Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on September 19th, 2014

We are proud to present a performance by celebrated singer-songwriter Kath Bloom!

Kath Bloom is a legendary American singer-songwriter from Litchfield, Connecticut. In the 1970s she collaborated with Bruce Neumann and recorded with avant-garde guitarist Loren MazzaCane Connors releasing multiple albums of fragile, simple folk and blues melodies that play heart strings and raw nerves like a shaman summoning a beast made of blinding light.

She stopped recording new material for a few decades, choosing to raise her children, until Richard Linklater discovered her music sometime in the early '90s and subsequently featured her song "Come Here" in his 1995 film, Before Sunrise. Since then, Bloom has continued to write new songs and has released albums on Caldo Verde Records and Chapter Music. A tribute album entitled Loving Takes This Course was released in 2009 and features artists such as Devendra Banhart, Bill Callahan, and Mark Kozelek.

Kath’s new album Pass Through Here was recorded over the last three years in Los Feliz and will be released by Chapter Music (Australia) this fall.

"Bloom sounds like a woman who has spent years in the wilderness… An earthy, unpretentious presence, she can snap a heart like a twig." – Pitchfork

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Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on September 14th, 2014

The Moor's Account (Pantheon)

Tonight's reading is part of the Los Angeles/Islam Arts Initiative (LA/IAI).

From the author of Secret Son and Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits comes  The Moor's Account, the imagined memoirs of the New World's first explorer of African descent, a Moroccan slave known as Estebanico.

In 1527, Panfilo de Narvaez sailed from Spain with a crew of six hundred men, intending to claim for the Spanish crown what is now the Gulf Coast of the United States. But from the moment the expedition reached Florida, it met with ceaseless bad luck--storms, disease, starvation, hostile natives--and within a year there were only four survivors, including the young explorer Andres Dorantes and his slave, Estebanico.

After six years of enslavement by Native Americans, the four men escaped and wandered through what is now Florida, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. The Moor's Account brilliantly captures Estebanico's voice and vision, giving us an alternate narrative for this famed expedition. As this dramatic chronicle unfolds, we come to understand that, contrary to popular belief, black men played a significant part in New World exploration, and that Native American men and women were not merely silent witnesses to it. In Laila Lalami's deft hands, Estebanico's memoir illuminates the ways in which stories can transmigrate into history, even as storytelling can offer a chance at redemption and survival.

Praise for The Moor's Account

“A beautiful, rousing tale that would be difficult to believe if it were not actually true. Lalami has once again shown why she is one of her generation’s most gifted writers.” —Reza Aslan, author of Zealot

“¡Qué belleza! Laila Lalami has given us a mesmerizing reimagining of one of the foundational chronicles of exploration of the New World and an indictment of the uncontainable hubris displayed by Spanish explorers—told from the point of view of Estebanillo, an Arab slave and Cabeza de Vaca’s companion in a trek across the United States that is as important as that of Lewis and Clark. The style and voice of sixteenth-century crónicas are turned upside down to subtly undermine our understanding of race and religion, now and then. The Moor’s Account is a worthy stepchild of Don Quixote de la Mancha.”—Ilan Stavans, author of On Borrowed Words: A Memoir of Language and general editor of The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature

“A novel of extraordinary scope, ambition and originality. Laila Lalami has given voice to a man silenced by for five centuries, a voice both convincing and compelling. The Moor’s Account is a work of creativity and compassion, one which demonstrates the full might of Lalami’s talent as a writer.”—Aminatta Forna, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and Hurston Prize Legacy Award winning author of The Memory of Love, Ancestor Stones, and The Devil That Danced on the Water

Laila Lalami was born and raised in Morocco. She attended Université Mohammed V in Rabat, University College in London, and the University of Southern California, where she earned a Ph.D. in linguistics. She is the author of the short story collection Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award, and the novel Secret Son, which was on the Orange Prize longlist. Her essays and opinion pieces have appeared in Newsweek, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, The Guardian, The New York Times, and in numerous anthologies. Her work has been translated into ten languages. She is the recipient of a British Council Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Lannan Foundation Residency Fellowship, and is currently an associate professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside.

