JOHN HAMPSEY reads from his memoir KAUFMAN’S HILL

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on February 22nd, 2015

Kaufman's Hill (Bancroft Press)

A profound and intensely moving boyhood memoir, Kaufman's Hill opens with a prosaic neighborhood scene: The author and some other young boys are playing by the creek, one of their usual stomping grounds. But it soon becomes clear that much more is going on; the boy-narrator is struggling to find his way in a middle-class Catholic neighborhood dominated by the Creely bullies, who often terrify him. It's the Pittsburgh of the early and mid-1960s, a threshold time just before the counter-culture arrives, and a time when suburban society begins to encroach on Kaufman's Hill, the boy's sanctuary and the setting of many of his adventures. As the hill and the 1950s vanish into the twilight, so does the world of the narrator's boyhood.

Praise for Kaufman's Hill

"Kaufman's Hill is among the most touching, sensitive, and spellbinding memoirs I've encountered in many years. Beautifully and exactly written, this book will surely reach into the hearts of its readers. I was deeply moved."--Tim O'Brien, author of The Things They Carried

“[Kaufman's Hill is] the best book on American boyhood in decades.”--Howard Zinn, author of People's History of the United States

"Kaufman's Hill is a vivid and unforgettable coming-of-age tale of boys and bullies on the edge of post-industrial America. Hampsey's haunting, lyrical world thrums with the dark, erratic rhythms that lie below the surface of our seemingly ordinary childhoods. He makes me remember mine differently, somehow." -- Ruth Ozeki, author of A Tale for the Time Being

"Hampsey has written a gem of a memoir. As powerful, poignant, funny and deeply moving as anything I've read since Russell Baker's masterpiece, Growing Up. Someone should make a movie of this."--Mark Mathabane, author of Kaffir Boy

John C. Hampsey is professor of Romantic and Classical Literature at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where he has won the University Distinguished Teaching Award. Previously, he taught at Boston University and MIT. He received his BA from Holy Cross College and his PhD from Boston College. He is currently working on a novel—Soda Lake, an existential mystery mixed with interconnected imaginary portraits. During his career, Hampsey has had more than thirty stories and essays published in such places as The Gettysburg Review (four times), The Midwest Quarterly, Antioch Review, The Alaska Quarterly, The Boston Globe, Arizona Quarterly, European Romantic Review, Witness, Colby Quarterly, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and McNeese Review, among many others. His previous book Paranoia and Contentment: A Personal Essay on Western Thought was published by University of Virgina Press in 2005.

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USC MPW students read from their work

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on February 22nd, 2015

Please join us this afternoon as students in the University of Southern California's Master of Professional Writing program read from their work. Readers include Autumn McAlpin, Stephanie Abraham, Brianna J.L. Smyk, Annalouise Carter, and Mellinda Hensley. They will be joined by faculty member Dinah Lenney.

Hailing from Memphis, TN, Autumn McAlpin is now a writer, director, and producer working in LA as she completes her MPW degree at USC. Autumn has worked as a freelance columnist for The Orange County Register for nine years, and she is the author of Real World 101: A Survival Guide to Life After High School, Amazon's top-selling graduation gift book in 2011 and 2012An award-winning filmmaker, Autumn is the writer and producer of the upcoming feature film Waffle Street, starring James Lafferty, Danny Glover, and Julie Gonzalo. She has two other features in development.
 
Stephanie Abraham is an essayist, media critic, blogger and business writerHer writings have appeared in BitchRole Reboot and Mizna. She is currently working on her first memoir. Visit her at StephanieAbraham.com.
 
Brianna J.L. Smyk is the nonfiction editor of the Southern California Review and a student in USC’s Master of Professional Writing program. A fiction and nonfiction writer, Brianna holds a master's in art history and was the lead arts writer for NolaVie in New Orleans. 

AnnaLouise Carter is a prose and poetry writer living in South Los Angeles. Originally from Oregon, she graduated with a degree in English from Stanford University, and has also studied at Oxford and the University of Salamanca. She has been published in xoJane and Christianity Today, and shares a home with her husband, two housemates, and an overweight black cat.

Mellinda Hensley is a fiction writer at MPW and the Editor-in-Chief of the Southern California Review. She earned her Bachelor's Degree in Writing and Journalism at the University of Evansville in Indiana, and has been published in The Boiler JournalLA Magazine, the Review ReviewThe Ohio River Review, and also currently contributes to the blog Smash Cut Culture.

Dinah Lenney is the author of a collection of essays, The Object Parade (Counterpoint Press), and Bigger Than Life: A Murder, a Memoir, published as part of the American Lives series at the University of Nebraska Press. Her essays and reviews have appeared in a wide range of publications and anthologies including The New York TimesThe Los Angeles TimesAGNICreative Nonfiction, the Kenyon ReviewPloughsharesTriQuarterly, and Brevity.com. Dinah is the senior nonfiction editor for the Los Angeles Review of Books and serves as core faculty for the Bennington Writing Seminars, the Rainier Writing Workshop, and in the Master of Professional Writing program at the University of Southern California. www.dinahlenney.com (@dinahlenney on Twitter).

