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Books, authors and all things bookish

Category: April 2009

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Faces from the fest

David ShannonL.A. Times Book FestivalMegan McDonaldPeter Yarrow

Peter Yarrow, of Peter, Paul and Mary fame, stops off in the media room to give a hug Saturday at the L.A. Times Festival of Books before performing on the Etc. Stage later in the day.



Below: Children's book author David Shannon ("Too Many Toys") takes his cue from the audience at the Children's Stage to come up with an impromptu illustration.


Kids watch the illustration take shape.


Coloring in the toenails....


Megan McDonald, author of the "Judy Moody" and "Stink" series, was signing books. But it's hard to have your photo taken with a hard-working author.


Hey, where did that TV with rabbit ears come from? Dave Shannon finishes his masterpiece.


Photos: Mary Forgione

On leash, off leash and unleashed

L.A. Times Book Festival

Dogs turned bookworms? These are the canines -- with one exception -- at the L.A. Times Festival of Books on Saturday.







Mindy and Lindy




We followed one leash and found little Lucia.


Photos by Kelsey Ramos

Katie Lee Joel whips up deviled eggs and Hoppin' John Salad

cookingKatie Lee JoelL.A. Times Book Festival


Katie Lee Joel grew up in Milton, W.V., and learned to cook in her grandmother’s kitchen. She’s 27, married to singer and songwriter Billy Joel and living in New York City. She was the Season 1 host of Bravo’s “Top Chef” and is the culinary correspondent for CBS’ “The Early Show” (she’ll be on Thursday).

She appeared Saturday at the L.A. Times Festival of Books to share her culinary secrets and love of food. Joel’s cookbook, “The Comfort Table,” includes a forward by friend and fellow foodie Paula Deen.

Her newest title, “The Comfort Table: Everyday Occasions,” will be released in October, just in time for the holiday gift-giving or cooking. And she even thought to include an iPod playlist for each menu.


The Southern girl didn’t disappoint  her audience during her time at the cooking stage (which has mirrors above so audience members can better see the food prep) and whipped up her first dish: deviled eggs. 

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Unknown L.A.? Tell me something I don't know

architectureD.J. WaldieL.A. Festival of BookssmogUnknown Los Angeles


That’s exactly the attitude I took into the "Unknown L.A." panel on Saturday at the L.A. Times Festival of Books. I’ve lived here for a while in many different neighborhoods, so what extra little bit about this city could I garner from this panel of authors?

Moderator William Deverell, director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, said, “The truth is we know a lot about Los Angeles. But there’s a lot more to be learned about this place. There’s a long tradition of trying to figure out Los Angeles.”

In this tradition, the panelists talked about banking pioneers, smog and architecture. Here are some of their musings about the City of Angels and beyond.

What is a home in California?

D.J. Waldie, author of "Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir," commented on "California Romantica," an architecture book about the home stylings of California in the 1910s and 1920s.

Waldie pointed out that after World War I, Angelenos were struggling with the question: How do you make a home in Los Angeles?

“They wanted to make a house fit for a California imagination,” he said.

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Inside the wit and work of Clive Barker

Clive BarkerL.A. Times Book Festivalpaintingwriting


Those who know Clive Barker primarily for his horror fiction might fear peering into the creative mind of this British author, director and visual artist,.

However, the Saturday afternoon chat with the closely shorn Barker at the L.A. Times Festival of Books, guided by LAT’s Gina McIntyre, was a lot like his popular and growing series of books “Abarat,” -- an inspired but ultimately unscripted collection of strokes of color and texture that, together, inform his storytelling.

Before he got to the Festival of Books for the panel discussion, he told the group, he had managed to eke out 15 handwritten pages as he finished up his fifth and final draft of the third in the "Abarat" series. Apparently, this particular book has been rather taxing -- the most difficult thing he’s ever written, he says.  “God knows what Book 5 will be like," he said. "I may go mad.”

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Magic from the farmers markets

cookbookscookingfarmers markets


There's no excuse to pass on the to-die-for fresh produce and meats at farmers markets simply because you don’t know what to do with them.

At the Saturday cooking stage demonstration “A Celebration of Farmers’ Market Cooking” at the L.A. Times Book Festival, authors JoAnn Cianciulli (above, left) and Amelia Saltsman displayed the ease and variety of cooking dishes with market produce.

Saltsman demonstrated the simplicity of farmers market cooking with a recipe for green garlic and potato soup from her book, “The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook” (2007). One of the many benefits of shopping at farmers markets, Saltsman said, is access to optimally fresh seasonal produce.

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Diahann Carroll on race, Norma Desmond and aging

Diahann CarrollL.A. Times Festival of Books


When Diahann Carroll walked in, there was no doubt that she’s never lost that New York girl inside -– a long-cultivated combination of class and sass. The theme throughout this informal chat Saturday at the L.A. Times Festival of Books was perseverance and, as always, never letting anyone get the best of her.

