Literary LA December ’10

A light schedule in a month dominated by the holidays:

  • UCLA’s Hammer Museum:  Wed 12/8 7pm, novelist and short story writer Thaisa Frank (her collection A Brief History of Camouflage has been on my list for a while) reads from her new novel Heidegger’s Glasses.
  • Book Soup:  Tues 12/14 7pm, if you can’t catch her at the Hammer, Thaisa Frank and Heidegger’s Glasses; Wed 12/15 7pm, LA Times Book Critic David Ulin (formerly the Book Editor with the paper, now with a new role) with The Lost Art of Reading.

Some thoughts on holidays shopping…

One of the reasons it’s a slow month is so bookstore owners can concentrate on the six week stretch that provides a huge chunk of their yearly income.  As a former owner of an independent bookstore, and now as a writer who knows the role such stores play in introducing emerging voices to the reading public, I encourage you to give them your holiday book-buying business.  No, they don’t stock everything that larger or online stores do–but they can get most things within a reasonable amount of time.  You just have to make a little effort and plan ahead.

Here in Los Angeles, Skylight Books at 1818 N. Vermont in Los Feliz is hard to beat for service, and for commitment to independent publishing.  Check out their very cool online holiday gift catalogue on the website–one of those nifty turn-the-page-on-the-screen deals.  And relative newcomer Stories Books & Cafe at 1716 Sunset Blvd in Echo Park has a special place in my heart.  They’ve got a mix of new and used stuff–plus, in conjunction with ABE, a selection of off-the-floor offerings (some cool art books especially).  Their Facebook page is probably the best way to stay in touch with them.  So, stop in, get something at the cafe and hang out.   And while you’re in the neighborhood, check out the Echo Park Time Travel Mart next door, which sells oddities in support of the Dave Eggers-sponsored youth tutoring center 826la; the 826la website also sells some cool stuff for the same great cause.

Finally, be sure to check out Indie Bound, the national marketing effort of America’s independent booksellers.  Find indie stores in your area, and check out bookseller recommendations.  Most participating stores offer gift certificates that friends & family can redeem at their local stores–a great gift option.

Published in: on December 1, 2010 at 8:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Literary LA November ’10

(I apologize for missing October and being an absentee blog-host of late.  Distracted with a cross-town move.  Back in the saddle.)


  • UCLA’s Hammer Museum:  Tues 11/2, 7pm, Stuart Dybeck; and Tues 11/16, 7pm, Jonathan Gold in conversation with Bret Easton Ellis
  • Tongue & Groove: rescheduled from the initial Holloween date to Sun 11/7 6pm, a terrific line-up including Janet Fitch and Rob Roberge (at the Hotel Cafe, 1623 1/2 N Cahuenga)
  • The Central Library’s ALOUD Series:  Tues 11/2 7pm, Nicole Krauss; Thurs 11/4 7pm, Thomas McGuane; Tues 11/9, 7pm, Reza Aslan hosts “Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Middle East,” featuring a variety of readings, as well as traditional Persian music; Tues, 11/30, 8pm, Aslan returns to host a conversation with Salman Rushdie (event at the Aratani/Japan American Theatre)
  • Vermin on the Mount presents an evening of irreverent Young Adult readings, guest hosted by Cecil Castelluci, Sun 11/7 8pm
  • The New Short Fiction Series closes out 2010 with a book release event, and performances from Mary Rechner’s new story collection, Nine Simple Patterns for Complicated Women, Sun 11/14, 7pm
  • Vroman’s hosts Mona Simpson with her new novel, My Hollywood, Sat 11/6 7pm
  • and finally, as always, a full month at Skylight Books in Los Feliz:  Mon 11/8 7:30, Kim Kupperman and her new collection of essays I Just Lately Started Buying Wings (event co-sponsored by PEN USA); Fri 11/12 7:30pm, Anne Germanacos and her story collection In the Time of the Girls; and Sat 11/20 5pm, Edan Lepucki (a former Skylight staffer) with her novella If You’re Not Yet Like Me
Published in: on November 1, 2010 at 3:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

Literary LA September ’10

  • At Skylight Books in Los Feliz:  Thurs 9/2 7:30, Mona Simpson and My Hollywood; Sun 9/12 5pm, readings from Strange Cargo, an anthology of work by writers in the PEN Emerging Voices Program–hosted by Janet Fitch; Sun 9/19 5pm, readings from Black Clock 12, featuring Tod Goldberg and others; Fri 9/24 7:30, James Ellroy with his latest, The Hilliker Curse:  My Pursuit of Women; Thurs 9/30 7:30, Tao Lin and Richard Yates
  • Sun 9/12 7pm, the New Short Fiction Series presents ‘The Devil’s Moor and other stories’ by Stefan Kiesbye
  • At West Hollywood’s Book Soup:  Tues 9/8 7pm, readings from LA’s newest litmag, Slake; Fri 9/10 7pm, Please Take Me Off the Guest List, photos and more from Yeah Yeah Yeah’s guitarist Nick Zinner; Sun 9/12 7pm, the latest from William Gibson, Zero History
  • Thurs 9/16 8pm, the Central Library’s ALOUD Series presents Jonathan Franzen (recently featured on the cover of Time for his highly-touted new novel Freedom) in conversation with Meghan Daum (event at the Aratini/Japan America Theatre, 244 South San Pedro Street)
Published in: on September 1, 2010 at 11:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

New Short Fiction Series: Suzanne Rivecca

Stories from Suzanne Rivecca’s stunning debut collection Death Is Not An Option will be performed at this Sunday’s New Short Fiction Series show–7pm (doors at 6:30) at the LA Municipal Art Gallery in Barnsdall Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd; tickets $10 in advance, $15 at the door.  The event will also be a book launch, and is the only scheduled local appearance by the author.