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TAYLOR YATES presents SELFISH, together with BECKY MAY, CHRISTINA WOLFGRAM, KELSEY NOLAN, ALYS VELAZQUEZ and JENNA ARAK

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on February 22nd, 2015

SELFISH is a cheeky memoir anthology, published biannually, that explores the notion of what our world would be like if women were encouraged to be selfish. Set to debut at the 2015 LA Art Book Fair, the first issue is a collection of 18 female authors and photographers showcasing their experiences. 

The very essence of the word "selfish" bears a negative connotation. For generations, women have silenced this urge in order to accommodate others. We want to take this culturally ingrained behavior and turn it on its head.

More than that, we encourage women to take pleasure in their expressions – to indulge in their art without obsessive concern for the reactions of others. SELFISH encourages creativity without consequences.

Taylor Yates is the editor-in-chief of SELFISH as well as development director of DUM DUM Zine. She began assembling the bits and pieces for the project over the summer of 2014, in the midst of promoting DUM DUM's fourth issue. With the help of her incredible friends and the contributions of talented female artists, Taylor has assembled the first of many issues to come in the hopes of cultivating a supportive creative community for women. For more, check out girlsgetselfish.com

Becky May is an editorial assistant for a trade publication in Los Angeles. She also freelances for Guerrero Howe writing profiles for C-level executives. Becky earned her BA in journalism from the University of Missouri – Columbia. Despite her lack of photography skills she enjoys taking pictures. Like the saying goes, “pics or it didn’t happen.” 

Christina Wolfgram likes cuddling her Master’s degree in professional writing from USC. She recently worked with Los Angeles Magazine to launch their first ever car culture blog, L.A. Driver. Her work can be found on The Hairpin, xoJane, BuzzFeed, Refinery29, FunnyorDie, YouTube, and—once—in one of Russell Crowe’s tweets.

Kelsey Nolan lives and writes in Los Angeles. She received her Master’s in Professional Writing from USC and writes for various trade publications as well as Brit + Co. Her favorite things include burritos, bottom shelf wine, audiobooks and tiny things.

Alys Velazquez is a Brooklyn-based writer focusing on poetry and short prose. She aims to create brutal yet tender work dripping with drugs, sex, shame and dark humor. She spends much of her time on both sides of the bar, haunting used bookstores and photographing her breakfast.

Jenna Arak is a writer, editor, and denizen of any bookstore's self-help section. Her writing has been featured on Salon, Thought Catalog, The Everygirl, The Muse, and more. She is also the editor of Career Contessa's CC Daily blog. She lives and writes in Pasadena.




NICOLE MAGGI reads from her young adult novel THE FORGETTING

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on February 22nd, 2015

The Forgetting (Sourcebooks Fire)

Georgie's new heart saved her life...but now she's losing her mind.

When Georgie Kendrick wakes up after a heart transplant she feels...different. The organ beating in her chest isn't in tune with the rest of her body. Like it still belongs to someone else. Someone with terrible memories...memories that are slowly replacing her own. Georgie discovers her heart belonged to a teenage girl who lived a rough life on the streets. Everyone thinks she committed suicide, but only Georgie knows the truth. And now Georgie has to catch a killer--before she loses herself completely. Fans of Lisa McMann and April Hentry will devour this edgy, gripping thriller with a twist readers won't see coming!

Praise for The Forgetting

"An eerie mystery wrapped in a heart-wrenching romance, this breathless thriller will leave you wanting more from Maggi!" - Gretchen McNeil, author of TEN and the Don't Get Mad series

“From the tender moments to the thrilling climax, this one will keep your heart racing.” - Natalie D. Richards, author of Six Months Later

Nicole Maggi was born in the suburbs of upstate New York, and began writing poems about unicorns and rainbows at a very early age. She detoured into acting, earned a BFA from Emerson College, and moved to NYC where she performed in lots of off-off-off-Broadway Shakespeare. After a decade of schlepping groceries on the subway, she and her husband hightailed it to sunny Los Angeles, where they now reside, surrounded by fruit trees, with their daughter and two oddball cats.

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SARAH GERARD reads from her debut novel BINARY STAR

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on February 22nd, 2015

Binary Star (Two Dollar Radio)

Join us tonight at Skylight Books for the brilliant debut from a rising "star" (couldn't help it)  of fiction, Sarah Gerard!