This reading is a part of the Los Angeles / Islam Arts Initiative (LA/IAI)

Launching this fall, the Los Angeles / Islam Arts Initiative (LA/IAI) brings together nearly 30 cultural institutions throughout Los Angeles to tell various stories of traditional and contemporary art from multiple Islamic regions and their significant global diasporas. LA/IAI is the first-of-its kind, wide-scale citywide initiative on Islamic arts producing and presenting programming such as art exhibitions, panels, discussions, and performances. Anchoring LA/IAI are two connected exhibitions, Doris Duke’s Shangri La: Architecture, Landscape, and Islamic Art and the contemporary art exhibition, Shangri La: Imagined Cities commissioned by the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) to be held at DCA’s Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG) at Barnsdall Park from October 26 to December 28, 2014.

Los Angeles’ substantial populations from areas with strong Islamic roots make LA a compelling location for this initiative. LA/IAI casts a wide net, being inclusive and welcoming, with art as its central focus. The term “Islamic art” includes work created by non-Muslim artists from Muslim-dominant countries, work by Muslims creating art in non-Muslim dominant countries, and work by artists culturally influenced by Islam. Designed to build a greater understanding of the role of Islamic arts, LA/IAI seeks to stimulate the global conversation in connection to cultural, political, and social issues. The celebration of Islamic art and culture is presented by DCA with major support from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Community Foundation, the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), and the Barnsdall Park Foundation.

For more information, please visit:  http://www.laislamarts.org/

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Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on September 14th, 2014

Rainey Royal (Soho Press)

Greenwich Village, 1970s. Fourteen-year-old Rainey Royal lives with her father, a jazz musician with a cultish personality, in a once-elegant, now decaying brownstone. Her mother has abandoned the family, and Rainey fends off advances from her father's best friend while trying desperately to nurture her own creative drives and build a substitute family. She's a rebel, even a criminal, but she's also deeply vulnerable, fighting to figure out how to put back in place the boundaries her life has knocked down, and more than that, struggling to learn how to be an artist and a person in a broken world.

Praise for Rainey Royal:

"Rainey Royal" gets under your skin, pushes you out of your comfort zone, and takes you to a truer, more frightening place. Dylan Landis captures the innocence and cruelty of teenage girls in flamey, jewel-like sentences that hover on the edge of rapture: read these stories with your heart in your throat."--Ellis Avery, author of The Last Nude

"There is a line in Dylan Landis's lush, fierce, and stunning novel Rainey Royal, that perfectly captures this book's intense beauty. 'Rainey feels half like a butterfly has landed on her wrist and half like a knife is angled to her neck.' Rainey Royal is a chronicle of girlhood as a dangerous, delicate thing. There is edge and tenderness and longing to be found here. Always, though, Landis's words are a butterfly and a knife both cutting you open in necessary ways." --Roxane Gay, author of An Untamed State

"Every woman has known a Rainey Royal. The coolest girl in school, the most daring, the most beautiful, yet the one who could turn on you--and then, bewilderingly, turn back. What makes a Rainey Royal, and her effect on everyone she encounters--that chaos of yearning, cruelty, woundedness, seeking, and human poetry--we needed a great writer to show us, and here she is. Dylan Landis has written a spare, elegant novel that's pure nerves, pure adrenaline. Should carry a warning, "do not read at bedtime.""--Janet Fitch, #1 "New York Times" bestselling author of White Oleander and Paint It Black

Dylan Landis is the author of Normal People Don't Live Like This (Persea Books), a linked story collection that made Newsday's Ten Best Books of 2009 and More magazine's list of 100 Books Every Woman Must Read. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Tin House, BOMB, Best American Nonrequired Reading, The New York Times Book Review and House Beautiful, among other publications. She's received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sewanee Writers' Conference and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Rainey Royal is her first novel.

