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Books, authors and all things bookish

Category: book calendar

Author events this week in L.A.: Sharks, Jets and Batman signings ... oh my!

  The former publicist and assistant to Christian Bale, who plays Batman in "The Dark Knight Rises," will sign copies of his tell-all about Bale this week

As the Dark Knight descends on movie theaters this week, a new tell-all book on Christian Bale arrives. Tickets sold out at all the Batman screenings? Head on over to Barnes and Noble in Manhattan Beach on Friday, when Bale's former publicist and assistant, Harrison Cheung, will be signing copies of "Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman." Cheung, who touts himself as the real life Alfred, lived and worked with Christian and his father for 10 years: He shares firsthand accounts of family dysfunction and the actor's extreme dedication to his craft.

Looking for something a little more abstract? Check out wordsmith Laurel Airica in action as she dissectes the English language for wordplay and inspiration in our daily lives with her live presentation "WordMagic Global: Using the Word for the World's ReCreation," from 7-10 p.m. at The Great Spirits Ranch in Malibu.

As always, check with bookstores for event/venue changes or cancellations.

7/17, 8 p.m.: Chuck Palahniuk presents "Invisible Monsters Remix" a radically refashioned "director's cut" of the author's 1999 novel. Skirball Cultural Center

7/18, 7 p.m.: Jess Walter discusses and signs "Beautiful Ruins: A Novel". Book Soup

7/18, 7 p.m.: Carlos Ruiz Zafon presents and signs "The Prisoner of Heaven: A Novel". All Saints Church, Pasadena

7/20, 11 a.m.: Harrison Cheung will sign copies of his book "Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman". Barnes & Noble Manhattan Beach

7/20, 7:30 p.m.: The traveling Slake show continues with a group reading from "Slake LA Issue 4: Dirt."  Vroman's

7/20, 7:30 p.m.: Paula Priamos and Dana Johnson read and sign their books "The Shyster's Daughter," and "Elsewhere, California." Skylight Books

7/21, 7-10 p.m.: Santa Monica-based linguist and author Laurel Airica presents "WordMagic Global: Using the Word for the World's ReCreation." Great Spirits Ranch Malibu

7/ 22, 1 p.m.: Cast members from "West Side Story" will be on hand to share behind-the-scenes stories about the making of the classic film detailed in their book, "Our Story: Jets and Sharks Then and Now." Barnes & Noble Calabasas

-- Liesl Bradner

Photo: Christian Bale as Batman in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures "The Dark Knight Rises." Credit: Ron Phillips / Warner Bros.

Pick five: Deanne Stillman, Gigi Levangie Grazer and other L.A. author events this week

Desert-reckoningCities aren’t  the only places where murder and menace live. Among Deanne Stillman's many works (“Mustang,” “Joshua Tree”), she has spent much of her writing career zeroing in on those desert places that have secrets just as disturbing as those found in more urbanized parts of Southern California.

First came Stillman’s “Twentynine Palms: A True Story of Murder, Marines and the Mojave”; now, in “Desert Reckoning,” she gives us a crime in the Antelope Valley and an unexpected criminal, who tries to evade arrest by heading out into the Mojave.

Skylight Books in L.A. features Stillman this week, while, for lighter fare, you might head over to Vroman’s in Pasadena for an event featuring Gigi Levangie Grazer, whose new novel, “The After Wife,” follows the mishaps and comedy of a 40-ish widow trying to restart her life in the sometimes surreal landscape of L.A.

As always, check with bookstores for event/venue changes or cancellations.


7/9, 7 p.m.: Sapphire (“The Kid”) discusses her work in conversation with Brighde Mullins, director of USC’s masters in professional writing program, Aloud Series at L.A.’s Central Library.

7/11, 7 p.m.: Carissa Phelps reads and discusses her new book, “Runaway Girl: Escaping Life on the Streets, One Helping Hand at a Time,” Book Soup.

7/12, 7 p.m.: Gigi Levangie Grazer discusses and signs her satirical novel about a widow starting over in L.A., “The After Wife,” Vroman’s.

7/14, 1 p.m.:  Stephanie Barbé Hammer reads and signs her new book, “Sex With Buildings,” Chevalier’s Bookstore.

7/14, 5 p.m.:  Deanne Stillman discusses and signs “Desert Reckoning: A Town Sheriff, a Mojave Hermit, and the Biggest Manhunt in Modern California History,” Skylight Books.