The language of the stars is the language of the body. Like a star, the anorexic burns fuel that isn’t replenished; she is held together by her own gravity. With luminous, lyrical prose, Sarah Gerard’s debut novel Binary Star is an impassioned account of a young woman struggling with anorexia and her long-distance, alcoholic boyfriend, John. On a road trip around the United States, they stumble into a book on veganarchism and believe they’ve found a direction.

Though she has misgivings about their newfound ideology, the narrator’s involvement becomes critical to the couple’s plan to “take down the sick system.” Trapped in a self-destructive constellation of lies and self-defining, superficial obsessions, she forces herself to complete the semester while preparing the political “action” she and John have planned for the summer. Meanwhile, John’s drinking is spiraling out of control with dangerous results, and they’re closer together than ever.

Sarah Gerard’s Binary Star is an intense, fast-moving saga of two young lovers and the culture that keeps them sick; a society that sells diet pills and sleeping pills, magazines that profile celebrities who lose weight, or too much weight, or put on weight; and books that pimp diet secrets or recipes for success—a cataclysmic story of the quest for perfection.

Praise for Binary Star

"Sarah Gerard's star is rising."--The Millions

"A bold, beautiful novel about wanting to disappear and almost succeeding. Sarah Gerard writes about love and loneliness in a new and brilliantly visceral way."--Jenny Offill

"I felt a breathless intensity the whole time I read Sarah Gerard's brilliant Binary Star. I sped through it, dizzy, devastated, loving all of it."--Kate Zambreno

"Two lost souls hurtle through a long dark night where drug store fluorescents light up fashion magazine headlines and the bad flarf of the pharmacy: Hydroxycut, Seroquel, Ativan, Zantrex-3. Gerard's young lovers rightly revolt against the insane standards of a sick society, but their pursuit of purity--ideological, mental, physical--comes to constitute another kind of impossible demand, all the more dangerous for being self-imposed. Binary Star is merciless and cyclonic, a true and brutal poem of obliteration, an all-American death chant whose chorus is 'I want to look at the sky and understand.'"--Justin Taylor

"By now I've read Binary Star twice, and I've become so entwined with it that I'm reluctant to talk about the subject at length. Let me just say that I've never read anything like it."--Harry Mathews

"Allegorized by the phenomena of binary stars, Sarah Gerard's first novel confronts the symptoms of modern living with beauty and courage."--Simon Van Booy

Sarah Gerard's work has appeared in the New York Times, New York Magazine's "The Cut," Paris Review Daily, Slice Magazine, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Bookforum, and other journals. She is the author of the chapbook Things I Told My Mother and a graduate of The New School's MFA program for fiction.

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MICHAEL LOCKE and VINCENT BROOK discuss their book SILVER LAKE CHRONICLES: EXPLORING AN URBAN OASIS IN LOS ANGELES

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on February 15th, 2015

Silver Lake ChroniclesExploring an Urban Oasis in Los Angeles (History Press)

Situated between Los Feliz and Echo Park a few miles from downtown Los Angeles, Silver Lake thrives as a perennially avant-garde and enchanting enclave. From mansion builders and movie stars to bohemians, visionaries and just plain folk, discover Silver Lake's illustrious past and a fantastic cast of characters sure to enrich contemporary experience and inform the past. Colorful anecdotes about early movie magnates William Selig and Mack Sennett and silent-screen idols Mabel Normand, Antonio Moreno and Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle flesh out these famous figures' lives in new and surprising ways. Other lesser-known but richly deserving stories about the area's pioneer families are shared perhaps for the first time. Authors Michael Locke and Vincent Brook present a rich tapestry of this unique urban oasis whose appeal seems only to grow.

Michael Locke is a longtime resident of Southern California. He served on the first Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, as the Region One representative and vice chair, and was founder of the Beautification Committee. Since 2003, he has edited and published The Silver Lake News, an online community newspaper. He is also a regular contributing writer and photographer for the Los Feliz Ledger, the Los Feliz Observer and the Los Angeles City Historical Society Newsletter. He lives in the Durex Model Home (Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument Number 1025) in Los Feliz with his wife, Donna Jean. 
 
Vincent Brook has a PhD in film and television from UCLA. He teaches media studies at the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of Southern California; California State University, Los Angeles; and Pierce College. He has authored or edited five other books, most recently: Land of Smoke and Mirrors: A Cultural History of Los Angeles and Woody on Rye: Jewishness in the Films and Plays of Woody Allen (both 2013). Born in Van Nuys, he has lived in Silver Lake with his wife Karen since 1978. 
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RICHARD LANGE reads from his newest short story collection SWEET NOTHING

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on February 15th, 2015

Sweet Nothing: Stories (Mulholland Books)

Richard Lange is one of our most highly acclaimed literary mystery writers. He has been hailed as a “natural-born storyteller” and compared to great masters like Raymond Carver and Denis Johnson. His debut, Dead Boys, was called “one of the best short story collections of the past 50 years” by the San Francisco Chronicle, and it put his name on the literary map. Now he returns to the form that started it all with his latest collection, Sweet Nothing.

