Jacket Copy

Books, authors and all things bookish

Category: LA events

Authors in L.A.: T.C. Boyle, Jodi Picoult and a busy week


This post has been updated. Please see below for details.

One night and so many choices -- Tuesday in Los Angeles there are no fewer than four excellent literary events around town, including Anne-Marie O’Connor discussing her book on the recovery of the portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer from the Austrian government after it was taken by the Nazis during World War II. Also Tuesday, Timothy Snyder, co-author of the late Tony Judt’s last book “Thinking the Twentieth Century,” is in conversation with Jonathan Kirsch as part of the Los Angeles Public Library’s ALOUD series. (For more details on all of Tuesday's offerings and for rest of the week, see below.)

Bestselling author Jodi Picoult is in Pasadena on Wednesday, and novelist T.C. Boyle is reading and signing on Thursday. And, as always, we recommend you check with the various venues for late cancellations or time changes.   

Tuesday, March 6, 7 p.m.: Timothy Snyder, co-author of the late Tony Judt’s last book “Thinking the Twentieth Century” in conversation with Jonathan Kirsch at the LA Public Library’s Mark Taper Auditorium as part of the ALOUD series. 

Tuesday, March 6, 7 p.m.:  P.G. Sturges discusses and signs his latest novel “Tribulations of the Shortcut Man,” at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena. 

Tuesday, March 6, 7:30 p.m.: Tupelo  Hassman reads and signs her debut novel “Girlchild” at Skylight Books. 

Tuesday, March 6, 8 p.m.: Former Times staff writer Anne-Marie O’Connor discusses her book "The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, 'Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer' " at Skirball Cultural Center.

Wednesday, March 7, 7 p.m.:  Jodi Picoult discusses and signs her latest work “Lone Wolf; a Novel” at CalTech’s Ramo Auditorium in a program presented by Vroman’s.

Thursday, March 8, 7:45 a.m.:  Peter Diamandis, chief executive of the X Prize Foundation, discusses "Abundance: Why the Future Will Be Much Better Than You Think" as part of the Live Talks L.A. business series.

Thursday: March 8, 7 p.m.: Cristina Alger discusses and signs her novel “The Darlings,” called a sophisticated page-turned about a wealthy New York family involved in financial scandal. Book Soup.

Thursday, March 8, 7 p.m.: Poet Louise Gluck reads at the Hammer Museum.

Thursday, March 8, 7:30 p.m.: T.C. Boyle reads from his latest novel (now out in paperback) "When the Killing's Done" at Skylight Books.

Saturday, March 10: A.G.S. Johnson signs "The Sausage Maker's Daughters" at Chevalier's Bookstore.

[Updated on March 6 at 12:20 p.m.: The original version of this post had said A.G.S. Johnson's book is "The Sausage Maker's Daughter." It is "The Sausage Maker's Daughters."]

-- Jon Thurber

Photos: T.C. Boyle, left, in 2001; Jodi Picoult in 2001. Credits: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times; Jim Cole / Associated Press


This Sunday: Spring books preview, Anne Lamott and jazz

Spring-arts-previewSpring may be more than two weeks away, but we are getting a jump on the season this Sunday with the Arts & Books section’s “Spring Arts Preview.”

Carolyn Kellogg offers a listing of the leading book events in Southern California coming up in the next three months. That list includes Jonathan Lethem, Joan Didion, Rachel Maddow with Bill Maher, John Irving and The Times' very own Book Prize ceremony and Festival of Books, April 20-22 at USC. In a separate story, Kellogg also previews some highly anticipated books coming in the spring: Think Toni Morrison, Richard Ford, Anne Tyler, Jonathan Franzen and Robert Caro.

Book critic David Ulin talks to Anne Lamott about her latest memoir, which is a logical sequel to her extremely popular parenting journal "Operating Instructions." Her new book, “Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son,” connects the dots with her earlier work and moves it forward with Lamott’s new perspective as a grandmother.

Another anticipated book for the spring is “Half-Blood Blues,” Esi Edugyan’s jazz novel that was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize in 2011 and has been released in her native Canada and finally here. Our reviewer, staff writer Chris Barton (who provides most of the jazz coverage for The Times), writes that Edugyan’s book is pitch perfect in its depiction of musicians looking for the authentic life.