-- Nick Owchar

John Irving, Scott Turow and other L.A. author events this week

Los angeles wpa guideSome students of Los Angeles history may use a car to explore and look for enduring signs of the city's past, while others may prefer to do it from a lounge chair with "Los Angeles in the 1930s: The WPA Guide to the City of Angels," an engrossing Depression-era document reissued not long ago with an introduction by author David Kipen. Kipen sits down this week with Gray Brechin of UC Berkeley's Department of Geography to discuss what the city was like before World War II in an event presented by the Central Library's Aloud series.

As always, check with venues for cancellations or time/event changes

Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.: Colin Dickey discusses and signs "Afterlives of the Saints" at Skylight Books.

Wednesday, 7 p.m.: Photographers Mark Arbeit, George Holz and Just Loomis discuss their friendship and mentorship with photographer Helmut Newton captured in the memoir "Three Boys from Pasadena" at Book Soup.

Thursday, 5 p.m.:  Adam Carolla reads and signs “Not Taco Bell Material” at Barnes and Noble at the Irvine Spectrum Center.

Thursday, 7 p.m.: The Aloud Series at the Central Library presents "A New Deal for Los Angeles," featuring authors David Kipen and Gray Brechin in a conversation about how FDR's agencies radically transformed the city during the Great Depression.

Thursday, 8 p.m.:  Live Talks L.A. presents “An Evening with John Irving” at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. Irving will discuss his new novel, “In One Person.”

Friday, 8:15 a.m. Live Talks L.A. business forum presents a conversation between Scott Turow and Times staff writer Carolyn Kellogg at the City Club on Bunker Hill in downtown Los Angeles.

-- Nick Owchar

Photo: Cover image of "Los Angeles in the 1930s: The WPA Guide to the City of Angels." Credit: University of California Press

Pick five: Gail Collins on Texas, Frank Deford and more author events this week

Gail-collinsGeorge W. Bush may not be commander in chief anymore, but his home state of Texas still figures large in the political landscape -- something New York Times columnist Gail Collins takes on in her latest book, "As Texas Goes: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda." She visits L.A. this week to discuss the arguments in her book with essayist and commentator Anne Taylor Fleming.

Here's the thing: Tuesday night poses some tough choices for book lovers who are equally fascinated by politics and sports. On the same night, Frank Deford will be in Santa Monica talking about his memoir of the sporting life, "Over Time." Flip a coin, or try to sprint between events -- after all, they are an hour apart -- and good luck. (And if you're a science fiction fan as well, then you're really going to have rough going: Add John Scalzi to your dilemma. See below.)

As always, check with venues for additional information about changes or cancellations. 

Tuesday, 7 p.m.:  Aloud Series at L.A.'s Central Library presents Gail Collins ("As Texas Goes") in conversation with novelist, essayist and commentator Anne Taylor Fleming, downtown L.A.

Tuesday, 7 p.m.: Sci-fi author John Scalzi discusses and signs "Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas," Vroman's Bookstore.

Tuesday, 8 p.m.: LiveTalks L.A. features veteran sportswriter Frank Deford ("Over Time") in conversation with former NBA player John Salley, Track 16 at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica.

Thursday, 8 p.m.: Live Talks L.A. presents an evening with Christopher Buckley ("They Eat Puppies, Don't They?"), Track 16 at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica.

 Friday, 7:30 p.m. Carlin Romano signs and discusses his book "America The Philosophical," Skylight Books.

-- Nick Owchar

Photo: cover of Gail Collins' "As Texas Goes."  Credit: Liveright




Pick five: Oscar Hijuelos and other L.A.-area author events you shouldn’t miss

Oscar Hijuelos scored a Pulitzer Prize 20 years ago for his novel “The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love” – and if you had to pick a single book event to attend this week, his conversation with NPR correspondent Mandalit Del Barco is a sure thing. “An Evening with Oscar Hijuelos” promises not just to zero-in on his best-known book, but his many acclaimed novels, memoir and the issues of faith and identity that he has examined during his career.

Other worthwhile events in this week’s “pick five” include a discussion of L.A.’s less-considered sides at Vroman’s and a visit to Book Soup by cast members from the 1965 movie “The Sound of Music.” Check directly with bookstores and venues for any time changes or cancellations.


 Monday , 7 p.m.  An event sponsored by Zócalo/UCLA considers the influence of social scientist James Q. Wilson on Los Angeles in a panel moderated by UCLA Public Policy analyst Mark Kleiman and featuring LAPD chief Charlie Beck, Pepperdine University economist Angela Hawken, and UCLA political scientist Mark Peterson.

