BUKOWSKI BIRTHDAY PARTY featuring JERRY STAHL, RICHARD LANGE, and DAN FANTE

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on August 17th, 2014

Ham on RyePost Office, and The Women (new editions from Ecco)

 To celebrate what would have been the 94th birthday of literary legend Charles Bukowski (born August 16, 1920), we're throwing a party featuring Jerry StahlRichard Lange, and Dan Fante, reading excerpts of their favorite Bukowski works.  A birthday cake and tasty beverages will also be served, thanks to our sponsor, Ecco, who just published new editions of three of Bukowski's most popular novels.

Charles Bukowski is one of America's best-known contemporary writers of poetry and prose, and, many would claim, its most influential and imitated poet. He was born in 1920 in Andernach, Germany, to an American soldier father and a German mother, and brought to the United States at the age of three. He was raised in Los Angeles and lived there for fifty years. He published his first story in 1944 when he was twenty-four and began writing poetry at the age of thirty-five. He died in San Pedro, California, on March 9, 1994, at the age of seventy-three, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp

Jerry Stahl is the author of the narcotic memoir Permanent Midnight and Perv—a Love Story, both Los Angeles Times bestsellers, as well as the acclaimed novels Pain KillersPlainclothes Naked, and I, Fatty. He has written extensively for film and television.

Richard Lange is the author of the story collection Dead Boys, which received an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the novels This Wicked World and Angel Baby. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and his fiction has appeared in Best American Mystery Stories 2004 and 2011. He lives in Los Angeles. 

Dan Fante is the author of the memoir Fante, the novels 86'dChump ChangeMooch, and Spitting Off Tall Buildings, and several books of poetry, short stories, and plays. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son.

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STEPH CHA reads from BEWARE BEWARE

Posted in , literature, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on August 17th, 2014

Beware Beware (Minotaur Books)

 Please join us for a very special launch event for Skylight favorite, Steph Cha!

Juniper Song--an unforgettable new crime heroine hailed as "young, sharp, and worldly-wise" by New York Times bestselling author Meg Gardiner--returns in this smart, fast-paced follow-up to Steph Cha's critically acclaimed debutFollow Her Home.

Working as an apprentice at a P.I. firm, Juniper Song finds herself nose deep in a Hollywood murder scandal where the lies may be more glamorous than most, but the truths they cover are just as ugly. When a young woman named Daphne Freamon calls looking for an eye on her boyfriend, her boss punts the client to Song. Daphne is an independently wealthy painter living in New York, and her boyfriend Jamie Landon is a freelance screenwriter in Los Angeles, ghostwriting a vanity project for aging movie star Joe Tilley. Song quickly learns that there's more to this case than a simple tail, and her suspicions are confirmed when Tilley winds up dead in a hotel room. Nonetheless, when Jamie becomes the prime suspect in the movie star's murder, she agrees to help the charismatic couple discover the truth, even as the police build their case against Jamie. As she chases leads and questions grieving Hollywood insiders, she uncovers a sordid layer of blackmail and hidden identities, of a history of violence that leaves no one--not even Song--safe from judgment.

An edgy, gorgeously written read, Beware Beware is perfect for fans of Megan Abbott and Tana French. It's a tale that twists around the lies we tell ourselves and others, that examines the ugliness under the skin-deep glamor of L.A. 

Praise for Follow Her Home:

“[Song] is a compelling and original protagonist… One only hopes that Cha and her driven, neo-noir detective have more opportunities to explore those troubling intersections over many books to come.” –LA Times

“Cha’s debut updates Marlowe’s dark and dangerous LA to modern times while keeping the quirky characters and a twisty mystery that will hold readers to the bitter end.” –Kirkus

“Intriguing...it’s clear that Song, a chain-smoking, hard-drinking, and noir-ish young woman with a Raymond Chandler fixation is well on her way to being a first-rate investigator.” —Publishers Weekly

“For fans of urban noir and of mysteries that address contemporary social issues. Cha is a promising mystery author to watch.”–Library Journal

“Many try to emulate Raymond Chandler; few succeed.  Put Cha in the latter category…. [she] has that certain something that makes you want to follow Song on her next adventure.”–RT Book Reviews

Follow Her Home’s strength is in the creation of a relatable, dynamic, modern protagonist… Cha has penned a well-written, atmospheric text. But Follow Her Home is also a gritty tale that serves up social commentary on cultural fetishization.”–KorAM Magazine

“While Cha pays very clear homage to Chandler -- indicated in the enthusiastic use of similes and Juniper often wondering what Marlowe would do -- she definitely transcends his influence to make the story her own… Cha does a great job of keeping the suspense taut, with deft pacing and effective cliff-hangers. Action pushes the plot resolutely forward -- whether Juniper is getting knocked out in the middle of the night or finding her bed chillingly made by someone other than herself. And Juniper herself is a likeable character with a distinct voice.”–Hyphen Magazine

“Cha keeps you wanting to turn the pages with a need to know what is going on and cheering Song on to help work through the pain from her past. A well-written and very intriguing book.”–Suspense Magazine

“As the sleuth is a Chandler fan, readers will find many references to his work throughout the story, but the novel holds its own as we see the grittiness of L.A. and Koreatown, and the fetishization of Asian woman through June’s perspective.”–Mochi Magazine

Steph Cha is a graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School. She lives in her native city of Los Angeles, California. In her mysteries, Cha writes with a “unique perspective that an Asian American woman’s voice offers to this traditional genre, something that goes beyond its usual tropes” (Hyphen Magazine).