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RAZORCAKE presents LIZ PRINCE reading from her graphic memoir TOMBOY

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on September 14th, 2014

Tomboy (Zest Books)

Razorcake and Skylight Books are teaming up to present graphic novelist Liz Prince, presenting her new graphic memoir Tomboy! 

Growing up, Liz Prince wasn’t a girly girl, but she wasn’t exactly one of the guys either (as she learned when her little league baseball coach exiled her to the distant outfield). She was somewhere in between. But with the forces of middle school, high school, parents, friendship, and romance pulling her this way and that, the middle wasn’t exactly an easy place to be. Tomboy follows award-winning author and artist Liz Prince through her early years and explores—with humor, honesty, and poignancy—what it means to “be a girl.”

From staunchly refuting ”girliness” to the point of misogyny, to discovering through the punk community that your identity is whatever you make of it, Tomboy offers a sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking account of self-discovery in modern America.

Praise for Tomboy

“Liz Prince tells gender norms to eat dirt. A delightful, thoughtful, and compulsively readable memoir. And an important one.” —Ariel Schrag, author of Adam and Potential 

“Liz Prince may have been an uncertain, confused kid, but she’s a confident and sincerely expressive cartoonist. Tomboy is a funny and relatable look at what every child has to deal with at some point—figuring out who you really are inside, when everyone else only sees what they think you should be on the outside.” —Jeffrey Brown, author of Clumsy, Jedi Academy andDarth Vader and Son

“It’s hard to imagine anyone failing to be charmed by this entertaining, clever, and genuinely funny memoir of growing up with gender identity confusion. Even this pretty unconfused regular old dude found plenty to identify with in Liz Prince’s story of adolescent bafflement, exploration, and discovery—all delivered, like all the best such stories, with a light touch, wry wit, understated irony, and not one iota of preachiness. Meaning: I’m a fan. Go Liz!” —Frank Portman, author of King Dork 

Tomboy is a thoughtful, honest look into the evolution and acceptance of personal gender identity, as told by a smart-mouhed punk named Liz Prince. I wish it had existed when I was in high school.” —Nicole Georges, author of Calling Dr. Laura

“Liz Prince portrays the awkwardness and humiliation of childhood with wonderful (not to mention painful) accuracy. Any kid that picks up this book is going to be privy to secrets most of us don’t learn until it’s too late, and any adult who reads it will be reminded of an essential truth: that’s it’s okay to be exactly who we want to be, no matter how weird everyone else thinks we are. Tomboy isn’t a self help book, but it should be.” —Julia Wertz, author of Drinking at the Movies and The Infinite Wait

“It’s not very often you read a goofy coming-of-age comic written with an astutely critical lens… and then there’s Liz Prince’sTomboy. By tackling everything from Green Day to girl-hate, Prince does a kick-ass job at dissecting gender politics (and playground politics) through riotous anecdotes from her childhood, making this feminist inquiry, well, fun.” —Suzy X., illustrator at Rookie Mag 

“Navigating life as a young tomboy would have been a lot easier if I’d had Liz’s brave, hilarious, and honest story to guide me. Reading this book will make weird kids like us feel a little less alone.” —Melissa Mendes, author of Freddy Stories 

Liz Prince's first book, Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed?, was nominated for several awards and won the Ignatz Award for Outstanding Debut in 2005. Born in Boston, MA, she grew up in Santa Fe, NM, and has been drawing comics since the third grade. She has since produced many of her own comics and mini-comics, which mix her real-life foibles with charming cartooning and comic timing. Fans have described her work as being "cute," making them feel "warm and fuzzy," or simply being "too much information." She now lives outside of Boston and drinks more than her fair share of coffee. 