Thursday, 8 p.m. LiveTalks L.A. presents “An Evening with Oscar Hijuelos,” featuring the author in conversation about his life and work with NPR correspondent Mandalit Del Barco, Track 16 at Bergamot Station, Santa Monica.

Thursday, 7 p.m.  Tired of the tourist’s version of L.A.? Laura Pulido and Wendy Cheng will discuss and sign their book “A People’s Guide to Los Angeles,” Vroman’s Bookstore.

Friday, 6 p.m. Barnes & Noble in Rancho Cucamonga presents the Associated Artists of the Inland Empire's Second Annual Gallery Opening, art show and bookfair. It begins with a gallery ribbon-cutting at 6 p.m.

Saturday 3 p.m. Cast members from the movie “The Sound of Music” – Charmian Carr, Angela Cartwright and Kym Karath – sign “The Sound of Music Family Scrapbook,” Book Soup .

 -- Nick Owchar

Photo: Oscar Hijuelos in 2007.  Credit:  Ulf Andersen/Getty Images



Authors in L.A. this week: Eli Broad, John Sandford, Sherlock Holmes tribute

Eli Broad’s “The Art of Being Unreasonable: Lessons in Unconventional Thinking” doesn’t just advertise being unconventional in the title. The book itself is unconventional too. On the surface, it promises what many management books by enormously successful individuals promise: insights into leadership gleaned from a lifetime’s worth of experiences.

It definitely has that – there are plenty of rules on, say, doing one’s homework before committing to a business decision – but there is much that’s unexpected. If readers go beyond that surface, they find something else: the kinds of personal revelations usually contained by a memoir. Like this one, on failing to strike the right balance between work and family, especially with regard to Broad’s two sons:

I missed too many moments, and I regret it. I know it from watching the way other parents are with their children… Although I am proud of my accomplishments, I sometimes wonder whether I should have chosen differently.

Not your typical book—and Tuesday’s appearance by the billionaire philanthropist, in a conversation with Times editor-at-large Jim Newton as part of the Central Library’s Aloud series, promises not to be typical either.

Also this week is a visit to Vroman’s by thriller writer John Sandford and a Hammer Readings event dedicated to the great detective Sherlock Holmes. Led by untiring Holmes annotator Leslie Klinger, and including mystery writer Denise Hamilton, filmmaker Nicholas Meyer and private eye Sarah Alcorn, this evening – like Broad’s – will surely be more than just …. elementary.

As always, check with individual venues for any cancellations or time/event changes.

* * *  

May 21  7 p.m. Imran Ahmad discusses and signs "The Perfect Gentleman: A Muslim Boy Meets the West." Vroman's Bookstore.

May 21  7 p.m. Deborah Michel discusses and signs "Prosper in Love." Book Soup.

May 21, 7:30 p.m. Gideon Lewis-Kraus ("A Sense of Direction") and Tom Bissell ("Magic Hours") discuss and sign their books. Skylight Books.

May 22  7 p.m. Lama Marut discusses and signs "A Spiritual Renegade’s Guide to the Good Life." Vroman's Bookstore.

May 22  7 p.m. Brian Doherty discusses and signs "Ron Paul's rEVOLution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired." Book Soup.

May 22, 7  p.m. Eli Broad in conversation with Jim Newton, editor-at-large, Los Angeles Times, on "The Art of Being Unreasonable: Lessons in Unconventional Thinking." Aloud Series presented by the Central Library.

May 22, 7 p.m. UCLA's Hammer Readings series presents a discussion, led by Leslie Klinger, of "Some Favorite Writers: An Evening with Sherlock Holmes and Friends."

May 22, 7:30 p.m. Cecil Castellucci reads and signs her young adult novel "The Year of the Beasts." Skylight Books.

May 23 7 p.m. John Sandford discusses and signs "Stolen Prey." Vroman's Bookstore.

May 23  7 p.m.  J.R. Helton discusses and signs "Drugs: A Novel" with guest Joseph Mattson. Book Soup.

May 23, 7:30 p.m. Richard Jewell reads and signs "RKO Radio Pictures." Skylight Books.

May 24 7 p.m. Lizz Winstead discusses and signs "Lizz Free or Die: Essays." Vroman's Bookstore.

May 24 7 p.m. Leni Zumas discusses and signs "The Listeners." Book Soup.

May 24, 7 p.m. Arlie Hochschild in conversation with Amy Parish, biological anthropologist and primatologist at USC, about "The Outsourced Self: Intimate Life in Market Times." Aloud Series presented by the Central Library.