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JIM RULAND reads from FOREST OF FORTUNE

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on August 1st, 2014

Forest of Fortune (Tyrus Books)

Skylight Books is very excited to welcome Vermin on the Mount's very own, Jim Ruland!

Something’s not right at Thunderclap Casino…

While working the floor at the casino on the ultra-rural Yukemaya Indian Reservation, Alice is visited by a mysterious woman. Alice wants to believe her new epilepsy meds are causing her to hallucinate, but the apparition keeps coming back with terrifying information about the reservation’s secret history.

Pemberton, a hard-partying copywriter from L.A. who was kicked out of his apartment by his fiancé, is having a difficult time adjusting to life on the rez. His new boss at the casino has severe anger-management issues, his drinking is getting out of control, and he’s attracted the attention of a drug-addled biker.

Lupita is no stranger to casinos, but she’s never seen anything like this: a slot machine that compels people to keep playing until they’ve lost everything. Lupita’s been on been on bad runs before, but this machine is different. This one is evil.

As the three of them come to terms with the ways in which they are haunted by the past and struggle to turn their luck around, they must confront the malevolent force at Thunderclap that won’t rest until old wrongs have been made right.

Praise for Forest of Fortune

Forest of Fortune captures the soul and voice of hard-luck, hard-living Americans in a way that conjures up earlier masters like Raymond Carver and Richard Ford. Jim Ruland has an uncanny ability to get inside his characters – the small-time gamblers, washed up ad-men, and ladies of a certain age with a taste for one-armed bandits who people the casino at the center of the novel, the aptly named ‘Thunderclap.’ It’s been a long time since I’ve read an author with this much heart and talent. I really loved this book.”–Jerry Stahl, author of Happy Mutant Baby Pills andPermanent Midnight

“A little spooky, very funny, and thoroughly engrossing from start to finish. Ruland writes with real aplomb and takes no prisoners.”—Fiona Maazel, author of Woke Up Lonely

“Jim Ruland’s debut novel Forest of Fortune celebrates casino luck, mostly bad. A tour de force about a casino’s back rooms and environs, Forest of Fortune delivers on the seductive hardboiled territory of dread and despair. I’d bet plenty that you’ll like this.”—Terese Svoboda, author of Bohemian Girl

“Beguiling, nimble, and wonderfully weird, The Forest of Fortune is an out-of-left-field gem.”—Patrick deWitt, author of The Sisters Brothers

“American culture is now casino culture, as anyone with a mortgage or student loan or 401(k) knows all too well. Jim Ruland’s terrific novel gets to the heart of the matter, his characters struggling mightily to keep their heads above water, to find something better, something more, in all the wrong places. Smart, honest, darkly funny, Forest of Fortune is a powerful debut from a writer of real talent.”—Scott O’Connor, author of The Untouchable and Half World

Jim Ruland is a Navy veteran, former Indian casino employee, and author of the short story collection Big Lonesome. He is the host of Vermin on the Mount, an irreverent reading series based in Southern California. He is a columnist for the indie music zine Razorcake and writes "The Floating Library," a books column, for San Diego CityBeat. His work has been published in The Believer, Esquire, Hobart, Granta, Los Angeles Times, McSweeney’s, Oxford American and elsewhere. Ruland’s awards include a fellowship from the NEA and he was the winner of the 2012 Reader’s Digest Life Story Contest. In April 2014, Lyons Press will publish Giving the Finger, co-written with Scott Campbell, Jr. of Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch. He lives in San Diego with his wife, visual artist Nuvia Crisol Guerra.

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ANDREW MEREDITH reads from THE REMOVERS

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on August 1st, 2014

The Removers (Scribner)

Join us tonight for a moving memoir about how working with the dead breathed life back into a young man in Philadelphia, while also repairing the long-strained relationship he had with his father.

As a teenager, Andrew watched helplessly as his father went from proud literature professor to university outcast in the face of charges of sexual harassment. The allegations created a cavernous rift between father and son, particularly as Andrew begins to have sexual experiences himself. His late teens and early 20’s are a wayward existence studded with girls, beer, music, and, occasionally but never consistently, college. Andrew’s father, his pride decimated by the rejection of the university life that once invigorated the whole Meredith family, has had to find work as a “remover,” the name for the unseen, unsung men who take away the bodies of those who die at home. Shiftless and broke, Andrew becomes a remover alongside his father. At first, they share a low-grade shock about their circumstances: how did we wind up here? How do we get out? But together they also must tackle more practical questions—like how to carry a 500-pound corpse down winding stairs—and Andrew begins to learn that simple competence is the best way to navigate adulthood.

Eventually, Andrew begins to see his father not through the lens of a wronged and resentful child, but as a sympathetic, imperfect man who loves his family despite his flaws—and the chip on his shoulder starts to lose its weight. The Removers is dark, vulnerable, and deeply moving.

