Central Library’s ALOUD Series (in the Mark Taper Auditorium) presents:  Tues 1/18 7pm, Tom Rachman (The Imperfectionists) in conversation with Carolyn Kellogg; and Tues 1/25 7pm, Maxine Hong Kingston, in conversation with Andrew Lam.
  • At UCLA’s Hammer MuseumTues 1/25 7pm, poet Jennifer Knox, and fiction writer and memoirist Sarah Manguso (whose terrific collection of very short fiction, Hard to Admit and Harder to Escape, is the high point of a McSweeney’s boxed set of very short stories I review here); and, if you miss her at the Central Library, Wed 1/26 7pm, Maxine Hong Kingston.
  • Finally, Mon 1/31 7:30, Writers Bloc hosts an evening with Alice Hoffman, in conversation with KUSC’s Gail Eichenthal. (The Writer’s Guild Theater, 135 South Doheny Drive, Beverly Hills.  $20, reservations recommended.)
Published in: on January 3, 2011 at 7:07 pm  Leave a Comment