A gambler tries to hide his addiction on a date at the racetrack. An ex-con must decide between cashing in on a lucrative heist and staying the course as a small-time security guard. And a recovering drug addict yearns to connect with a beautiful woman during his graveyard shift at Subway. With the dark side of Los Angeles as a backdrop, these ten unforgettable stories artfully combine the honest characterization of Junot Díaz with the edge-of-your-seat energy of Dennis Lehane. They capture and crystallize the mistakes and poor judgments that truly make us human, and reveal how a moment’s misstep can irrevocably shape a life. 

Praise for Sweet Nothing:

“Skillfully constructed.…Lange portrays the lives of people struggling to survive, with the focus on families, both blood-related and chance-made.”—Booklist

“For all the darkness that runs through the stories…Lange maintains a disarmingly light touch, finding plenty of human comedy in the proceedings without sacrificing empathy.…Lange’s morality tales are not that far removed from the classic stories of O. Henry and Guy de Maupassant. With a distinctive style, Lange makes his downbeat tales of the underclass quirkily entertaining.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Utterly believable postcards from the edge; for those who like their realism not so magical but right there at street level.” —Library Journal

“The best stories are rabbit holes. You read the first lines, maybe a page, and you’re down there. Somewhere else. Another life. Richard Lange is one cwazy wabbit.”—James Sallis, author of Drive

“What makes this collection a wonderful read is that it’s only marginally akin to anything else. Swift, gut-wrenching, and sometimes cleverly disarming fiction by a master.”—Joe R. Lansdale, author of The Thicket and Edge of Dark Water

“I’ve been reading Richard Lange’s work since Dead Boys blew my doors off years ago, and goddamn, the man just keeps getting better. The stories in Sweet Nothing traffic in the vagaries of the human heart, those wants and needs that push us down dark paths. His vision is steely-eyed, yet you sense that Lange loves his characters—even the worst of them—and that compassion sharpensyour own emotional investment in this powerful brace of stories.”—Craig Davidson, author of Cataract City

Richard Lange is the author of the story collection Dead Boys 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.

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ROBERT S. LEVINSON reads from his novel THE EVIL DEEDS WE DO

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on February 15th, 2015

The Evil Deeds We Do (Five Star)

The evil deeds we do are often the things we do for love.

Lainie Davis Gardner’s past comes back to haunt the one-time record industry powerhouse in the complex, gripping, often intense tale bestselling author Robert S. Levinson weaves in The Evil Deeds We Do, his twelfth mystery-thriller. First, she’s confronted by L.A. Assistant D.A Harry Roman, who promises he’ll soon prove Lainie was behind the murder of her husband, Roy. Next, the mayor’s chief advisor, Thom Newberry, Lainie’s one-time lover, offers her a permanent solution to her problem with Roman, but it comes at a steep price, one Lainie agrees to pay on Newberry’s guarantee it will keep her from ever losing custody of her troubled, trouble-inspiring teenage daughter, Sara.

She has six weeks to locate and steal a file secreted in heavily guarded quarters by brutish Leonard Volkman, who runs a vast financial empire and was, she believes, behind Roy’s financial downfall. She strikes a partnership deal with Volkman to create a label built around singer-songwriter Miranda Morgan and reluctantly accepts help from Rod Flynn, a gregarious Irishman operating Volkman’s bogus film production company. Events escalate to include fading movie star Lance Clifford; Chips Crandall, Lainie’s nemesis during her time behind bars; Berry Berryman, a notorious hoodlum; music impresario Benny Sugar; and Newberry’s teenage son, Jerry, whose relationship with Lainie’s daughter Sara causes a series of twists that culminate in multiple deaths and heartbreaking tragedy.

Robert S. Levinson is the bestselling author of twelve mystery-thrillers, among them Finders, Keepers, Losers, Weepers, Phony Tinsel, A Rhumba in Waltz Time, The Traitor in Us All, and Ask a Dead Man. His short stories appear frequently in the Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock mystery magazines. He is a Derringer Award winner, a Shamus Award nominee, and regularly included in “year’s best” anthologies. Bob served four years on Mystery Writers of America’s (MWA) national board of directors. He wrote and produced two MWA Edgar Awards shows and two International Thriller Writers Thriller Awards shows. His work has been praised by Nelson DeMille, Clive Cussler, Joseph Wambaugh, Margaret Maron, David Morrell, Jeffery Deaver, T. Jefferson Parker, Willliam Link, John Lescroart, James Rollins, Joseph Finder, Margaret Maron, Thomas Perry, William Kent Krueger, and others. He resides in Los Angeles with his spouse, Sandra, and Rosie, their mixed-breed rescue pooch, who believes she rescued them. More atwww.robertslevinson.com.