Praise for The Removers

“Andrew Meredith writes with the eye of a poet and the heart of a man transformed. The Removers brims with moments of unforgettable beauty and raw honesty.”—Michael Hainey, author of After Visiting Friends

“You might be forgiven, at first, if you believe that the book in your hands is about creatures from another planet (We are nobodies. We are men made to be forgotten. We are paid to be invisible.). Prepare yourself—as you wander more deeply into this brightly-lit, finely wrought nightmare, the mirrors start appearing. Sex and death might propel the story forward, but by the end Andrew Meredith peels back the night to reveal what we are made of. The removers are not only among us, they are us. A tour-de-force whispered from the shadows.”—Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

“The Removers is for anyone whose adolescence has taken too long, whose hands need useful work, or who wants to put his family grudges away and get on with the rewards of adult life—such as the wicked laughs and the sweet, tender, singing prose of this wonderful book.”—Salvatore Scibona, author of The End

“The Removers is angry and forgiving, sometimes hideous, tough, emotionally compelling, and important. Andrew Meredith comes of age, struggles, and survives in the disintegrating blue-collar environs of Philadelphia. This book can unlock doors. Get your hands on it right away.”—William Kittredge, author of Hole in the Sky

Andrew Meredith has been awarded fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and from Yaddo. He received an MFA in Fiction from UNC-Greensboro. The Removers is his first book.

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JÓN GNARR discusses GNARR: HOW I BECAME THE MAYOR OF A LARGE CITY IN ICELAND AND CHANGED THE WORLD

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on August 1st, 2014

Gnarr: How I Became the Mayor of a Large City in Iceland and Changed the World (Melville House)

Former Reykjavík mayor and longtime comedian Jón Gnarr will discuss and sign his memoir about his satirical campaign turned actual mayorship in Iceland's largest city.

In the epicenter of the world financial crisis, a comedian launched a joke campaign that didn't seem so funny to the country's leading politicians . . . 

It all started when Jón Gnarr founded the Best Party in 2009 to satirize his country's political system. The financial collapse in Iceland had, after all, precipitated the world-wide meltdown, and fomented widespread protest over the country's leadership. 

Entering the race for mayor of Reykjavik, Iceland's capital, Gnarr promised to get the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park into downtown parks, free towels at public swimming pools, a "drug-free Parliament by 2020" . . . and he swore he'd break all his campaign promises. 

But then something strange started happening: his campaign began to succeed. And in the party's electoral debut, the Best Party emerged as the biggest winner. Gnarr promptly proposed a coalition government, although he ruled out partners who had not seen all five seasons of The Wire. 

And just like that, a man whose previous foreign-relations experience consisted of a radio show (in which he regularly crank-called the White House and police stations in the Bronx to see if they had found his lost wallet) was soon meeting international leaders and being taken seriously as the mayor of a European capital. 

Here, Gnarr recounts how it all happened and, with admirable candor, describes his vision of a more enlightened politics for the future. The point, he writes, is not to be afraid to get involved--or to take on the system. 

Praise for Jón Gnarr:
"Certainly my favorite mayor.  No competition, in fact." —Noam Chomsky 

"Jón Gnarr has given the mayor profession a new human earnesty with radical stand-up style, and has chiseled away the stagnancy in that post with explosive humor." —Björk 

Jón Gnarr was born in 1967 in Reykjavík. He formed the Best Party in 2009 and became mayor of Reykjavík in 2010. He starred in the series The Night Shift, which aired on BBC 4 in 2011.

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WILL CHANCELLOR reads from A BRAVE MAN SEVEN STOREYS TALL

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on August 1st, 2014

A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall (Harper)

A triumphant literary debut with notes of both The Art of Fielding and The Flamethrowers, which introduces the striking figure of Owen Burr, a gifted Olympics-bound athlete whose dreams of greatness are deferred and then transformed by an unlikely journey from California to Berlin, Athens, Iceland, and back again.

Owen Burr, a towering athlete at Stanford University, son of renowned classicist Professor Joseph Burr, was destined to compete in the Athens Olympic Games of 2004. But in his final match at Stanford, he is blinded in one eye. The wound shatters his identity and any prospects he had as an athlete.

Determined to make a new name for himself, Owen flees the country and lands in Berlin, where he meets a group of wildly successful artists living in the Teutonic equivalent of Warhol's Factory. An irresistible sight--nearly seven-feet-tall, wearing an eye patch and a corduroy suit--Owen is quickly welcomed by the group's leader, who schemes to appropriate Owen's image and sell the results at Art Basel. With his warped and tortured image on the auction block, Owen seeks revenge.

Professor Burr has never been the father he wants to be. Owen's disappearance triggers a call to action. He dusts off his more speculative theory, Liminalism, to embark on a speaking tour, pushing theory to its radical extreme--at his own peril and with Jean Baudrillard's help--in order to send up flares for his son in Athens, Berlin, and Iceland.

A compulsively readable novel of ideas, action, and intrigue, A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall offers a persuasive vision of personal agency, art, family, and the narratives we build for ourselves.

Praise for A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall

 "Wry, smart, tender, huge-hearted, Will Chancellor strides onto the page in the spirit of Bellow with writing poised like poetry. A dauntless debut."--Paul Lynch

"Owen Burr is a character unlike any you're likely to meet in contemporary literature. Watching him move through the world, and negotiate with his own dreams, is both powerful and revelatory."--Daniel Alarcon

"A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall is an erudite, ambitious, and entertaining work wherein postmodern gods and monsters alike flit into the lives of father and son during the Bush administration of the the early aughts.  The book's academic scenes occasionally give the reader a tongue-in-cheek wink reminiscent of DeLillo's White Noise, while the ex-pat atmosphere possesses the same variety of political tension that fueled recent hits such as The Flamethrowers.  In short, Chancellor belongs to that rare camp of young writers who successfully blend a sense of high-minded intellectualism into a darn good story."--Suzanne Rindell

Will Chancellor grew up in Hawaii and in Texas. He made it to the finals of the high school National debate championship at age 15 and was a nationally ranked golfer. At Stanford, Chancellor studied political theory and environmental policy, and after graduation lived in Paris and Prague before ending up at UT Austin for post-grad work in Physics and Ancient Greek.  All along he knew he wanted to write books and eventually ended up in his mother’s childhood home, in the bustling metropolis of Pittsburg, TX,  with just a manual typewriter to keep him company.