 -- Nick Owchar 

Photo: Philanthropist Eli Broad earlier this year with a design behind him of his new art museum for downtown L.A. Credit: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times


Authors in town this week: Benjamin Busch, Erik Larson and Pico Iyer

Benjamin Busch, center, while on "The Wire"
Benjamin Busch has an interesting resume. He’s an actor -- he played Anthony Colicchio on the HBO series “The Wire,” appearing in the final three seasons of the show -- and also a photographer, former Marine Corps officer and writer.

The son of novelist Frederick Busch, he was raised in upstate New York and went to Vassar College. An item in the New Yorker recently noted that his parents had protested the Vietnam War and Benjamin confounded them by joining the Marines after graduating. He served two tours of duty in Iraq with the 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion and, while there, took photographs of his combat experience. He has shown those photographs in three exhibitions. In his memoir, “Dust to Dust,” he considers his life so far -- he's in town this week at Vroman’s and Skylight Books.

Also this week: Pico Iyer, one of our favorite writers and thinkers, is in conversation with Lisa Napoli in a Live Talks Los Angeles program at the Fowler Musuem  at UCLA on Thursday. Erik Larson, author of  “Devil in the White City” and, most recently, “In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin” in conversation with David Kipen at Writer’s Bloc on Tuesday. And, if dogs are your thing, W. Bruce Cameron discusses his latest foray into the canine world also on Tuesday at Book Soup.

There are plenty of great, no-cost, low-cost, higher-cost events available, so get out and enjoy. As always, we suggest you check the appropriate venue to confirm information and notice on late cancellations.  

Monday, May 14, 7 p.m. Benjamin Busch reads and signs “Dust to Dust: a Memoir.” Vroman’s

Monday, May 14, 7 p.m. David Talbot discusses and signs “Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror and Deliverance in the City of Love.” Book Soup

Tuesday, May 15, 7:30 p.m. Benjamin Busch reads and signs “Dust to Dust: a Memoir” Skylight Books

Tuesday, May 15, 7:30 p.m. Erik Larson, author of “Devil in the White City” and “In the Garden of Beasts” in conversation with David Kipen in a Writer’s Bloc event at Temple Emanuel, 300 N. Clark Drive, Beverly Hills. Tickets: $20

Tuesday, May 15, 7 p.m. Christelyn D. Karazin and Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn discuss “Swirling: How to Date, Mate, and Relate Mixing Race, Culture and Creed" Eso Won Bookstore

Tuesday, May 15, 7 p.m. W. Bruce Cameron discusses and signs “A Dog’s Journey” Book Soup

Tuesday, May 15, 8 p.m. Gregg Allman talks about his memoir “My Cross to Bear” with Alan Light as part of Live Talks Los Angeles program at Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. Tickets: $25

Continue reading »

Authors in L.A. this week: Matty Simmons, Julie Andrews

Author events this week in the Los Angeles area are especially rich, offering something for nearly every taste (YA, crime thrillers, science, myth, lifestyle, Hollywood and more). Though the top headliners must surely be Julie Andrews, Rodney King and James Ellroy (teaming up with Helen Knode),  let's shine the spotlight on something else -- an event featuring Matty Simmons.

Don't know the name? Simmons was co-producer, with Ivan Reitman, of that charming, gentle tale of youthful mischief on a fictional college campus, the 1978 movie "Animal House." That movie produced many nuggets of wisdom, including the one that gives Simmons the title of his memoir: "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son."

"Fat, Drunk and Stupid" contains plenty of behind-the-scenes details, like this one about the origins of the scene in which a folk singer (played by Stephen Bishop) has his guitar smashed by John Belushi:

Bishop was another who came to the movie as an 'FOL,' or Friend of Landis. He would eventually write the theme song for the movie. The song that Bishop sings as Bluto walks down the stairs, "I Gave My Love a Cherry," is more than 600 years old. We picked it because we had no money left to pay additional music royalties, and being that old, the song is in the public domain. It also was the perfect song to elicit Bluto's reaction, the smashing of the guitar that was a complete surprise to Bishop, who admitted later that it freaked him out.

Maybe Simmons will  share more stories like this one at his event this week.

As a reminder, make sure to check with stores (especially Vroman's for the Andrews and Ellroy/Knode events) on event locations and any changes to venue or time.

4/30  7 p.m. Rodney King signs “The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption” at Esowon Bookstore.