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CARMEN BOULLOSA reads from her novel TEXAS: THE GREAT THEFT

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on February 15th, 2015

Texas: The Great Theft (Deep Vellum)

Please welcome to Skylight Books the author Roberto Bolaño calls "Mexico's best woman writer" Carmen Boullosa!

A writer in the tradition of Juan Rulfo, Jorge Luis Borges, and Cesar Aira, Carmen Boullosa shows herself to be at the height of her powers with her latest book. Loosely based on the little-known 1859 Mexican invasion of the United States, Texas: The Great Theftis a richly imagined evocation of the volatile Tex-Mex borderland. Boullosa views the border history through distinctly Mexican eyes, and her sympathetic portrayal of each of her wildly diverse characters—Mexican ranchers and Texas Rangers, Comanches and cowboys, German socialists and runaway slaves, Southern belles and dance hall girls—makes her storytelling tremendously powerful and absorbing. Shedding important historical light on the current battles over the Mexican-American frontier, while telling a gripping story with Boullosa's singular prose and formal innovation, Texas marks the welcome return of a major writer who has previously captivated American audiences and is poised to do so again.

PRAISE FOR CARMEN BOULLOSA

"A luminous writer . . . Boullosa is a masterful spinner of the fantastic." — MIAMI HERALD

"Carmen Boullosa writes with a heart-stopping command of language."— Alma Guillermoprieto

"A story and men armed by necessity and by caprice, a tale of indomitable women, a chronicle of cowboys and Indians, of African-Americans and immigrants from other parts, of captives and their keepers, of slavers and rebels." — LA JOURNADA

"I don't think there's a writer with more variety in themes and focuses in his or her writing. . . . Boullosa's style and range is unique for its versatility and its enormous courage."— Juan Villoro, author of La Casa Pierde and Aforismos

" . . . a cross between W. G. Sebald and Gabriel García Márquez."— El Pais

"The world of Carmen Boullosa is revealed as a sui generis form weathering the storms of history."— Letras Libres

"Carmen Boullosa is, in my opinion, a true master."— Alvaro Mutis, author of The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll

Carmen Boullosa (Mexico City, 1954) is one of Mexico's leading writers. The author of over a dozen novels that have received numerous prizes and honors, Boullosa has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a Cullman Center Fellow at the New York Public Library. Also a poet and playwright, she has taught at New York University, Columbia University, CUNY, and Georgetown, among other universities, and she hosts a television show, Nueva York, on CUNY-TV, which has received five New York Emmys. Her work has been translated into several languages, and she is currently a FONCA fellow in Mexico. She lives in Brooklyn and Mexico City. You can visit her online atcarmenboullosa.net or follow her on twitter: @carmenboullosa.
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PATTON OSWALT discuss his new book SILVER SCREEN FIEND

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on February 15th, 2015

Silver Screen Fiend (Scribner)

Skylight Books welcomes back one of our favorite comedic minds --Patton Oswalt -- for a reading and signing of his new book,Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life From An Addiction to Film.

NOTE: As with all Skylight Books events, this reading is free and open to the public (first come, first served).  But because we're expecting a large crowd at this event, we'll be giving out numbered tickets to the signing line to keep things organized.  To get a ticket to the signing line, you must purchase a copy of Silver Screen Fiend here at Skylight Books.  Tickets will be available starting January 6th, 2015.  They will be available in-store, or you can order on our website and leave a note in the "Order Comments" field.  We will also hold a ticket for you if you order and pay for a book over the phone.  In addition to books, Patton Oswalt will sign one additional item and will pose for one photograph with individual attendees, though you are welcome to take photos during the event and from the line (no flash please). Lastly, we ask that you please refrain from making an audio or video recording of the event.  Thank you for your cooperation!

From New York Times-bestselling author, multifaceted comedian and actor, and social media genius Patton Oswalt, a memoir of coming of age as a performer and writer while obsessively watching classic films at the legendary New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles in the mid-90s: Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film.

In Patton Oswalt’s own words, Silver Screen Fiend is “the dorkiest addiction memoir ever.” It tells the story of his early days in the comedy scene of Los Angeles. After moving to LA, he started hanging out constantly at the New Beverly Cinema, absorbing classics, cult hits, and new releases. The movies he views inform his notions of acting, writing, comedy, and relationships, and the colorful cast of characters he meets at the New Beverly fill in the rest.