That was never clearer than in the middle of her discussion guided by co-author Bob Morris of the memoir "The Legs Are the Last to Go." He was shifting the conversation toward the topic of race when she stopped mid-sentence to turn her attention to me, as I sat trying to capture the talk for Jacket Copy with my small video camera. “Do you ever put that thing down?” she asked, making sure the taping was for a legitimate news outlet.

She took a brief moment to riff a bit on what many artists have lamented in this democratically digital age – maintaining control of their creative work.

“This is my livelihood.… I’ve seen my entire show on that thing [YouTube]. And I resent it -- I do. Sometimes a show can cost me a quarter of a million dollars to put together, and I see it. Anybody can tape it. They can take the material,” she said. “That’s not fair.”

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California's disconnected and ever-changing traditions

CaliforniaJames FlanniganSouthwest


Listening to panelists of "City Life: The Manufactured West" at the L.A. Times Book Festival, we residents of the American Southwest are all New-Age pioneers on the crest of yet another makeover.

The noontime Saturday panel discussed California’s decentralized politics, the very central issues of immigration and globalization, the curious characteristics of the people who live here (resilient, conscionable and, more often than not, displaced), and the circumstances that propel and restrict our progress.

One issue is geography. Panelist Christina Binkley, author of “Winner Takes All: Steve Wynn, Kirk Kerkorian, Gary Loveman, and the Race to Own Las Vegas” and Wall Street Journal columnist, pointed out that California is really three states (moderator Patt Morrison quipped that their names were Logland, Fogland, and Smogland), all with disparate interests, making it difficult to develop policies that serve the entire population.

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Publishing 3.0: what comes next, and is the writer in trouble?

LA Times Festival of BooksPatrick BrownPublishing 3.0Richard Nash

What comes next for publishing? That was the question that the panelists at Publishing 3.0 tried to answer, delivering a jumble of good ideas, hopeful possibilities and acknowledgment that change is coming.

That change was perhaps the most shocking when Patrick Brown of Vroman's Bookstore said that in 10 years, most books will be electronic; hardcovers will exist as special editions geared for collectors and aficionados (much like vinyl has emerged as a preferred choice for music collectors). Coming late in the hour, in answer to an audience question, Brown's prediction generated a murmur of discomfort from the audience. It's not necessarily going to happen, he amended, but bookstores have to imagine that it might.

Brown had emphasized that the value of independent bookstores like Vroman's are the special communities they nurture. "It's no secret that you'd be able to find that book somewhere else, cheaper," he said, but that people choose to come to Vroman's for a host of reasons other than the book itself. Would Amazon book a bus and an author and drive readers to the Festival of Books? Maybe, but it hasn't yet.

Richard Nash, former publisher of Soft Skull, concurred: the future of publishing lies in community and matchmaking, in connecting readers to the right books.

Not, said Sara Nelson, former editor of Publishers Weekly, in publishing six James Patterson books a year (she'd be content with just three).

David L. Ulin noted that for years, there was a perception that corporate publishing was going to be bad for aesthetics -- but it turned out to be a bad business model.

And everyone in the room seemed to agree with Goodreads founder Otis Chandler that the model is broken.

One person Tweeted, "really not feeling the publishing 3.0 panel, it sounds like whatever happens writers are" in trouble. This blogger grabbed the mic and posed that as a question to the panelists, who started positive. There will be more pie for the writers, Richard Nash said.

"But if the question is, who's going to pay me a big, fat advance --" he continued, when Ulin interrupted, "Writers are [in trouble]."

Nash noted that poetry micropresses are flourishing in this new, hectic publishing environment. With what may be the quote of the festival, he added, "Poetry, like porn, is a harbinger of culture."

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo credit: Carolyn Kellogg

Memoirists who bare it all

Ericka SchickelGustavo ArellanoKelsey RamosL.A. Times Book FestivalmemoirRachel Resnick


Not many people are comfortable disclosing intimate details of their life struggles to an auditorium full of strangers, but that is exactly what happened in the Fowler auditorium on Saturday during the “Memoirs with a Twist” panel at the L.A. Times Festival of Books.

Authors Gustavo Arellano, Chris Ayres, Marion Winik and Rachel Resnick shared with the audience about the tough aspects of memoir-writing: writing about dead people and being addicted to sex -- and the sometimes unfortunate effects of being honest. 

Arellano is the author of “Orange County: A Personal History” (2008) and the column-turned-book “Ask A Mexican” (2007). He drew inspiration for his hilarious memoir from his background as a child of Mexican immigrants growing up in America.

“In third grade … we created a game called La Migra, which is slang for ‘immigration,’ where basically you have two groups,” Arellano said. “One group was ‘the Mexicans’ and the other group was ‘the border patrol.’ ”

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