This is one of the most striking story collections to appear in a while, and is being lauded by the likes of Lorrie Moore and Jim Shepard and Charles Baxter.  Local writer and blogger Callie Miller nails it in this brief review:  the book is kick-ass, and raises the bar for anyone serious about literature as a reader and/or writer.

And here is my own interview with the author, which confirms her as a major new talent and fictive mind to be reckoned with. (Also, my subsequent review of Death Is Not an Option at the terrific website The Short Review.)

Published in: on July 6, 2010 at 4:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Literary LA July ’10

  • Sun 7/11 7pm, the New Short Fiction Series presents stories from Suzanne Rivecca’s astounding debut collection, Death Is Not An Option (Norton).  Lorrie Moore, Charles Baxter and Jim Shepard all rave about this exciting new voice.  Performance and book release, doors at 6:30; $10 in advance, $15 at the door.  LA Art Gallery, Barnsdall Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd.
  • Skylight Books in Los Feliz brings back “Hot Summer Nights”:  starting Sat 7/17 (and running through Aug 28) the store will be open till midnight on Saturday–stop by for snacks, music, and other surprises; also:  Fri 7/23 7:30, David Mitchell with his new novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet; and Thurs 7/29 7:30, Vendela Vida with her latest, The Lovers.
  • Wed 7/21 7pm, at UCLA’s Hammer Museum, a public reading from the 2010 PEN Emerging Voices–a great chance to catch some exciting new writers, and to check out one of the city’s finest literary venues.
  • Tues 7/13 7pm, the Central Library’s ALOUD Series presents a terrific pairing:  in conversation, Aimee Bender (just out with her new novel The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake) and Glen David Gold (best known fro Carter Beats The Devil), talking about “fiction, theatre, magic spells, cats, MFAs, and other stuff.”
Published in: on July 5, 2010 at 6:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

Literary LA June ’10

This month’s calendar is unapologetically biased toward a handful of writers who have been important to me:  at Skylight Books, Aimee Bender & Steve Almond (I studied with both at Tin House–exquisite writers and generous teachers both of them); and at my other teaching touchstone, the UCLA Extension Writer’s Program,  Lou Mathews and a number of others:

  • Skylight Books:  Tues 6/1 7:30pm, Aimee Bender with her new novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake; Mon 6/7 7:30pm, Steve Almond with his latest, a collection of essays entitled Rock ‘n’ Roll Will Save Your Life (and it will); he’ll also have his self-published collection of 30 mini-stories and 30 short writing-essays, This Won’t Take But A Minute, Honey); and Fri 6/23 7:30pm, the always challenging David Mitchell with his new novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
  • Book Soup: if you miss Aimee Bender at Skylight, catch her here, Sun 6/9 7pm
  • UCLA Extension Writers’ Program Publication Party:  Wed 7/9 7pm at the Skirball Cultural Centershowcasing recent publications from instructors of one of the nation’s top writing programs
  • Word Theatre: at the M Bar on Sun 7/6 7pm, a terrific trio of actors (Carla Cugino, Gary Cole, Adrian Pasdar) perform stories by James Salter, T.C. Boyle, and Tod Goldberg
  • The New Short Fiction Series:  Sun 7/13 7:30, presents their annual “Emerging Voices Show,” a great chance to be introduced to a number of up-and-coming writers (with a swinging after-party–you gotta show up to find out…)
  • Central Library ALOUD:  Wed 7/2 7pm, Richard Russo, in conversation with Carolyn Kellogg, about his new novel, That Old Cape Magic
  • Book Party: Check out this every-other-month, very cool gathering at the Mandrake Bar (2692 South La Cienega); this month, Sun 7/6 7pm, Michelle Huneven with her new novel Blame; also, Patrick O’Neil
  • Vermin on the Mount: another cool bar reading series, at the Mountain Bar in Chinatown; this month, Sun 7/13 8pm, Marisa Silver, Patrick Somerville, Maria Semple & James Greer
  • Finally, at UCLA’s Hammer Museum, Thurs 6/17, Colson Whitehead
Published in: on June 1, 2010 at 10:31 am  Leave a Comment  

Literary LA May ’10

Really late this month with this. Here we go:

  • Skylight Books: Fri 5/7 7:30, the great Greil Marcus and When That Rough God Goes Riding; Fri 5/14 7:30, acclaimed graphic-novel artist Daniel Clowes with Wilson.
  • Book Soup: Tues 5/11 7pm, Brady Udall and his new novel, The Lonely Polygamist; Sat 5/29 5pm, Glen David Gold and Sunnyside.
  • Vroman’s: Thurs 5/13 7pm, Jane Smiley and Private Life; Mon 5/24 7pm, Julie Orringer with Invisible Bridge.
  • The New Short Fiction Series: a Mother’s Day show Sun 5/9 7:30pm, Transfer of Qualities & Other Stories by MacArthur Grant recipient Martha Ronk.
  • ALOUD presents An Evening with Isabel Allende, Mon 5/10 8pm (at the Aratani/Japan America Theatre, 244 S. San Pedro Street)

June preview: Because I’ve been late the last two months… An early heads-up for two can’t-miss readings at Skylight Books–Aimee Bender (Tues June 1st) with her new novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake; and Steve Almond (Mon June 7th) with Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life.

Published in: on May 7, 2010 at 12:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Still More April Events…

A busy literary month gets busier:

  • Echo Park’s Stories Bookstore/Cafe has a slew of events to close the month: Thurs 4/22 7:30, Chris Corkum and XOXO Hayden; Mon 4/26 7:30, Stories and 826la co-host a release party for McSweeney’s #34; Wed 4/28 7:30, Julie Klausner and I Don’t Care About Your Band (sort of a girl’s High Fidelity); and Thurs 4/29 7:30, Benjamin Font and Reading & Drinking in Slow Motion–check website or their Facebook events page for more details
  • Get an early start on an intensely literary final weekend in April by attending a celebration of the Santa Monica Review at Beyond Baroque, Fri 4/23 7:30, featuring readings by SMR founder Jim Krusoe, along with Diane Lefer and Steve De Jarnatt (who has a story in the current Best American Short Stories anthology)
Published in: on April 17, 2010 at 9:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Also in April…

A few additions to the calendar:

  • Mon 4/12 7:30, Tablacentric and Echo Park’s Machine Project present readings from Indivisible, a collection of poetry by South-Asian American writers, including my friend (watch out for his forthcoming novel) Ro Gunetilleke. Reading will also include music by FIELD. 1200-D North Alvarado Street.
  • Wed 4/14 8:30, Opium Magazine hosts its second LA “Literary Death Match” at Chinatown’s Mountain Bar (475 Gin Ling Way). Judges include Mary Lynn Rajskub (Chloe from 24) and contestant writers include my friend J. Ryan Stradal.
  • If on the final weekend of the month the crowds and scale of the LA Times BookFest scare you away (I may well count myself in that number), another way to get a literary fix is to check out the current PEN Emerging Voices Fellows as they give a public reading at the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood (1623 1/2 North Cahuenga), Sun 4/25 6pm (and part of the Tongue & Groove reading series).
Published in: on April 6, 2010 at 7:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Literary LA April ’10

A day late with this listing. And a bad month for posts. We’ll try harder this month. Here are some literary highlights for April:

  • At Skylight Books: Tues 4/6 7:30, a Lit Thing Book Bash, in which local writers like Antoine Wilson and Carolyn Kellogg rave (or rant) about books they love (or hate)–sounds fun; Sat 4/10 5pm, Jerry Stahl with his new book, Pain Killers; and Wed 4/14 7:30, Marisa Silver and a new story collection, Alone With You.
  • At Book Soup: Wed 4/14 7pm, the scarily prolific William Vollmann with his examination of Japanese Noh Theater, Kissing the Mask; then on Fri 4/23 8pm, in an event at UCLA’s Royce Hall and co-sponsored by Book Soup, Harvey Pekar (American Splendor) and Alison Bechdel (Fun Home) explore the graphic novel as confessional medium–discounted tickets available for a limited time through the Book Soup website (go to the Events page), or through UCLA Live.
  • LA author Janet Fitch (White Oleander, Paint It Black) is doing some local readings this month: Thurs 4/8 noon, she’ll be part of an LA Noir reading at Glendale College; then two readings Sat 4/10–at 2pm at the new Silverlake Library (2411 Glendale Blvd), and that evening, 5pm-10pm, as one of many talents featured at a spoken word & music line-up at The Echo (1822 W. Sunset).
  • At their new home in Barnsdall Park, on Sun 4/11 7:30pm the New Short Fiction Series presents Cabaret Nation & Other Stories by Robert Morgan Fisher.
  • That same night, at Hollywood’s M Bar, Word Theatre presents some very short stories by John Edgar Wideman (doors at 6, show at 7).
  • Mon 4/12 8pm, the Central Library’s ALOUD Series features Ian McEwan.
  • Also that night, at 7:30pm, at Temple Emanuel (300 North Clark Drive in Beverly Hills), Writers Bloc offers a terrific pairing: the great cartoonist & playwright Jules Feiffer in conversation with comic/writer/director Carl Reiner.
  • And, of course, Sat/Sun the 24th/255th, the mammoth LA Times Festival of Books (tickets available Sunday the 18th).