Praise for Silver Screen Fiend:

"Silver Screen Fiend is both a love letter to artistic obsession and string of caution tape around it. Patton describes the ecstatic demands of the arts (in this case, Stand-up and Film) with insight, fond pity, and unfailing humor. This is a book for anyone who strives to be great, or is bored in an airport."--Joss Whedon

"Patton Oswalt is one of the most brilliant comedy minds of a generation. This book confirms it."--Ricky Gervais

Patton Oswalt is the author of the New York Times bestseller Zombie Spaceship Wasteland. He has released five TV specials and five critically acclaimed comedy albums, including two Grammy-nominated releases, My Weakness Is Strong and Finest Hour. Oswalt has also appeared on many television shows and in more than twenty films, including Young Adult, Big Fan, and Ratatouille. Oswalt was the host of the 29th Independent Spirit Awards and the 18th Annual Webby Awards. He lives in Los Angeles. 

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BRENT ARMENDINGER reads from his new book of poetry THE GHOST IN US WAS MULTIPLYING, together with CLAUDIA RANKINE

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on February 15th, 2015

The Ghost In Us Was Multiplying (Noemi Press)

Where does one body end and another begin? In The Ghost in Us Was Mul­tiplying, Brent Armendinger explores the relationship between ethics and queer desire, infusing meditations on public life and politics with a radical sense of intimacy. Although grounded in lyric, these poems are ever mindful of how language falls apart in us and – perhaps more im­portantly – how we fall apart in language. Armendinger asks, “What ra­tio of news and light should a poem deliver?” This book is a continuous reckoning with that question and the ways that we inhabit each other.

Praise for The Ghost In Us Was Multiplying:

To “multiply.” To “ devote.” To “ferment inside a hush.” Brent Armendinger writes through and from the body, recollected [contravened] at all turns by the ferocity of its accompanying landscapes, affinities and the heart itself. “How else can I survive?” writes the poet, deep inside a book that traces the index of an intense need: the kind of contact that can’t be assuaged by touch alone. I was so interested in this other, longitudinal and “surpassing” touch that happened again and again in a book both measured and dreamed: the “pictogram,” for example, that’s heard rather than seen; the blood that’s mailed “back north”-- a “stain, my zero.” What does it mean to encounter a zero -- a “stranger”-- that doesn’t diminish in repetition, but which strengthens, glitters, hurts to look at directly or feel? Brent Armendinger writes into this quality or “crucial” space with an emotional and soulful approach to the “amniotic” potential of vocabu­laries, human and otherwise. “What do the birds think?” I loved this book so much, for what it senses into as much as it expresses: a longing for radical company; studies of water and cosmic flows of all kinds. “Where will you live now,” asks the poet, “and can you hear it,/the way your voice has changed?” Brent Armendinger is a rare experimental writer who writes deeply and passion­ately from the soul. I am extremely honored to write in support of his poetry. --Bhanu Kapil, author of Ban en Banlieue

The poems in Brent Armendinger’s The Ghost in Us Was Multiplying are hushed, as if spoken the morning after a heavy snow. They are also admirably attentive to sadness, breath, and desire. Their speaker laments being “too permeable,” but it’s precisely that translucence that matters here: it makes audible the mu­sic of his “almost way of touching,” as well as delivering the sometimes mel­ancholy, perennially essential sound of “how the heart opening always feels.
—Maggie Nelson, author of The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning

Brent Armendinger was born in Warsaw, New York, and studied at Bard College and the University of Michigan. In addition to The Ghost in Us Was Multiplying, Armendinger has published two chapbooks, Undetectable and Archipelago. His work has appeared in many journals, including Aufgabe, Bateau, Bloom, Bombay Gin, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Hayden’s Ferry Review, LIT, Puerto del Sol, RECAPS Magazine, Volt, and Web Conjunctions. In 2013, Armendinger was awarded a residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts. He lives in Los Angeles and teaches at Pitzer College, where he is an Associate Professor of English and World Literature.

Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry, including Citizen and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely, and the plays, Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue, commissioned by the Foundry Theatre and Existing Conditions (co-authored with Casey Llewellyn). Rankine is co-editor of American Women Poets in the Twenty-First Century series with Wesleyan University Press andThe Racial Imaginary with Fence Books. A recipient of awards and fellowships from  The Academy of American Poets, The American Academy of Arts and Letters, The Lannan Foundation,  Poets and Writers and the National Endowments for the Arts, she teaches at Pomona College. 

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BLACK QUEER LIT: THEN AND NOW

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on February 14th, 2015

In recognition of Black History Month, join us as we remember the contributions of Black Queer writers past and present. Frederick L. Smith (Play It Forward) Sheree L. Greer (Let The Lover Be), Rebekah Weatherspoon (Treasure), and Fiona Zedde (Desire at Dawn) discuss their current novels--courtesy of Bold Stroke Books--as well as the past, present, and future of Black LGBTQ literature.

Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Frederick Smith is a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism and Loyola University Chicago. He lives in Los Angeles and is also the author of Down for Whatever and Right Side of the Wrong Bed. Readers can contact him at www.FrederickLSmith.com.