More after the jump

Continue reading »

Authors in L.A.: Former Sen. Alan Simpson, Andy Borowitz and more

Alan-simpsonFor close to 20 years, former Sen. Alan K. Simpson (R-Wyo.) carved his own path through the turbulent landscape of contemporary politics. He’s been no stranger to controversy -- he was there, representing Wyoming, during the stormy years of the Iran-Contra affair and the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

In 2001, he also co-authored the Cody Statement, a document intended as a guide for the Republican Party in matters of sexual orientation and equal rights. Simpson visits Los Angeles this week to discuss "Shooting From the Lip," a book about his life and career, with his biographer, Donald Hardy, as part of the “Out West at the Autry” series provided by the Autry National Center. Simpson’s visit is among the highlights of this week’s listings of author and book events in the L.A. area.

As always, just a reminder: Our listings are by no means complete but offer book lovers a place to start as they plan their week. Remember to check with the venue about time changes, late additions or cancellations:

Feb. 27: 7:30 p.m. “Shooting From the Lip:”: A Conversation With Sen. Alan K. Simpson and biographer Donald Hardy as part of the Out West at the Autry Series at the Autry in Griffith Park.

Feb. 28: 7 p.m. Joy Wilson discusses and signs “Joy the Baker Cookbook” at Vroman’s.

Feb. 28: 7 p.m. Eric Klinenberg in conversation with Laurie Winer on “Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone” as part of the Aloud Series at L.A.’s Central Library.

Feb. 28: 7:30 p.m. Andy Borowitz talks politics, literature and life with Patton Oswalt for Writers Bloc Los Angeles.

Feb. 29: 7 p.m. Tommy Hawkins discusses and signs “Life’s Reflections: Poetry for the People” at Vroman’s.

Feb. 29: 7 p.m. Brenda Dixon Gottschild signs and discusses "Joan Myters Brown & the Audacious Hope" at Esowon Bookstore.

Feb. 29: 7 p.m. Scotty Bowers and Lionel Friedberg sign and discuss “Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars” at Book Soup.

March 1: 8 p.m.  The Moth presents “Rush: Stories of Ticking Clocks” featuring host Rudy Rush with storytellers Jenny Allen, Kodi Azari, Annie Duke, Brian Finkelstein and Jerry Stahl at Royce Hall as part of UCLA Live.

March 1: 7 p.m.  Tim Dorsey discusses and signs “Pineapple Grenade”  at Vroman’s.

March 2: 7 p.m.  Joanne Fluke discusses and signs “Cinnamon Roll Murder” at Vroman’s.

March 2: 7 p.m. Kent Hartman discusses and signs “Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll’s Best-Kept Secret” at Booksoup.

March 2 and 3:  The 16th Annual Charlotte S. Huck Children’s Literature Festival at the University of Redlands.

March 3  Jessica Therrien signs her fantasy novel “Oppression: Children of the Gods, Book One” at Barnes and Noble in the Amerige Heights Town Center in Fullerton.

March 3: 5 p.m. Bill Hudson discusses and signs “Two Versions: The Other Side of Fame and Family” at Book Soup.

March 3: 11 a.m. Storytime for children ages 2 to 5 at Barnes & Noble at the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.

March 4: 12 p.m.  Alan M. Ehrlich signs "Plunket in Wonderland" at Chevalier’s Books.

 -- Nick Owchar

Photo: Former U.S. senator Alan K. Simpson in 2011.  Credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg 


Los Angeles Public Library launches teen reading series

Cecil Castellucci at vromansWith young adult literature become something of a cultural juggernaut, it's about time the genre spawned a literary series in Los Angeles. Starting Thursday, the central branch of the Los Angeles Public Library will begin hosting a teen reading series on the fourth Thursday of each month.

Thursday's kickoff will feature local authors Lauren Kate ("Fallen in Love"), Abby McDonald ("Getting Over Garrett Delaney"), Blake Nelson ("Dream School"), Carol Tanzman ("Dancergirl") and Kathy McCullough ("Don't Expect Magic").

Each author will give a five-minute reading followed by a panel discussion and question-and-answer session led by Cecil Castellucci, founder of the teen reading series and an L.A.-based young adult author.

"It's about time we had a teen reading series here," said Castellucci, author of "First Day on Earth" and the upcoming "Year of the Beasts." "New York has had one for five years now.

"I'm really passionate and have been for years,  making sure that young adult gets the attention it deserves," added Castellucci, who runs a monthly young-adult reading club at Skylight Books in Los Feliz. "Because we're so spread out here, it's sort of difficult to get everybody together in one place. I've been longing for community."

