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In books: Huston, Mitchell, Bialosky and money keeps walking

April 14, 2009 |  8:21 am

Lovechild_huston Allegra Huston, the daughter of Ricki Soma, grew up a Huston -- as in director John and actress Angelica. When Ricki died in a car wreck, 4-year-old Allegra went to live with the Huston clan. At 12, she learned that her biological father was someone else entirely; years later, she "decided to write this magazine piece about my two fathers and how lucky I felt to have them both." That piece was the beginnings of "Love Child," the story of an unusual childhood and fragmentary history. She tells the L.A. Times:

I think you have to stand for something, and what I wanted to stand for was the possibility of making a fractured whole, bringing happiness out of sadness and the blessings and the gifts in loss and tragedy -- to sort of hold up the candle for what can be if you keep your heart open and rise above resentment and tragedies and pull the pieces together.

Other pieces are coming together in the L.A. Times serial novel, "Money Walks." Written collaboratively by L.A.-based fiction writers, all of whom will appear at the L.A. Times Festival of Books, "Money Walks" follows the mystery of disappearing money and the intersecting lives of a reverend, some petty crooks and Bunny, a rich lady with an oxygen tank (so far). Today's chapter is written by Aimee Bender; in it, Bunny does  a lot of clapping.

But she uses both hands -- which would leave no puzzle for translator and zen scholar Stephen Mitchell. He talks to Susan Salter Reynolds on the release of "The Second Book of the Tao." The book, Salter Reynolds writes:

Consists of adaptations from the work of two ancient Chinese scholars: Chuang-tzu, a Laotzu disciple, and Tzu-ssu, Confucius' grandson. Mitchell chose 64 chapters, each including a text and commentary. In his commentaries, Mitchell sets out to emulate the irreverent tone of Chuang-tzu: "If Lao-tzu is a smile," he writes, "Chuang-tzu is a belly-laugh. He's the clown of the Absolute, the apotheosis of incredulity, Coyote among the bodhisattvas."

Asked to elaborate, he says: "I have no pretensions to scholarship. I just love to play with the Taoist masters. For them, nothing is sacred. The best tribute is contradiction."

In Jill Bialosky's powerful new collection of poems, "Intruder," reviewer Bernadette Murphy sees continuity: "She knits throughout this keenly live collection a visceral thread that ties the poet inextricably to her reader." In the opening poem, "Demon Lover," lovers watch snow falling.

It won't end, she said.
Will you stay with me?
I won't leave, she said.
I must go then, said the lover.

There's more online in L.A. Times books.

-- Carolyn Kellogg