A Milwaukee, Wisconsin native, Sheree L. Greer has been published in Hair Trigger, The Windy City Times, Reservoir, Fictionary, and the WindyCity Queer Anthology: Dispatches from the Third Coast. She has performed her work across selected venues in Milwaukee, New York, Miami, Chicago, and Tampa, where she hosts Oral Fixation, the only LGBTQ Open Mic series in TampaBay. She received a Union League of Chicago Civic Arts Foundation Award, earned her MFA at Columbia College Chicago, and currently teaches writing and literature at St. Petersburg College. Ms. Greer is an Astraea Lesbian Writers Fund grantee and completed a VONA residency at University of Miami. She recently published a short story collection, Once and Future Lovers and an excerpt from her novel What Has Never Been Taught appears in Best Lesbian Romance 2012.

After years of meddling in her friends’ love lives, Rebekah Weatherspoon turned to writing romance as a means to surviving a stressful professional life. She has worked in various positions from library assistant, meter maid, middle school teacher, B movie production assistant, reality show crew chauffeur, D movie producer, and her most fulfilling job to date, lube and harness specialist at an erotic boutique in West Hollywood. Her interests include Wonder Woman collectibles, cookies, James Taylor, quality hip-hop, football, American muscle cars, large breed dogs, and the ocean. When she’s not working, writing, reading, or sleeping, she is watching Ken Burns documentaries and cartoons or taking dance classes. If given the chance, she will cheat at UNO. She was raised in Southern New Hampshire and now lives in Southern California with an individual who is much more tech savvy than she ever will be. Member RWA.

Jamaican-born Fiona Zedde currently lives and writes in Atlanta, Georgia. She is the author of several novellas and novels of lesbian love and desire, including the Lambda Literary Award finalists Bliss and Every Dark Desire. Her novel, Dangerous Pleasures,was winner of the About.com Readers’ Choice Award for Best Lesbian Novel or Memoir of 2012. Her short fiction has appeared in various anthologies including the Cleis Press Best Lesbian Erotica series, Wicked: Sexy Tales of Legendary Lovers, Iridescence: Sensuous Shades of Lesbian Erotica, and Fist of the Spider Woman. Writing under the name "Fiona Lewis," she has also published a novel of young adult fiction called Dreaming in Color with Tiny Satchel Press. And as “Lindsay Evans,” she has written multiple novels for Harlequin Kimani Romance. Her latest novel, Desire at Dawn, is available now.

***Unfortunately our little podcast recording device ran out of digital space before this event reached completion.  We regret the omission but trust the listener will enjoy the hour of recorded material that is available***

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DAVID TREUER reads from his novel PRUDENCE

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on February 9th, 2015

Prudence (Riverhead Books)

Please join us tonight for David Treuer's haunting and unforgettable novel about love, loss, race, and desire in World War II-era America.

On a sweltering day in August 1942, Frankie Washburn returns to his family's rustic Minnesota resort for one last visit before he joins the war as a bombardier, headed for the darkened skies over Europe. Awaiting him at the Pines are those he's about to leave behind: his hovering mother; the distant father to whom he's been a disappointment; the Indian caretaker who's been more of a father to him than his own; and Billy, the childhood friend who over the years has become something much more intimate. But before the homecoming can be celebrated, the search for a German soldier, escaped from the POW camp across the river, explodes in a shocking act of violence, with consequences that will reverberate years into the future for all of them and that will shape how each of them makes sense of their lives.

With Prudence, David Treuer delivers his most ambitious and captivating novel yet. Powerful and wholly original, it's a story of desire and loss and the search for connection in a riven world; of race and class in a supposedly more innocent era. Most profoundly, it's about the secrets we choose to keep, the ones we can't help but tell, and who--and how--we're allowed to love

Praise for Prudence:

"David Treuer's novel Prudence is a wondrous and mesmerizing narrative--intricate, seductive and wholly gratifying." --Toni Morrison

David Treuer is Ojibwe from the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota. He grew up on Leech Lake and left to attend Princeton University where he worked with Paul Muldoon, Joanna Scott, and Toni Morrison. He published his first novel, Little, when he was twenty-four. Treuer is the recipient of the Pushcart Prize, and his work has been named an editor's pick by the Washington Post, Time Out, and City Pages. His essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Esquire, Slate.com, and The Washington Post. He has a PhD in anthropology and teaches literature and creative writing at The University of Southern California. He divides his time between LA and The Leech Lake Reservation.

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AMELIA MORRIS discusses her book BON APPETEMPT: A COMING OF AGE STORY (WITH RECIPES!)

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on February 9th, 2015

Bon Appetempt: A Coming of Age Story (with Recipes!) Grand Central Publishing

When Amelia Morris found a beautiful chocolate cake in Bon Appétit and took the recipe home to recreate it for a Christmas day brunch, it collapsed into a terrible (but delicious) mess that had to be served in an oversized bowl. It also paralleled the never-quite-predictable situations she's gotten herself into throughout her life, from her one-day career as a six-year-old lady wrestler to her ill-fated job at the School of Rock in Los Angeles.