During the eight months that he spent there writing, Chancellor interacted with other people just three times and ate pasta at every meal. But if you’re picturing a reclusive, wild eyed, long haired madman (I sure was when he told me this story), think again. Chancellor was fastidious about his appearance, often wearing a dress shirt and tie while he feverishly typed away on one 300ft roll of vellum tracing paper. And this is all before he moved to New York and lived in the Chelsea Hotel. During his three years in the storied hotel, he paid his $800/month rent with a credit card and fell into the cliché of starving artist.

To research the book beyond the first draft, Chancellor collaborated on a large-scale sculpture for the New Museum, impersonated a world-renowned painter at Art Basel, and completed a solo traverse of Iceland from the westernmost to easternmost tip. 

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WE DROPPED A BOMB ON YOU: A BEST OF SLAKE READING featuring JOHN ALBERT, JONATHAN GOLD and LAUREN WEEDMAN

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on August 1st, 2014

We Dropped A Bomb On You: A City and Its Stories: Los Angeles: The Best of Slake I-IV (Rare Bird Books)

Cofounded by former LA Weekly editor Joe Donnelly and current Los Angeles Times Arts and Entertainment editorLaurie OchoaSlake is a literary journal that sets a new template for the next generation of print publications -- collectible, not disposable; destined for the bedside table instead of the recycling bin. It's a whole new way of looking at Los Angeles and the world.

We Dropped a Bomb on You is a devastating compendium of essays, fiction, and photo essays from the first four issues of Slake. Featuring previously unpublished work by Aimee Bender, Mark Z. Danielewski, Dana Goodyear, Jerry Stahl, John Albert, Jonathan GoldLauren Weedman and many many more, this collection marks a return to storytelling with polished essay, memoir, fiction, poetry, and profile writing that is disappearing in a world of instant takes and unfiltered opinion.

John Albert cofounded the semilegendary cross-dressing band Christian Death and also enjoyed a stint as the drummer in Bad Religion. He lives in Los Angeles and has contributed to LA Weekly, Hustler, and BlackBook, among others. He won the Best of the West Journalism Best Sports Writing Award in 2000, for the LA Weekly article from which Wrecking Crew derived. 

Jonathan Gold is a food critic who currently writes for the Los Angeles Times and has previously written for LA Weekly and Gourmet. In 2007 he became the first food critic to win the Pulitzer Prize. He is also a regular on KCRW's Good Food radio program.

Lauren Weedman made her television debut on Comedy Central’s Emmy Award-winning THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART as a featured Correspondent.  It was at that same time that Lauren was a regular on NPR’s national, political satire show, REWIND and appeared in her solo show, HOMECOMING, Off-Broadway at the Westside Theatre. The New York Times said of Lauren and HOMECOMING, “Like Bob Newhart in his early stand-up routines, she’s particularly good at making her points – and making us feel clever.  Most important, she’s just plain funny, physically and verbally.”

Lauren has contributed short stories to Slake magazine, Swivel and her short story “Diary of a Journal reader” was included in Dave Eggars “Best of Non Required Reading 2007”.  Sasquatch Books released her first book, a collection of comedic essays, A WOMAN TRAPPED IN A WOMAN’S BODY (TALES FROM A LIFE OF CRINGE) which the Kirkus Review identified as one of the Top Ten Indy Books of 2007. Lauren currently lives and performs in Los Angeles.

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WILLIAM T. VOLLMANN reads from LAST STORIES AND OTHER STORIES

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on August 1st, 2014

Last Stories and Other Stories (Viking Books)

In this magnificent new work of fiction, his first in nine years, celebrated author William T. Vollmann offers a collection of ghost stories linked by themes of love, death, and the erotic.

NOTE: We're expecting a big crowd for this event.  As always, our events are free and open to the public, but we will be issuing numbered singing line tickets to keep the line organized (the number is your place in line).  To get a ticket to go through the signing line, you must purchase a copy of Last Stories and Other Stories here at Skylight Books.  Tickets will become available on the day the book is released -- July 10.  You can purchase the book and get a ticket in our store, over the phone (at 323-660-1175), or on our website (just leave a note in the "order comments" field that you'd like a ticket).  Members in our Friends with Benefits program get 20% off the event book and a ticket to the priority signing line, so sign up or mention your membership when you buy.

A Bohemian farmer's dead wife returns to him, and their love endures, but at a gruesome price. A geisha prolongs her life by turning into a cherry tree. A journalist, haunted by the half-forgotten killing of a Bosnian couple, watches their story, and his own wartime tragedy, slip away from him. A dying American romances the ghost of his high school sweetheart while a homeless salaryman in Tokyo animates paper cutouts of ancient heroes.