FalleninloveCastellucci has been a part of the New York Public Library teen reading series for several years. She was part of a panel of seven young adult authors the Central Library in downtown L.A. hosted in November for the young-adult librarians at its 72 branches.

Eva Mitnick, acting manager of youth services for the Los Angeles Public Library, credits the teen reading series' creation to "the absolute awesomeness and energy of that panel discussion" and Castellucci's participation in a similar panel in New York.

"It's Cecil who is the force of nature behind this," Mitnick said.

The teen reading series will be held the fourth Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in Meeting Room A at the Los Angeles Public Library, 630 W. 5th St. www.lapl.org/ya/events/teenscape.php


Young adult lit comes of age

'The Disenchantments' book review

'Beneath a Meth Moon' book review

-- Susan Carpenter

Photo: Teen reading series founder Cecil Castellucci at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena; "Fallen in Love" book jacket. Credit: Young-adult author Cecil Castellucci; Delacorte Books for Young Readers.

2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalists announced

What do Michael Ondaatje, Manning Marable and Stephen King have in common? They're all in the running for 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. The finalists -- five each, in 10 categories -- were announced Tuesday. The 32nd annual prizes will be awarded at a public ceremony April 20 at USC's Bovard Auditorium.

The Robert Kirsch Award for significant contribution to American letters will be presented to Rudolfo Anaya, it was also announced. Anaya's 1972 bestselling coming-of-age story, “Bless Me, Ultima,” is a seminal work of Chicano literature; in 2002, for this and subsequent books, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts. 

Figment, a collaborative digital writing community for teens, will receive the third Innovator's Award. Its previous winners are writer and publisher Dave Eggers and Powell's Books.

Awards will be presented in current interest, fiction, first fiction, biography, history, mystery-thriller, science and technology, graphic novel, poetry and young adult literature. King's book about time travel and the JFK assassination, “11/22/63,” is in the running in the mystery-thriller category. His competition includes A.D. Miller's “Snowdrops,” which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Two National Book Award finalists are competing in the fiction category: Julie Otsuka's “The Buddha in the Attic” and Edith Pearlman's short story collection, “Binocular Vision.” Among the books they'll be facing is Michael Ondaatje's “The Cat's Table.”

For the second year in a row, veteran author Jim Woodring is a finalist in the graphic novel category. Woodring is the only graphic novelist to be a two-time finalist for the award, now in its third year.

The young adult category boasts 2004 National Book Award winner Pete Hautman for his latest, “The Big Crunch,” and Printz Award winner Libba Bray, for the book “Beauty Queens.”

The finalists for biography include Manning Marable, who died just days before his long-awaited “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention” was published, and Alexandra Styron, who in “Reading My Father: A Memoir,” writes of her father William, best known for “Sophie's Choice.”

Other notable finalists include Bruce Smith in poetry, James Gleick in science and technology, Ioan Grillo in current interest, Adam Hochschild in history and Chad Harbach for first fiction. The complete list of finalists is after the jump.

The L.A. Times Book Prizes are awarded the night before the weekend's Festival of Books, which will take place at USC. Tickets for the Book Prizes ceremony will be available for purchase on March 26; check the Festival of Books website for details.

Continue reading »

Authors in L.A. this week: U.S. poet laureate Philip Levine and more

“I bless your laughter/thrown in the wind’s face,” exults U.S. poet laureate Philip Levine in the poem “My Fathers, the Baltic,” “your gall, your rages,/your abiding love…” His work has long been renowned for its clarity and for possessing such elemental force.

Levine comes to Los Angeles this week as part of the Aloud Series to discuss the lyric power of his verse: His visit is just one of the highlights of this week’s listings of author and book events in the L.A. area. Our listings are by no means complete but offer booklovers a place to start as they plan their week. As always, remember to check with the venue about time changes, late additions or cancellations:

Mon. Feb. 20: 7 p.m. Steven Rea discusses and signs "Hollywood Rides a Bike: Cycling With the Stars” at Vroman’s.

Tues. Feb. 21: 7 p.m. Lysley Tenorio discusses and signs his story collection “Monstress” at Vroman’s.

Tues. Feb. 21: 7 p.m. Sara Benincasa (with Kevin Avery, Rob Delany and Sarah Thyre) present and sign Benincasa’s “Agorafabulous!: Dispatches From My Bedroom” at Book Soup.

