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 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  

Lou Mathews in ‘Failbetter’

Last year Failbetter–one of the best online literary journals out there, and whose name derives from the great Samuel Beckett quote–ran a novella contest that was won by Lou Mathews, a friend/teacher/mentor of mine. The winning entry, The Irish Sextet, has been published in installments over the last few months. Now the complete work is available online. One of the stories (I won’t prejudice you by saying which) has already inspired me to overhaul the ending to one of my own stories. It’s a lesson in building toward something.

Published in: on March 19, 2011 at 4:16 pm  Comments (1)  

Literary LA August ’10

A late filing on a light literary month:

  • Sun, 8/8 7pm: the New Short Fiction Series, LA’s longest-running ‘live literary magazine,’ presents readings of the stories of Andrea Seigel, author of the best-selling novels Like the Red Panda and To Feel Stuff
  • Skylight Books in Los Feliz continues all month with ‘Hot Summer Nights’ every Saturday, staying open till midnight and adding extra features like this week’s ‘7 inch Saturday’ (uh, as in vinyl:  they’ll be spinning customers’ favorite EPs all night); Sat, 8/14 8pm, it’s a Bukowski birthday celebration
  • At West Hollywood’s Book SoupSun 8/8 6pm, a staged reading of Francesca Lia Block’s ground-breaking debut Weetzie Bat; Tues 8/10 7:30, Gary Shteyngart with his latest, Super Sad True Love Story (event is at the Skirball); and Mon 8/16 7pm, famed filmmaker David Lynch with a pair of recent art books, Dark Splendor and Lithos
  • At Vroman’s in Pasadena: Sun, 8/8 6pm, Gary Shteyngart and Super Sad True Love Story; Fri 8/13 7pm, a reading featuring a new literary journal on the LA scene, Slake (my bad for not being in time to list their earlier event at Echo Park’s terrific Stories Bookstore/Cafe), which already figures writers such as Mark Danielewski, Jonathan Gold and Jerry Stahl among its contributors
  • Fri 8/27 8pm (at Hollywood’s M Bar, door & dinner at 6:30pm), Word Theatre presents ‘The Women,’ its third annual show devoted to the fiction of LA’s best female writers
  • Last, but certainly not least, Sat 8/28 6pm, PEN USA and Stories Books, along with LitQuake and Good Reads, present the second installment of the LA LitCrawl, a home-grown literary version of the pub-crawl, starting at The Echo and proceeding to a variety of bars, and featuring a ton of exciting writers
Published in: on August 6, 2010 at 9:28 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).

Literary LA February ’10

  • Beginning Thursday the 4th and running through the weekend, Smart Gals celebrates ten years of smart cultural events with a “Reading Preserve” exhibit at the Barnsdall Municipal Art Gallery–culminating in a Winter Picnic Performance Sun 2/7 2pm.
  • For another Superbowl Sunday alternative, check out my friend Doug Knott’s one-man show “Oil Fire” (burn, baby burn) at Highways (an alternative performance in Santa Monica, at the 18th Street Arts Center, 1651 18th Street) Sun 2/7 7pm; Doug shares the billing with Alexa Hunter.
  • At Skylight Books in Los Feliz: Thurs 2/4 7:30pm, Joshua Ferris with The Unnamed; and Tues 2/16 7:30pm, local author Heidi Durrow, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky.
  • Book Soup in West Hollywood has: Wed 2/3 7pm, long-time New Yorker cartoonist Bruce Eric Kaplan with his new collection, I Love You, I Hate You, I’m Hungry; and Thurs 2/4 7pm, if you hadn’t heard of Up in the Air until it was made into a movie, here’s your chance to check out the original with Walter Kirn.
  • The New Short Fiction Series offers up some Valentine’s flavor on Sun 2/14 7pm with “The Name of Longing” and other stories by Shubha Venugopal; at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Barnsdall Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd.
  • Diesel Books in Brentwood hosts a book release party for Dani Shapiro’s new book Devotion, Sat 2/20 6 pm.
  • Word Theatre presents, Sun 2/21 3pm, a program of stories by T.C. Boyle (from his new collection Wild Child), including one read by the man himself.
Published in: on February 1, 2010 at 11:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Write-a-Thon benefiting the charitable work of Dzanc Books (who I talk about in a previous post) begins tomorrow. Click HERE to sponsor me via PayPal.

Published in: on December 16, 2009 at 8:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Random Notes (2)

  • I attended a good reading the other night at Skylight Books, featuring selections from Dzanc’s new Best of the Web 2009 anthology. There are selections from some of the more established online journals like failbetter and Juked, print journals like AGNI with online companions–and still others like Toasted Cheese and Hot Metal Bridge that are new to me. Dzanc is fast becoming a force in independent publishing–under their own imprint, as well Other Voices, Black Lawrence, Monkeybicycle, and their new online mag The Collagist.
  • One of the featured readers was Lou Mathews, whose nominated story “Huevos” was published last year in failbetter. It’s also a Halloween story, which makes it timely–though not for the faint of heart, and not one to read to the kids.
  • Great review (and well-deserved) in the LA Times the other day of Dylan Landis’ new collection Normal People Don’t Live Like This.

Finally, a few late additions to my October Literary LA Calendar:

  • At Stories Bookstore/Cafe in Echo Park: Sat Oct 24 7-10, spooky stories, spooky sounds, pumpkin-carving, fortune-telling & more; Tues Oct 27 3pm, indie music faves Tegan & Sara will meet fan and sign merchandise
  • Sun Oct 25 6pm, Tongue & Groove at the Hotel Cafe presents “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” with Rachel Resnick and Seth Greenland among others
  • Finally, Sun Oct 25 3pm, Tod Goldberg has the official release party for his new collection, Other Resort Cities at Borders in Westwood
Published in: on October 23, 2009 at 10:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Tonight: Wells Tower at Hammer

I’m putting together my July literary listings, but wanted to get this out right away: Wells Tower, author of the collection Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned (which has created more talk than any collection in a while) is at the Hammer tonight, July 1, at 7pm.

Published in: on July 1, 2009 at 11:45 am  Leave a Comment