Are ghosts memories, fantasies, or monsters? Is there life in death? Vollmann has always operated in the shadowy borderland between categories, and these eerie tales, however far-flung their settings, all focus on the attempts of the living to avoid, control, or even seduce death. Vollmann's stories will transport readers to a fantastical world where love and lust make anything possible.

Praise for Last Stories and Other Stories

"Vollmann's fiction has always defied easy categorization. Here, he straddles, twists, and morphs action-adventure, horror, political thriller, fantasy, and literary fiction. What gives the book coherence is his singular style: elaborate and picaresque, with a rich vocabulary. . .Mainstays of horror and the supernatural figure prominently, and it's especially exciting to read these pop-fiction conventions treated with Vollmann's narrative richness."--Publishers Weekly

"Creatively sourced, boldly imagined, and incandescently written supernatural stories. . . Throughout this ingeniously fabulist, erotic, musing, and satirical treasury, Vollmann gives monstrous and alluring form to the forces that haunt us, from desire and love to regret and loss, as he contemplates with ardor, sorrow, bemusement, and wonder the beauty and terror of life and death and the vast mystery of the hereafter."--ALA Booklist

William T. Vollmann is the author of seven novels, three collections of stories, and a seven-volume critique of violence, Rising Up and Rising Down. He is also the author of Poor People, a worldwide examination of poverty through the eyes of the impoverished themselves; Riding Toward Everywhere, an examination of the train-hopping hobo lifestyle; and Imperial, a panoramic look at one of the poorest areas in America. He has won the PEN Center USA West Award for Fiction, a Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize and a Whiting Writers' Award. His journalism and fiction have been published in The New Yorker, Esquire, Spin and Granta. Vollmann lives in Sacramento, California.

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RICOCHET BOOKS LAUNCH PARTY!

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on July 25th, 2014

Nigerians in Space by Deji Olukotun Good Night, Mr. Kissinger by K. Anis Ahmed

Started by Skylight's own Chris Heiser, Ricochet publishes literature, comics and lost classics from around the world.  It also distributes books with publishing partners like sister nonprofit phoneme Media. 

Get exclusive preview copies of Ricochet's first two books, Nigerians in Space by Deji Olukotunand Good Night, Mr. Kissinger by K. Anis Ahmed. Both titles are available together as a Ricochet Launch Special, which will give you Ricochet's debut books at a discount.

About Nigerians in Space

1993. Houston. Dr. Wale Olufunmi, lunar rock geologist, has a life most Nigerian immigrants would kill for, but then most Nigerians aren’t Wale—a great scientific mind in exile with galactic ambitions. Then comes an outlandish order: steal a piece of the moon. With both personal and national glory at stake, Wale manages to pull off the near impossible, setting out on a journey back to Nigeria that leads anywhere but home. Compelled by Wale’s impulsive act, Nigerians traces arcs in time and space from Houston to Stockholm, from Cape Town to Bulawayo, picking up on the intersecting lives of a South African abalone smuggler, a freedom fighter’s young daughter, and Wale’s own ambitious son. Deji Olukotun’s debut novel defies categorization—a story of international intrigue that tackles deeper questions about exile, identity, and the need to answer an elusive question: what exactly is brain gain?

About Good Night, Mr. Kissinger

Good Night, Mr. Kissinger opens in 1970, in the days before war, when an unfinished suburban house is suddenly occupied by the family of an untouchable and disarming girl. Her brief appearance in her young neighbor’s life overshadows (at least for a time) the tanks that soon roll onto their idyllic street.  Kissinger ends in present day Dhaka, with the construction magnate Shabhaz ruminating about his dysfunctional family on the forty-first floor of the highest tower of the city—one which he himself built. 

Ahmed plunges into this anarchic, overwhelming place, plucking individuals from the masses to tell stories of love and ambition, family secrets and exile.  There are the brothers Bahram and Jamshed, whose father dresses them in similar clothes to avoid sibling rivalry.  And Ramkamal, author of the greatest novel never written, whose disappearance leaves behind a group of disjointed followers trying to make sense of their lives.  And there is James D’Costa, the exiled Bangladeshi waiter with an unlikely name, whose encounters with Henry Kissinger force a tense confrontation between past and future. 

About RICOCHET BOOKS

Based in Los Angeles, Ricochet’s stories are anywhere but—set in South Africa, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Estonia and Istanbul. The translated poetry from our sister nonprofit Phoneme Media includes masterful translations from the Spanish, Portuguese, Uyghur and Arabic, as well as the experimental novellas of notorious Mexican writer Mario Bellatin.  

No matter where our stories are set, Ricochet’s mission is simple: to help introduce new voices and perspectives that broaden our view of the world and the people that live in it, rather than confirm what is already familiar and safe. Hopefully, our stories will surprise you in some way.    

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PEN CENTER USA presents EMERGING VOICES MEET AND GREET

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on July 25th, 2014

PEN Center USA will present an informational evening with current and former Emerging Voices Fellows and mentors for the benefit of interested applicants. Join us for a fellowship overview, a Q&A session, special summer cocktails, and readings by Amanda Fletcher, Natashia Déon, Jamie Schaffner, the 2014 Emerging Voices Fellows, and Samantha Dunn!

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REBECCA RASMUSSEN reads from EVERGREEN

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on July 25th, 2014

Evergreen (Knopf)

From the celebrated author of The Bird Sisters, a gorgeously rendered and emotionally charged novel that spans generations, telling the story of two siblings, raised apart, attempting to share a life.