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Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on September 14th, 2014

A Death in Vegas (White Whisker Books) 

Love Will Make YOu Drink and Gamble, Stay Out Late At Night (White Whisker Books)

Join us tonight for a very special eventing with local publisher White Whisker Books!

In A Death in Vegas, the president of a company that specializes in beneficial bugs for organic gardeners discovers a young woman dead in his Las Vegas hotel suite. She had worked as a sexy lady bug at his convention booth -- and he had nothing to do with her death. While that's being investigated, the FBI raids his booth on a money-laundering scam that he knows nothing about. Soon, the coroner doesn't have good news, either. Who has set him up? Why? With the police and FBI are against him, and his wife missing, he flees to find answers and his wife.

Love Will Make You Drink and Gamble, Stay Out Late at Night brings a number of Shelly Lowenkopf's previously published short stories together in a single volume. Lowenkopf is best known as a master instructor of fiction writing and a book editor. He taught for over thirty years at the University of Southern California, and now at the noted College of Creative Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara. All the while, he's been publishing these short gems. All the stories revolve around life in Santa Barbara, the oceanside city north of Los Angeles, where people go after they've burned out in San Francisco and L.A. But there's no safe haven anywhere. Interwoven into Santa Barbara's picturesque setting, the people in these twelve stories reveal what their hearts and souls encounter in relationships. Their misreadings, mistakes, and misadventures bare what happens to people who love another. 

Praise for A Death in Vegas

"With his tongue planted firmly in cheek, Christopher Meeks spins a charming and surprisingly sexy tale of murder, betrayal, and the importance of beneficial insects." -Mark Haskell Smith, author of Baked and Raw: A Love Story

"I've never, ever wanted to go to Vegas. I don't care if what happens there, stays there. But Christopher Meeks makes me want to go so I can find out who done it. A fun, exciting read, with Chris's usual wonderful writing and great sense of humor." -Jessica Barksdale Inclan, author of Her Daughter's Eyes and How to Bake a Man.

"Christopher Meeks had me at page three. I couldn't wait to find out how Patton Burch was going to explain the naked body he woke up to in his Las Vegas hotel room - first to the cops and then to his wife." -Sam Sattler, Book Chase

Praise for Love Will Make You Drink and Gamble, Stay Out Late at Night

"Shelly Lowenkopf is a gifted, humane story-teller. Love Will Make You Drink and Gamble, Stay Out Late at Night' is a delight."--Aram Saroyan

Christopher Meeks first published short fiction in a number of literary journals, and the stories are available in two collections,The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea and Months and Seasons. His literary novels have received much acclaim. For instance, The Brightest Moon of the Century is a story of a man who yearns for love and success, covering over thirty years—a tale that Marc Schuster of Small Press Reviews describes as “a great and truly humane novel in the tradition of Charles Dickens and John Irving.” Recently, Meeks has focused on crime novels. His first, Blood Drama, has a graduate student in theatre (writing a thesis on David Mamet) in a struggle with a ruthless killer. The new A Death in Vegas is a mystery based on the death of a young woman and the wrong man charged with it. Visit Christopher Meeks online at www.chrismeeks.com.

Shelly Lowenkopf taught in the University of Southern California’s Master of Professional Writing Program for 34 years, has taught at the annual Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference since 1980, and has been guest lecturer in many schools and conferences. He is currently Visiting Professor at the College of Creative Studies, UCSB, with classes in noir fiction, the modern short story, genre fiction, and developing a literary voice. Mr. Lowenkopf has served as editorial director for literary, general trade, mass market, and scholarly book publishers, seeing over 500 books through the editorial and production process. His own short fiction has appeared widely in the literary press.

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Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on September 5th, 2014

The Kitchy Kitchen (Atria Books)

A playful and delicious cookbook, from the host of ABC's "Food for Thought with Claire Thomas" and creator of the much loved food blog "The Kitchy Kitchen."