4/30  7:30 p.m.  Madeline Miller reads and signs her novel “Song of Achilles” at Skylight Books.

5/1  7 p.m. Leonard Mlodinow discusses and signs “Subliminal” at Vroman’s Bookstore.

5/1  7  p.m.  Devan Sipher discusses and signs “The Wedding Beat: A Novel” at Book Soup.

5/2  6 p.m.  Trenton Lee Stewart discusses and signs “The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict” at Vroman’s Bookstore.

5/2 7 p.m. Vinny G discusses and signs “Control the Crazy: My Plan to Stop Stressing, Avoid Drama, and Maintain Inner Cool” at Book Soup.

5/2  7:30 p.m. Apocalypse Noir: Helen Knode in conversation with James Ellroy about her novel “Wildcat Play” at Skylight Books.

5/3  Elizabeth Goldsmith signs “The King's Mistresses” at Chevalier’s Books.

5/3  7 p.m. Helen Knode discusses and signs “Wildcat Play,” joined by mystery great James Ellroy, who will also discuss "The Hilliker Curse" at Vroman’s Bookstore. Important: Check with store about event location.

5/3  7 p.m. Julie Andrews signs “The Very Fairy Princess: Here Comes the Flower Girl!” at Vroman’s Bookstore. Important: Check with store about event location.

5/3  7 p.m. Allison Samuels signs “What Would Michelle Do? A Modern-day Guide to Living with Substance and Style” at Esowon Bookstore.

5/3  7 p.m. Matty Simmons discusses and signs “Fat, Drunk, and Stupid: The Inside Story Behind the Making of Animal House” at Book Soup.

5/3  7:30 p.m.  Seth Greenland reads and signs his novel “The Angry Buddhist” at Skylight Books.

5/4  7 p.m. Harriett Bronson discusses and signs “Charlie & Me” at Vroman’s Bookstore.

5/4  7 p.m. Charles Rosenberg discusses and signs “Death on a High Floor: A Legal Thriller” at Book Soup.

5/4  7:30 p.m.  Issue-release party for Slake No. 4 at Atwater Crossing (tickets required for admission).

5/5  2 p.m. Helen Knode discusses and signs “Wildcat Play: A Mystery” at Book Soup.

5/5  4 p.m.  Bart Edelman discusses and signs “The Geographer's Wife” at Vroman’s Bookstore.

5/5  5 p.m.  James Riley reads and signs his middle readers novel “Twice Upon a Time” at Skylight Books.

 -- Nick Owchar

Photo: From left, Tom Hulce, John Belushi and Stephen Furst in the movie "National Lampoon's Animal House." Credit: Universal Studios 

Authors in L.A. this week: Gustavo Arellano, Ken Caillat and more

"Making Rumors" by Ken Caillat and "Taco USA" by Gustavo Arellano
Food for the gut and for the ears: Gustavo Arellano explores the popularity of Mexican cuisine in his latest book "Taco U.S.A." while Ken Caillat gives readers a glimpse into the studio when Fleetwood Mac recorded the classic 1977 album "Rumours." Both authors discuss their books at Southland events this week.

No interest in the success story behind ballpark nachos? Or who argued during the recording of "You Make Lovin' Fun"?  Want something more serious?

Far more sober fare will be served Tuesday night when religion scholar Jack Miles sits down with Marxist theorist Slavoj Zizek and theologian Boris Gunjevic to discuss their new book "God in Pain: Inversions of Apocalypse" as part of the L.A. Central Library's "Aloud" series.

Zizek and Gunjevic are interested in examining the nature of Christian fundamentalism, what Islam says about religious belief, and the contradictory impulses troubling some atheists, as Zizek explains:

The modern atheist thinks he knows that God is dead; what he doesn't know is that, unconsciously, he continues to believe in God. What characterizes modernity is no longer the standard figure of the believer who secretly harbors intimate doubts about his belief and engages in transgressive fantasies. What we have today is a subject who presents himself as a tolerant hedonist dedicated to the pursuit of happiness, but whose unconscious is the site of prohibitions -- what is repressed are not illicit desires or pleasures, but prohibitions themselves.

It's a discussion far more daunting than the evolution of tacos, to be sure, but Miles is a formidable scholar with a knack for clarity and just the right person to helm this conversation.

Also in town this week are Carol Higgins Clark, Christopher Moore and A.J. Jacobs, among others. As always, we recommend that you check with the bookstore or venue for any time or event changes.

4/23 7:45 p.m. Skylight Books will participate in a paperback book giveaway as part of World Book Night (you must sign up in order to receive a book).