It is 1938 when Eveline, a young bride, follows her husband into the wilderness of Minnesota. Though their cabin is rundown, they have a river full of fish, a garden out back, and a new baby boy named Hux. But when Emil leaves to take care of his sick father, the unthinkable happens: a stranger arrives, and Eveline becomes pregnant. She gives the child away, and while Hux grows up hunting and fishing in the woods with his parents, his sister, Naamah, is raised an orphan.

Years later, haunted by the knowledge of this forsaken girl, Hux decides to find his sister and bring her home to the cabin. But Naamah, even wilder than the wilderness that surrounds them, may make it impossible for Hux to ever tame her, to ever make up for all that she, and they, have lost. Set before a backdrop of vanishing forest, this is a luminous novel of love, regret, and hope.

Praise for Evergreen

"Rasmussen has been steadily crafting a unique brand of Midwestern literature that combines offbeat characters and timeless rhythms reminiscent of folk tales with touching story lines about the pain and hard-won joys of real life. . . She shows her strong affection for the picturesque rural setting of yesteryear . . . In this character-driven saga of friendship and the thorny bonds of family, Rasmussen writes with wisdom and compassion about the people and places that shape us, for better or worse."--Sarah Johnson, Booklist

"Evergreen has the power of fable and the wonderful, idiosyncratic precision of memoir. A deeply moving novel of mothers and daughters -- and mothers and sons -- and the ties that bind."--Chris Bohjalian, author of The Sandcastle Girls and Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands

"Evergreen is a gem of a novel. The story unfolds with the potency and certainty of fable and explores, with exquisite grace, the redemptive power of love."--Tara Conklin, New York Times bestselling author of The House Girl

"In luminous, evocative prose, Rebecca Rasmussen weaves a large-hearted story of resilience, hope and forgiveness deep in the wilds of Minnesota. Evergreen traces the gifts and burdens each generation passes on to the next, intentionally or not, and the flinty beauty that can be found in even the most hardscrabble circumstances."--Christina Baker Kline, bestselling author of Orphan Train

"Evergreen reads like a brilliant collaboration between a novelist and a naturalist. Rebecca Rasmussen's stunning eye for detail is perfectly matched by her understanding of how lives turn in an instant, decisions shape distant generations, and sometimes, if we're fortunate, loyalties survive to save us against all odds. Steadily beautiful, occasionally brutal, Evergreen is always vivid, always compelling, always ringing with truth."--Robin Black, author of If I Loved You I Would Tell You This

Rebecca Rasmussen is the author of the novel The Bird Sisters. Her stories have appeared in or won prizes from TriQuarterly, Narrative Magazine, Glimmer Train, The Mid-American Review, among other journals. She was born and raised in the Midwest. Currently, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter and teaches English part-time at UCLA.

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SCOTT CHESHIRE reads from HIGH AS THE HORSE’S BRIDLES

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on July 25th, 2014

High As the Horse's Bridles (Henry Holt)

Join us this evening for an urgent, electric debut novel about inheritance, belief, and a father and son divided by a dangerous prophecy.

It's 1980 at a crowded amphitheater in Queens, New York and a nervous Josiah Laudermilk, age 12, is about to step to the stage while thousands of believers wait to hear him, the boy preaching prodigy, pour forth. Suddenly, as if a switch had been flipped, Josiah's nerves shake away and his words come rushing out, his whole body fills to the brim with the certainty of a strange apocalyptic vision. But is it true prophecy or just a young believer's imagination running wild?

Decades later when Josiah (now Josie) is grown and has long since left the church, he returns to Queens to care for his father who, day by day, is losing his grip on reality. Barreling through the old neighborhood, memories of the past--of his childhood friend Issy, of his first love, of the mother he has yet to properly mourn--overwhelm him at every turn. When he arrives at his family's old house, he's completely unprepared for what he finds. How far back must one man journey to heal a broken bond between father and son?

In rhapsodic language steeped in the oral tradition of American evangelism, Scott Cheshire brings us under his spell. Remarkable in scale--moving from 1980 Queens, to sunny present-day California, to a tent revival in nineteenth century rural Kentucky--and shot-through with the power and danger of belief and the love that binds generations, High as the Horses' Bridles is a bold, heartbreaking debut from a big new American voice.

Praise for High As the Horses' Bridles

“An unflinching exploration of American apocalyptic yearning. So many things at once, High as the Horses' Bridles is the heartbreaking story of a family, of a marriage, of the undying affection between a father and his son, and the redemptive power of love. It also happens to be a deep look at one of the more unsettling aspects of our national character—religion as desire. This is a rare and beautiful debut that will have readers thinking of Aleksandar Hemon, of E.L Doctorow, of Don DeLillo.” ―Colum Mccann

“From its opening tour de force to its equally extraordinary conclusion, Scott Cheshire’s debut is searing and fierce. His protagonist, Josiah Laudermilk, provides a rare bridge from our familiar every day to the strange, rich territory of Evangelical Christianity – and back again. Josiah’s – and Cheshire’s – brilliant evocations make the whole world new. This novel is truly memorable.” ―Claire Messud

“High As the Horses’ Bridles is a great new American epic, one that spans two hundred years, and takes us cross-country from the streets of New York City, to the beaches of Southern California, to the bluegrass hills of Old Kentucky. Cheshire tackles the biggest questions of all, God, love, and death, and he does it with such style and raw psychological insight. Nothing less than Dostoyevskian.” ―Philipp Meyer