Every cook needs an arsenal of staples, whether for the perfect dinner party entree to wow a crowd, or throw-it-together lunches for lazy afternoons...but we all know that the real fun comes in making basic recipes your own.The Kitchy Kitchen is tastemaker Claire Thomas's solution for amping up your everyday culinary routine, introducing her approach to her own kitchen: loose, personal, unfussy, and most of all, fun.

With new takes on classic favorites--think adding farmer's market peaches to upgrade a BLT, spicing up tempura cauliflower with a zesty harissa sauce, or transforming basic red velvet cupcakes into decadent pancakes--this cookbook is filled with fresh, produce-driven recipes for every skill set and occasion. It's your best friend and personal chef, all rolled into one. Gorgeously illustrated and peppered with stylish entertaining tips and quirky essays that will inspire you to take the recipes you love and make them new, The Kitchy Kitchen will make your life in the kitchen a little easier, a little more fabulous, and positively delicious.

Praise for The Kitchy Kitchen

"Claire's enthusiasm for food is contagious - her recipes are hard proof that delicious home cooking doesn't have to be overly complicated or fussy. I can't wait to yum, mmm, and wow my way through the entire cookbook."--Erica Chan, Co-Creator Honestly WTF

"Claire has a smile that makes a stranger feel like a welcome friend. Her food is an intentional and indulgent extension of that grace...a true display of a life well eaten and lived."--Joy Wilson, Creator of Joy the Baker

"A wizard at making the kind of food that you really want to eat, Claire's genius recipes are so gloriously good, you'll wonder where she's been all your life."--Hilly Kerr and Katherine Powers, Creators of Who What Wear, Domaine Home, and Byrdie

"It's like she knows exactly what I want in my head and stomach and laid it out page by page."--Aubrey Plaza

Claire Thomas is an unabashed food enthusiast. She works as a nationally recognized commercial director, food photographer, and writer. Her blog, The Kitchy Kitchen (www.thekitchykitchen.com), was an experiment born in 2008 after enduring a more than unsatisfying job after college, and is her much beloved playground. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Claire has turned food into an intellectual and grumbling stomach-driven passion. She has written for many outlets, including The Huffington Post, Daily Candy, Real Simple, Lucky Magazine, and Eater amongst others. 

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Posted in by skylightbooks on September 5th, 2014

Anatomy of A Misfit (Harper Teen)

From bestselling adult novelist Andrea Portes comes her Young Adult debut: Anatomy of a Misfit (Harper Teen), an emotionally resonant story that Publishers Weekly raves is “instantly endearing” with a “highly memorable heroine” and voice.  

Anika is the third most popular girl in her high school--despite feeling she doesn’t fit in with the popular crowd in her small Nebraskan town. To maintain her social status, Anika does whatever Becky Vilhauser (first most popular girl in school) tells her to do. But when loner Logan McDonough returns from summer vacation hotter, and more mysterious than ever, Anika has a hard time staying away--even when Becky forbids her to date him. So Anika must choose--ignore her feelings and keep her social status? Or follow her heart and risk becoming a pariah. Which will she pick? And what will she think of her choice when an unimaginable tragedy strikes, changing her forever? An absolutely original new voice in YA in a story that will start important conversations--and tear at your heart.

Praise for Anatomy of A Misfit

"Anika Dragomir is the funniest, snarkiest, most insightful misfit a reader could ever hope to meet. I laughed my way through Anatomy of a Misfit right up until the very end, when the book broke my heart into a million pieces. This is a beautiful, brave and powerful novel."--Melissa Kantor, author of Maybe One Day and The Breakup Bible

“A self-deprecating and highly memorable heroine . . . . instantly endearing.”-Publishers Weekly STARRED Review 

“Anika’s droll voice shines, and her emotions are palpable.”-School Library Journal  

Andrea Portes is the bestselling novelist of the critically lauded adult novel, Hick. The book was her debut and has since been made into a feature film starring Chloë Grace Moretz, Alec Baldwin, Blake Lively, Eddie Redmayne, and Juliette Lewis. Bury This, her second novel, was published in January 2014 by Soft Skull Press. Anatomy of a Misfit is her third novel, and her first for young adult readers.

