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This Sunday: Spring books preview, Anne Lamott and jazz

March 2, 2012 | 12:34 pm

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

Finding authentic olive oil from Tuscany may not be as easy as it sounds, explains Times Food Editor Russ Parsons in his review of “Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil” by Tom Mueller.  The book, Parsons writes, is a thorough and entertaining look at a business with standards of excellence that can only be described as “slippery.”

Not so slippery is Susan Carpenter’s look at the YA novel “Embrace,” the debut effort by Jessica Shirvington. In the kickoff for a new series, the book’s heroine, 17-year-old Violet, finds she has angelic powers but has to “embrace that destiny and fully realize it,” Carpenter writes. The book isn’t without issues, Carpenter says, but she notes it is “an interesting-enough story.”

Nick Owchar’s “The Siren’s Call” column this month looks at the way the distant past keeps surfacing in the present: He looks at books about Leonardo da Vinci, A.S. Byatt's retelling of Norse myths and also “How to Win an Election,” in which the Roman orator Cicero receives some brotherly campaign help.

On the bestseller list, Anne Rice’s latest novel “The Wolf Gift,” which we reviewed last week, debuts at No. 7. Katherine Boo’s “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” moves up to No. 1 on the nonfiction list.

As always, thanks for reading,

-- Jon Thurber, book editor

Image: Illustration for the Times' 2012 Spring Art Preview  Credit: Jonathan Bartlett / For The Times