“Scott Chesire has made the insane choice to write with nuance and intelligence about religion.High As The Horses' Bridles refuses to dismiss or lampoon the kind of people who are usually just fodder for comedy. Because of this, his debut novel is tender and enlightening, riveting and raw. The man can write but, just as importantly, he keeps his eye on the humane just as surely as the divine.” ―Victor Lavalle

“The prophets of High as the Horses’ Bridles live struggling in anticipation of the Apocalypse they think they want and struggling in denial of the one they already have. In a three-book bible, written to profound and devastating purpose, Scott Cheshire counts the cost in love of inviting the end of the world.” ―Chris Adrian

In High as the Horses' BridlesScott Cheshire explores with poignancy the lasting generational impact of both faith and fanaticism.” ―Said Sayrafiezadeh  

High as Horses' Bridles is a book of revelation, in every sense suffused with biblical allusion. It reveals the hidden histories that shape our lives.” ―Peter Manseau

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JOSH WEIL reads from THE GREAT GLASS SEA and MIKE HARVKEY reads from IN THE COURSE OF HUMAN EVENTS

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on July 25th, 2014

 The Great Glass Sea (Grove Press)   In The Course of Human Events (Soft Skull Press)

Join us for a captivating reading from two dynamic writers of fiction.

Josh Weil’s critically acclaimed 2009 novella collection The New Valley was the winner of the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction, a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” selection, and a New York Times Editor’s Choice. He follows this success with his debut novel, The Great Glass Sea, an epic, dystopian tale inspired by the true story of Agrikombinat Moskovsky, an area on the outskirts of Moscow that was transformed into a 24 hour greenhouse. Set in an alternate present, Weil spins a tale of brotherly love steeped in Russian folklore that will appeal to fans of Cormac McCarthy's The Road and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, beautifully illustrated throughout with Weil’s own line drawings.

In this thrilling debut novel - equal parts satire and morality play - Mike Harvkey shines a sharp light on the dark and radical underbelly of the floundering American Midwest. As he leads us down the violent spiral of a desperate youth, he explores with unflinching acuity the ugly nature of hate, the untempered force of personality, and the sometimes horrific power of having someone believe in you.

Praise for Josh Weil

"Weil meticulously imagines people and their histories, and presents them as a product of their places. This is perhaps the hardest thing for a fiction writer of any age, working in any form, to accomplish.."--Anthony Doerr, New York Times Book Review

"[Weil] gives voice to those without, to those entombed on forgotten hillsides, to those orphaned and tending calves and tractors, reminding us that no matter how isolated, how lonely, tender hearts burn everywhere, they burn bright, and they burn on."--Don Waters, The Believer 

Praise for Mike Harvkey

"With this stunning debut, a major new talent bursts upon the world of American Letters. In the Course of Human Events is as brave as it is brilliant, as unsettling as it is important, and unlike anything else I've read. Mike Harvkey writes scenes of uncommon imagination, characters that leap to life at a single stroke. They will grab you in a bear hug, or by the throat (and sometimes both), and carry you along through a story every bit as gripping. A fearless exploration of an uncomfortable corner of the human heart--and an America little examined and even less understood--this is an important novel. Add to that the fact that it's also so damn funny and here comes one hell of a book." - Josh Weil, author of "The New Valley"

"In the Course of Human Events is a dark, and yet compassionate gaze into the frustrated, violent, and broken heart of America. Mike Harvkey has written a gripping, bold and daring novel unlike any I've had the pleasure of reading before."--Dinaw Mengestu, MacArthur Genius Fellow and author of "How to Read the Air" and "The Wonderful Things that Heaven Bears"

Josh Weil is the author of the The Great Glass Sea (Grove, 2014) and The New Valley (Grove, 2009), a New York Times Editors Choice that won the Sue Kaufman Prize from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, the New Writers Award from the GLCA, and a “5 Under 35” Award from the National Book Foundation. Weil’s other writing has appeared in Granta, Esquire, One Story, The Sun, and The New York Times. A recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, MacDowell, Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, he has been Distinguished Visiting Writer at Bowling Green State University and Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi. He lives in the northern the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Mike Harvkey grew up in rural northwest Missouri, near the city of Independence, a crystal meth stronghold long before Breaking Bad. When he moved to New York in 2001 to attend Columbia’s Creative Writing MFA Program as a Bingham Fellow, he began training Kyokushin, a brutal form of martial art known for bare-knuckle fighting, and was promoted to black belt in 2006. One of his short stories won Zoetrope All-Story Magazine’s short fiction contest; others have been published in Mississippi Review and Alaska Quarterly Review.

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TODD GLASS reads from THE TODD GLASS SITUATION

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on July 18th, 2014

The Todd Glass Situation (Simon & Schuster)

A hilarious, poignant memoir from comedian Todd Glass about his decision at age forty-eight to finally live openly as a gay man--and the reactions and support from his comedy pals, from Louis CK to Sarah Silverman.

Growing up in a Philadelphia suburb in the 1970s was an easy life. Well, easy as long as you didn't have dyslexia or ADD, or were a Jew. And once you added gay into the mix, life became more difficult. So Todd Glass decided to hide the gay part, no matter how comic, tragic, or comically tragic the results.