Tues. Feb. 21: 7 p.m. Lawrence Weschler in conversation with Times Book Critic David Ulin on “From Exile to Home: Los Angeles Literary Life 1945-1980” as part of the Aloud Series at the L.A. Central Library.

Wed. Feb. 22: 7:30 p.m. Steve Erickson reads from and signs his novel “These Dreams of You” at Skylight Books.

Wed. Feb. 22: 7:30 p.m. Zocalo Public Square presents “Does Foodie Culture Do Anyone Any Good?” –- a conversation between Adam Gopnik (author of “The Table Comes First”) and L.A. Weekly’s Jonathan Gold.

Thurs. Feb. 23: 7 p.m. Kevin Fox discusses and signs “Until the Next Time” at Book Soup.

Thurs. Feb. 23: 7 p.m. U.S. poet laureate Philip Levine discusses his career and work with Robert Casper, head of the Poetry and Literature Center, Library of Congress, as part of the Aloud Series at the L.A. Central Library.

Thurs. Feb. 23: 7 p.m. Claire Bidwell Smith discusses her debut memoir “Rules of Inheritance” at Barnes and Noble Third Street Promenade.

Fri. Feb. 24: 5 p.m. Young adult author Marissa Meyer discusses and signs her futuristic retelling of a classic fairy tale, “Cinder,” at Mrs. Nelson’s Toy and Book Shop.

Sat. Feb. 25: 5 p.m. Martha Grover reads from and signs “One More for the People” at Skylight Books.

For more events, check the following recommended sites to see what's on their schedules:

Chevalier’s Books

Dark delicacies

Hammer Museum

The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens

Skirball Cultural Center

Writers Bloc Los Angeles


-- Nick Owchar

Photo: U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine in 1996. Credit: Russell Frank / For The Times


David Foster Wallace considered, at Pomona College Saturday

The work and legacy of David Foster Wallace will be the subject of a panel discussion with a critic, colleague and his biographer Saturday at Pomona College
The work and legacy of David Foster Wallace will be the subject of a panel discussion Saturday at Pomona College in Claremont. It's quite a lineup: biographer D.T. Max and critic Laura Miller have flown in to participate, and they'll be joined by writer Jonathan Lethem, who succeeded Wallace as Pomona's Roy E. Disney professor of creative writing and English.

Wallace, of course, wrote the novel "Infinite Jest," the footnote-heavy behemoth published in 1996 that has become a landmark work of contemporary fiction. He was a MacArthur "Genius" Fellow who also wrote nonfiction, with essays collected in the popular anthology "Consider the Lobster." Wallace was the first writer to be appointed as the Roy E. Disney professor at Pomona College, where he began teaching in 2002. He committed suicide in 2008 at age 46. In 2011, his novel "The Pale King" was published posthumously.

Max wrote about Wallace's struggle with depression and his literary legacy in a powerful New Yorker article; he's now writing a biography of Wallace for Viking Press. "The reason I wanted to go longer on him is that most writers live and die in a room writing, and Wallace definitely did that, but he also lived and died out on the street," Max said when the biography was announced. "He was in the world in a way that most writers are not. Because of his peculiar openness to the world and his peculiar kind of sensitivity, everything that happened in this country affected him and entered his fiction in a way that I don't think is true of other writers."

Lethem, another MacArthur "Genius" Fellow, carefully considered Wallace's legacy before coming to Pomona College. "It was very tender, because Wallace loomed so large here," he told me in 2011. "His footprint as a colleague, the extraordinary impression he left on the whole series of English majors who've now floated out into the world. ... The idea that I might be part of the moving-on seemed very like an honor."

Miller, who interviewed Wallace in 1996 after the publication of "Infinite Jest," later wrote, "I knew him as a reader knows a writer." Which is how most of us know him too.

The panel discussion of David Foster Wallace is open to the public; it is scheduled to take place in Pomona College's Edmunds Ballroom beginning at 5 p.m.


A sunny move for New Yorker Jonathan Lethem

Book review: "The Pale King" by David Foster Wallace

Hollywood celebrates David Foster Wallace's "The Pale King"

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Image credit: Pomona College

Authors in L.A.: Katherine Boo and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, too


Feeling bookish this week but not quite in a mood to read? Well, there are plenty of events around town to pique your interest if your interest involves listening. Here is a sampling. And, as always, we recommend checking with the venue for time changes, late additions or cancellations.