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Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on September 5th, 2014

The Lotus and The Storm (Viking Books)

An epic tale of love, loyalty, and war from the acclaimed author of Monkey Bridge.  

Alternating between the voice of Mai, a Vietnamese-American woman and law librarian in the DC area and her father, Minh, a former commander of the airborne brigade in the South Vietnamese army, The Lotus and the Storm transports us to one family’s past in Saigon during the war while at the same time showing us how the drama of what began in Vietnam nearly 40 years previous continues to play out in US Vietnamese refugee communities.  

The book opens in 1963 in Cholon, Saigon’s twin city, where Mai carves out a wondrous existence of innocence shared with her elder sister and a large group of family and friends, including several Chinese business women, U.S. servicemen and even an uncle in the Vietcong who makes secret visits to the family home. Their life is largely tranquil and lush, continuing relatively unaffected by the war until a series of explosive events rock their world, ultimately leading to Mai and her father’s evacuation by U.S. helicopter during the fall of Saigon. 

The story of Mai’s father Minh begins in 2006, when the U.S. is in the thick of another prolonged armed conflict and Minh relives his battles in Saigon, Da Nang, and Hue as the television switches between scenes of fighting in Baghdad and Basra. Day by day, he unravels his life’s story through its most defining moments: from the assassination of President Diem in 1963 to the collapse of South Vietnam in 1975. Each event is punctuated by irreparable personal loss. His is a story of lost innocence, of broken promises, and of sudden reversals in love and war.

Working across a broad and astonishing canvas, Lan Cao has delivered in The Lotus and the Storm a truly epic drama of love, loyalty, and the legacies of war, and offers a rarely heard Vietnamese-American perspective on events that have been central to twentieth-century American history.. 

Praise for The Lotus and The Storm
"The Lotus and the Storm is part beautiful family saga, part coming-of-age story, part love story, but above all a searing indictment of the American campaign in Vietnam and its incalculable toll on generations past and future. A powerful read from start to end."--Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner
"A profoundly moving novel about the shattering effects of war on a young girl, her family, and her country. Lan Cao brings Saigon's past vividly to life through the eyes of Mai, following the girl and her father halfway around the world to a suburb in Virginia, where forty years later, Mai's trauma unravels. In this fractured world where old wars, loves, and losses live on, The Lotus and the Storm is a passionate testament to the truth that the past is the present--inseparable, inescapable, enduring."
--Ruth Ozeki, author of A Tale for the Time Being
"A heartwrenching and heartwarming epic about war and love, hurt and healing, losing and rediscovering homelands. Lan Cao dramatizes landmark battles in the Vietnam War and the toll such battles take on winners and losers. The Lotus and the Storm establishes Lan Cao as a world-class writer."--Bharati Mukherjee, author of Jasmine
"Lan Cao is not only one of the finest of the American writers who sprang from and profoundly understand the war in Vietnam and the Vietnamese diaspora, but also one of our finest American writers, period. The Lotus and the Storm is a brilliant novel that illuminates the human condition shared by us all."--Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
Lan Cao grew up in Saigon and her own father was a high-ranking paratrooper in the South Vietnamese army. In 1975, when South Vietnam was defeated by the Communist North, she was adopted by an American friend of the family and taken out of Vietnam to live with his family in Connecticut until her parents made their way to the US several months later. Lan went to high school in Northern Virginia, and ultimately went on to earn her law degree from Yale. She is now a novelist and a professor at the Dale E. Fowler School of Law at Chapman University in Orange, CA. Her critically acclaimed debut novel, Monkey Bridge, was the first work of fiction published by a major publishing house about the Vietnam War written by a Vietnamese-American and has become a modern classic.
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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