It might have been a lot easier had he chosen a profession other than stand-up comedy. By age eighteen, Todd was opening for big musical acts like George Jones and Patti LaBelle. His career carried him through the Los Angeles comedy heyday in the 1980s, its decline in the 1990s, and its rebirth via the alternative comedy scene and the explosion in podcasting. But the harder he worked at his craft, the more difficult it became to manage his "situation." There were the years of abstinence and half-hearted attempts to "cure" himself. The fake girlfriends so that he could tell relationship jokes onstage. The staged sexual encounters to burnish his reputation offstage. It took a brush with death to cause him to rethink the way he was living his life; a rash of suicides among gay teens to convince him that it was finally time to come out to the world.

Now, Todd has written an open, honest, and hilarious memoir in an effort to help everyone--young and old, gay and straight--breathe a little more freely. Peppered with anecdotes from his life among comedy's greatest headliners and tales of the occasionally insane lengths Todd went through to keep a secret that--let's face it--he probably didn't have to keep for as long as he did, The Todd Glass Situation is a front-row seat to the last thirty plus years of comedy history and a deeply personal story about one man's search for acceptance.

Praise for The Todd Glass Situation

“Todd Glass is one of my all-time favorite comedians.But he is not just a brilliant comedian, he is also a terrible friend.”— Sarah Silverman

“Todd Glass is not only the funniest person I know, he might be the funnest. This book is like Todd: fun, engaging and honest. And having ghost written so many classic books (War & Peace, Elmo Goes Shopping, The Celestine Prophecy, The Notebook) it is nice to see Todd finally put his name on one! Also: Todd Glass is much funnier than his brother Ira.”— Jim Gaffigan

“Todd is a human hurricane and comedic force of nature. And now that hurricane has written a book. HOW DID HE TYPE WITH HIS WIND-FINGERS?”— Patton Oswalt

“There are comics and then there are comic’s comics. Todd Glass is the rare comic’s comic’s comic. Which means six people find him funny.”— Norm Macdonald

Todd Glass is a stand-up comedian who has performed on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Chelsea Lately, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and The Jimmy Kimmel Show, among many other programs. He’s also the host of The Todd Glass Show, a popular podcast on the Nerdist Network. Visit www.ToddGlass.com and follow Todd on Twitter at @toddglass.

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EDAN LEPUCKI reads from CALIFORNIA: A NOVEL

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on July 18th, 2014

California (Little Brown and Company)

A former Skylight staffer comes home to read from her much anticipated debut novel! You might recognize this book is you're a regular viewer of The Colbert Report -- this is the novel Sherman Alexie and Stephen Colbert recommended on the June 3 show! (You can pre-order it from us, too. Just click the Add to Cart button below.)

The world Cal and Frida have always known is gone, and they've left the crumbling city of Los Angeles far behind them. They now live in a shack in the wilderness, working side-by-side to make their days tolerable in the face of hardship and isolation. Mourning a past they can't reclaim, they seek solace in each other. But the tentative existence they've built for themselves is thrown into doubt when Frida finds out she's pregnant. 

Terrified of the unknown and unsure of their ability to raise a child alone, Cal and Frida set out for the nearest settlement, a guarded and paranoid community with dark secrets. These people can offer them security, but Cal and Frida soon realize this community poses dangers of its own. In this unfamiliar world, where everything and everyone can be perceived as a threat, the couple must quickly decide whom to trust. 

A gripping and provocative debut novel by a stunning new talent, California imagines a frighteningly realistic near future, in which clashes between mankind's dark nature and deep-seated resilience force us to question how far we will go to protect the ones we love.

Praise for California

“In her arresting debut novel, Edan Lepucki conjures a lush, intricate, deeply disturbing vision of the future, then masterfully exploits its dramatic possibilities.” —Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize winner

“An expansive, full-bodied and masterful narrative of humans caught in the most extreme situations, with all of our virtues and failings on full display: courage, cowardice, trust, betrayal, honor and expedience. The final eighty pages of this book gripped me as much as any fictional denouement I’ve encountered in recent years....I firmly believe that Edan Lepucki is on the cusp of a long, strong career in American letters.”—Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

“Edan Lepucki is the very best kind of writer: simultaneously generous and precise. I have long been an admirer of her prose, but this book—this book, this massive, brilliant book—is a four-alarm fire, the ambitious and rich introduction that a writer of her caliber deserves. I can’t wait for the world to know what I have known for so many years, that Edan Lepucki is the real thing, and that we will all be bowing at her feet before long.” —Emma Straub, author of Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures

“A stunning and brilliant novel, which is a wholly original take on the post-apocalypse genre, an end-of-the-world we’ve never seen before and yet is uncomfortably believable and recognizable. By turns funny and heartbreaking, scary and tender, beautifully written and compulsively page-turning, this is a book that will haunt me, and that I’ll be thankful to return to in the years to come. It left me speechless. Read it, and prepare yourself.” —Dan Chaon, author of Await Your Reply

“It’s tempting to call this novel post-apocalyptic, but really, it’s about an apocalypse in progress, an apocalypse that might already be happening, one that doesn’t so much break life into before and after as unravel it bit by bit. Edan Lepucki tells her tale with preternatural clarity and total believability, in large part by focusing on the relationships—between husband and wife, brother and sister, parent and child—that are, it turns out, apocalypse-proof. Post-nothing. California is timeless.”—Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Edan Lepucki is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a staff writer for The Millions. Her short fiction has been published in McSweeney’s and Narrative magazine, and she is the founder and director of Writing Workshops Los Angeles. 

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