4/24  7 p.m. Vroman’s presents Julia Alvarez discusses and signs "A Wedding in Haiti" at All Saints Church in Pasadena.

4/24 7 p.m. Hammer Readings presents "New American Writing" featuring Aimee Bender and Etgar Keret at UCLA's Hammer Museum.

4/24  7 p.m. Carol Higgins Clark signs and discusses “Gypped” at Book Soup.

4/24  7 p.m.  The Aloud Series at the Central Library in Los Angeles presents Slavoj Zizek and Boris Gunjevic ("God in Pain: Inversions of Apocalypse") in conversation with Jack Miles, distinguished professor of english and religious studies at UC Irvine.

4/25  7 p.m. Gustavo Arellano presents and signs “Taco U.S.A.” at Book Soup.  

4/25  7 p.m. A.J. Jacobs discusses and signs "Drop Dead Healthy" at Vroman’s.

4/26  6 p.m. Ree Drummond presents and signs "The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier" at Vroman’s.

4/26  7 p.m. The Aloud Series at the Central Library in Los Angeles presents Javier Sicilia -- "Poetics of Protest: Giving Voice to Mexico's Movement for Peace" -- in conversation with Ruben Martinez, author and professor at Loyola Marymount University, with translation by Betto Arcos.

4/26  7 p.m. Ken Caillat presents and signs “Making Rumours: The Inside Story of the Classic Fleetwood Mac Album” at Book Soup.

4/26  7:30 p.m. Writers Bloc presents Arab Israeli author Sayed Kashua in conversation with UCLA professor Arieh Saposnik.

 4/27  6 p.m. Willard Poetry Recital & Art Exhibit at Vroman’s.

4/27  7:30 p.m. Zocalo Public Square presents "What Will Digital Medicine Look Like?" a lecture by The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care").

4/28  Christopher Moore discusses and signs "Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d'Art" at Vroman’s.

4/28  Stephen Motika signs "Western Practice: Poetry" at Chevalier's Books.

4/28  1 p.m. James Kaelan re-releases his novella "We're Getting On" and premieres his documentary at the United Film Festival at Skylight Books.

4/28  5 p.m. Guy Delsile reads and signs his book of graphic journalism  "Jerusalem" at Skylight Books.

-- Nick Owchar

Images: The covers of "Making Rumours" and "Taco U.S.A." Credits: Wiley and Scribner, respectively

This week in L.A.: Olympian Amanda Beard, Piper Laurie and more

Swimming gave Olympian Amanda Beard a sense of belonging. "With the sun shining, my sisters as teammates, and my parents as cheerleaders," she writes in her memoir "In the Water They Can't See You Cry," "I would have been happy to stay in the water forever. Life would always be like this, because why change what's perfect?"

But when success arrived -- in the form of seven Olympic medals and her camera-ready good looks -- everything in her life did change, and her memoir describes how she responded with self-destructive behavior. Beard visits the L.A. area this week, specifically Vroman's in Pasadena and at the Barnes & Noble at Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade, to discuss her new book and what finally saved her life.

Vroman's also welcomes another author of a swimming-related book: Lynn Sherr, who looks at the activity as both sport and social experience in "Swim: Why We Love the Water." H2O also seems to trickle through Lynell George's conversation with poets Wanda Coleman and Lewis Macadams on "Concrete Rivers: The Emotional Topography of LA” for the Central Library's Aloud Series.

Feeling a bit waterlogged? That's OK. Other author visits this week include veteran actress Piper Laurie on her Hollywood life, RJ Smith on James Brown and a Hammer poetry reading in honor of late Nobel laureate Wislawa Szymborska. On the other hand, Szymborska does bring us back to the subject of water. She wrote about it once, about its life-saving and death-bringing meanings, in the poem "Water":

You have saved houses from fire, you have carried off houses
as you did trees, forests as cities.

You’ve been in christening fonts and courtesan’s baths.
In kisses and coffins.

As always, we advise that you check with bookstores and venues for any time or other changes to the events listed below.

April 9  7 p.m. Piper Laurie discusses and signs “Learning to Live Out Loud: A Memoir” at Book Soup.

April 9  7:30 p.m. Readings from Grantland, Issue 2 at Skylight Books.

April 9  7:30 p.m. L.A. times columnist and author Michael Hiltzik discusses “Medical Devices: Where Are the Watchdogs? The Story of the Lap-Band” as the Dock Society Lecture at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.

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