- 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)
- 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
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 Museum: Tues 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.)
As I just posted on Facebook, the next best thing to getting a story in The New Yorker (we can all dream, can’t we?) is to have a friend get one in. “Costello,” a story in the current Dec. 6 issue, is by Jim Gavin, who was in an LA writers workshop with me for a short time. Normally I might feel a touch of envy. But it’s hard to be anything other than happy for a writer so good and so unassuming.
The story itself is both very sad and very funny. And it presents a working-class slice of Southern California you don’t often see in fiction. Pick it up at the newsstand if you don’t subscribe. And check out an online interview with Jim at The New Yorker website.
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.
(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
- 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)
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 Soup: Sun 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
In the menu to the right, under My Stuff, you will see a couple of additions–two stories originally published in online journals that appear to have gone under: ‘Secret World,’ an entry from Claudia, my novel-in-stories (in progress); and a very short piece, ‘Run A Yellow Bleeding Red.’
And, in the summer issue of The Short Review, a great online site devoted exclusively to short story collections, is my rave review of Suzanne Rivecca’s Death Is Not An Option.
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.)