Mon. Feb. 13: 7 p.m. Paula Huston discusses and signs “Simplifying the Soul: Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spirit” at Vroman’s.

Tue. Feb. 14, 7 p.m. Robert Scheer in conversation with Mr. Fish, author of “Go Fish, How to Win Contempt and Influence People,” at Vroman’s .

Tue. Feb. 14, 7 p.m. Ali Wentworth discusses and signs her memoir, “Ali in Wonderland: And Other Tales” at Book Soup.

Wed. Feb. 15, 8 p.m. Katherine Boo discusses her book “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity. Zocolo Public Square at the Skirball Cultural Center

Wed. Feb. 15, 7 p.m. Actress and author Carrie Fisher discusses and signs her latest memoir, “Shockaholic,” at Book Soup.

Thur. Feb. 16, 7 p.m. PG Sturges presents and signs “Tribulations of the Shortcut Man,” his follow-up novel to “Shortcut Man,” at Book Soup.

Thur. Feb. 16, 7 p.m. Percival Everett and Steve Erickson explore the themes of memory, identity and place in conversation with Brighde Mullins, director, USC Masters in Professional Writing Program. ALOUD at the Los Angeles Central Library

Continue reading »

Feb. 6: Last day to volunteer for World Book Night

Ever feel like handing out 20 free books to people who like to read? You're a perfect candidate for the World Book Night 2012. Over the last few years, it has distributed thousands of free books in the U.K.; this year, it comes to the United States for the first time, with its massive giveaway happening on April 23.

While its pickup locations haven't been announced, I've heard through the grapevine that bookstores around Los Angeles will be participating.

The deadline for signing up to give out free books, from a list that includes popular bestsellers, is Feb. 6, at midnight eastern time.

The way it works is this: you submit your volunteer form, selecting the books you'd most like to give out for free from a list of 30 available books. There are prize-winners, bestsellers, and books that have been both. Some books that are on the list: "Just Kids" by Patti Smith, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot, "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie, "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini, and Stephen King's "The Stand."

Pick up the books from a local bookseller or library and then give them out to 30 willing acquaintances and complete strangers, telling them what you love about the book and why you think they might like it, too.


World Book Night is coming to the U.S.

World Book Night freebies sparked sales boost

First U.S. World Book Night giveaway announces book selections

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Was Elizabeth Taylor a feminist?

Elizabethtaylor_cleopatraActress and beauty Elizabeth Taylor will be the topic of an upcoming discussion Feb. 2 at Writers Block. Specifically, two contemporary writers will be examining Taylor as a feminist.

Sure, Taylor was married seven times, socked away a royalty-sized stash of expensive jewelry, and hawked her own perfume named "White Diamonds." The star was blazing a path -- at least that's what MG Lord argues in her new book, "The Accidental Feminist: How Elizabeth Taylor Raised Our Consciousness And We Were Too Distracted By Her Beauty To Notice."

Taylor's acting career spanned 60 years. As a child actress, she made a splash in "National Velvet" (1944), appeared in "Little Women" (1949), and was grown up enough to get married in "The Father of the Bride" (1950). Her celebrity grew and grew, with high-profile marriages, tragedies and affairs. She also was taken seriously as an actress: She won a best actress Oscar for "Butterfield 8" (a film that hasn't aged well) and for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (which has). She was an early and vocal AIDS activist when many in Hollywood were still squeamish about the disease. Late in life, her own health was not good; Taylor died March 23, 2011, at the age of 79.

Lord will be in conversation with Susan Orlean. It's an opportunity for locals to see the New Yorker staff writer in action. Orlean set down temporary stakes in Los Angeles last year, but has spent many of her recent months on the road. She's been busy promoting her movie-star dog biography "Rin Tin Tin: The Life and Legend," an L.A. Times bestseller.

The discussion is part of the ongoing Writers Bloc literary series, which takes place in multiple locations around the city. This one will be held at the ICM Theater in the former MGM building in Century City on Feb. 2 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20.


16 Elizabeth Taylor books, scandals included

That was fast: Two Elizabeth Taylor books updated

Susan Orlean on writing "Rin Tin Tin"

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in the 1963 film "Cleopatra." Credit: File


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


Explore Bestsellers Lists





Tweets and retweets from L.A. Times staff writers.