Now author of a blog named one of the best of 2012 by TIME magazine and awarded “Best Food Humor Blog” 2012 by Saveurmagazine, Amelia has woven those stories into Bon Appetempt: A Coming-of-Age Story (with Recipes!) – a funny and poignant memoir about collapsing cakes and coming of age in your twenties and thirties.

Full of hilarious and touching observations about food, family, unemployment, romance, and the excesses of modern L.A., and incorporating recipes as basic as Toasted Cheerios and as advanced as gâteau de crêpes, Bon Appetempt follows Amelia as she finds that even if some of her attempts fall short of the standard set by a food magazine, they can still bring satisfaction to her and her family and friends.

Praise for Bon Appetempt

"Bon Appetempt is a charming, thoughtful, and touching memoir about growing up and becoming the person and artist you've always wanted to be--both inside and outside the kitchen. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and I could not put it down. It also made me very, very hungry for crepes!"--Edan Lepucki, author of California

"Amelia Morris's debut, Bon Appetempt, is one of the most compulsively readable books I've picked up in years. It's spirited, funny, smartly nostalgic, wistful, real. I've never seen another author break a reader's heart, make them laugh, and offer up a recipe for broccolini in the span of two pages. It's all here: big love, big sadness, superb self-aware writing, and cake. Indulge in all of it as fast as you can, and enjoy the rewarding fullness of this incredible book."--Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Birds of a Lesser Paradise and Almost Famous Women

"Amelia Morris uses her trademark humor and fierce honesty to tell a wry and touching coming-of-age story. It made me laugh, wrenched my heart and gave me an instant craving for beans and rice in coconut milk."--Luisa Weiss, founder of The Wednesday Chef and author of My Berlin Kitchen

"Morris adopts an interest in cooking as an adult, grabbing food glossies at grocery checkouts and trying to re-create the meals they picture. The impetus for the blog she starts, with which this book shares its name, was a growing realization that if words failed her, food wouldn't: cooking, as opposed to writing, became a place to lightheartedly attempt great things, and not feel personally hurt if she failed. . . Some recipes are described in the text, too, like the toasted cheerios Morris makes, immediately summoning childhood memories. Sure to appeal to fans of her personable blog, and to round up new ones."--Booklist

Amelia Morris is the creator of Bon Appétempt, which TIME magazine named as one of the twenty-five best blogs of 2012. Her work has also been featured in the Los Angeles Times, The Splendid Table, Saveur.com, BonAppetit.com, and McSweeney's. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she was the recipient of the Margaret Shannon Morton Fellowship. She currently lives on the east side of Los Angeles with her husband, baby son, and small dog. Visit her at www.bonappetempt.com and on Twitter @bonappetempt

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TOSH BERMAN reads and discusses his book of poetry THE PLUM IN MR BLUM’S PUDDING, with special guest RUTH BERNSTEIN

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on November 28th, 2014

The Plum in Mr Blum's Pudding (Penny Ante Editions)

“My hours of leisure I spent in reading the best authors, ancient and modern, being always provided with a good number of books; and when I was ashore, in observing the manners and dispositions of the people, as well as learning their language; wherein I had a great facility, by the strength of my memory.”

- Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels

The Plum in Mr. Blum’s Pudding is Los Angeles native Tosh Berman’s first printed collection of poetry. In 1989, Berman left the United States behind, moving to Japan after learning his wife's (artist Lun*na Menoh) mother was ill in Kitakyushu. The Plum in Mr. Blum’s Pudding was penned while both rapt and lost by this transition. Gracefully toiling between the quirky and earnest, these poems describe the liminal space of the foreigner caught between the strange and the familiar. The result is surreal and unclassifiable, a book of love poems overshadowed by isolation and underscored with curiosity and lust.

Originally published in 1990 by “Cole Swift & Sons” (Japan) as a small hardcover edition of two hundred copies, this new edition acts to preserve this work and features an introduction by art critic and curator Kristine McKenna and an afterword by Ruth Bernstein.

Tosh Berman is a publisher and writer. His press, TamTam Books, has published works by Boris Vian, Guy Debord, Serge Gainsbourg, Jacques Mesrine, artist Lun*na Menoh, and Ron Mael & Russell Mael (Sparks). He is the author of Sparks-tastic: 21 Nights with Sparks in London. As the son of artist Wallace Berman, Tosh has delivered talks and various essays toward furthering his late father’s artistic legacy including his influential folio series, Semina (1955–1964). He resides in Los Angeles.

Ruth Bernstein lives in Highland Park where she writes postcards and collects books.

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