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Authors in L.A. this week: Joe Brainard readings and more

May 7, 2012 |  1:15 pm

Joebrainard_nancybookThis post has been corrected. See the note below for details.

The New York Times obituary of Joe Brainard, who died of AIDS-related pneumonia in 1994 at 52, is rather spare in for a person who has had such a lasting influence. It runs to seven paragraphs and describes him as “an artist, writer, set designer and frequent collaborator with the New York School poets.” In describing his work, the obituary says he "brought wit, a light touch and an intimate scale to collage, painting, watercolor and assemblage, once exhibiting 2,500 tiny pieces in a single exhibition.”

In describing Brainard's writing, the obit also says he “worked in a declarative prose-poem mode” and that his best-known work is the memoir “I Remember,” which — and this is not in the New York Times — author Paul Auster has described as “one of the few totally original books I have ever read.”

Original it is. Generally one or two sentences per paragraph, and here is a taste of what he had to say:

I remember when polio was the worst thing in the world.

I remember my first erection. I thought I had some terrible disease or something.

I remember the only time I ever saw my mother cry. I was eating apricot pie.

Definitely not your standard memoir.

Auster's words are part of his introduction to “The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard,” which was released in late March by the Library of America. On Wednesday night at Skylight Books, an all-star group including Bernard Cooper, Lisa Pearson and Michael Silverblatt, will be reading from this collection of Brainard’s works.

Looking for something more celebrity-oriented?  Ryan O’Neal discusses his tumultuous relationship with Farrah Fawcett on Monday night at Barnes & Noble at the Grove and Sissy Spacek discusses her memoir at the same venue on Thursday.

As always, we recommend you call the venues to check for cancellations or shifting start times. Great book events are plentiful this week. Enjoy.

Monday, 7 p.m. Ron Rash discusses and signs his latest novel “The Cove.” Vroman’s

Monday, 7 p.m. Ryan O’Neal discusses his book “Both of Us: My Life With Farrah.” Barnes & Noble at the Grove

Tuesday, 3 p.m. Neil Sedaka discusses and signs his children’s book “Dinosaur Pet.” Book Soup

Tuesday, 7 p.m. Walter Mosley discusses and signs “The Gift of Fire/On The Head of a Pin: Two Short Novels From Crosstown to Oblivion.” Book Soup

Wednesday, 7 p.m. Alice Kessler-Harris discusses and signs “A Difficult Woman: The Challenging Life and Times of Lillian Hellman." Book Soup

Wednesday, 7 p.m. Ann Patchett discusses and signs her latest novel “State of Wonder.” Vroman’s

Wednesday, 7 p.m. Terry Tempest Williams, author of “When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice,” in conversation with Louise Steinman, curator, ALOUD series at L.A. Central Library

Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. Bernard Cooper, Aram Saroyan and Michael Silverblatt are among an all-star group reading from the collected writings of Joe Brainard. Skylight Books

Wednesday, 8 p.m. Literary Death Match pits Taylor Negron, Ramona AusubelGraham Moore and  Carolyn Cohagan in seven-minutes-or-less readings. Judges include musician Moby, comedian Rory Scovel and Times staff writer and Jacket Copy blogger Carolyn Kellogg. Tickets are $10. Busby East

Thursday, 7 p.m. Sissy Spacek discusses her book “Sissy Spacek: My Extraordinary, Ordinary Life.”  Barnes & Noble at the Grove.

Thursday, 7 p.m. L.A Confidential: An Intimate Discussion with Five Los Angeles Mystery Writers (Denise Hamilton, Naomi Hirahara, Todd Shimoda, Gary Phillips and Jim Pascoe). Vroman’s

Thursday, 10, 7 p.m. Alison Bechdel in conversation with Times staff writer Deborah Vankin, ALOUD series at L.A. Central Library.

Thursday, 7 p.m. Cathy Park Hong reads her poetry as part of reading series at the Hammer Museum.

Thursday, 7 p.m. Co-author Andrew Gumbel discusses “Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed -- and Why It Still Matters.” Barnes & Noble, 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica

Friday, 7 p.m. Chad Harbach discusses and signs his novel “The Art of Fielding.” Vroman’s

Friday, 7:30 p.m. Wendy Cheng and Laura Pulido read and discuss “A People’s Guide to Los Angeles.” Skylight Books

[For the Record, 8:52 a.m. May 8: A previous version of this post stated that a reading of author Paul Auster's collection of Joe Brainard's works at Skylight Books would be Tuesday night. The event is to be held Wednesday night.]

-- Jon Thurber

Image: "The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard." Credit: Library of America