Bo Burnham

Posted in literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on March 31st, 2014
Egghead: Or, You Can't Survive On Ideas Alone (Grand Central Publishing)

Bo Burnham, one of America's most popular young comedians (chosen by Vulture as one of the “50 Comedians You Should and Will Know”) has accomplished quite a lot -- considering he’s only 23-years-old.  With three Comedy Central Records albums and an MTV series under his belt, Bo is no doubt a rising star -- and tonight he brings his award-winning brand of brainy word play to Skylight Books with EGGHEAD: Or, You Can’t Survive on Ideas Alone.

Teaming up with his longtime friend, artist, and illustrator Chance Bone (yes, that is his real name), Bo takes on everything from painful breakups to bald barbers to farts in EGGHEAD. Showcasing Bo’s utterly original voice, this collection of off-kilter writings, poems, and thoughts makes you think, laugh, and then think, “why did I just laugh?” And like his stand-up and music, EGGHEAD displays surprisingly mature insights.

Praise for Egghead: Or, You Can't Survive On Ideas Alone:

"You have to be brave to be this hilarious, and this sweetly romantic. And of course, a lot of talent helps. Egghead is a remarkable piece of writing!"--Jack Handey, author of The Stench of Honolulu and the Deep Thoughts series.

"Like Walt Whitman, Bo Burnham has made the transition from an internet comedy sensation to a soulful poet. No, not that Walt Whitman. A different guy."--Conan O'Brien

"I would love Bo Burnham's hilarious book even if he weren't my son."--Judd Apatow

Bo Burnham was a precocious teenager living in his parents’ attic when he started posting material on YouTube. One hundred million people viewed those videos, turning Bo into an online sensation with a huge and dedicated following. Bo taped his first of two Comedy Central specials four days after his 18th birthday, making him the youngest to do so in the channel’s history (and his new album entitled what. will be released later this year). His MTV series "Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous," a mockumentary which Bo created, wrote, directed, and starred in, premiered in May 2013 to rave reviews.


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Hilton Als

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

White Girls (McSweeney's

White Girls, Hilton Als's first book since The Women fourteen years ago, finds one of "The New Yorker's" boldest cultural critics deftly weaving together his brilliant analyses of literature, art, and music with fearless insights on race, gender, and history. The result is an extraordinary, complex portrait of "white girls," as Als dubs them--an expansive but precise category that encompasses figures as diverse as Truman Capote and Louise Brooks, Malcolm X and Flannery O'Connor. In pieces that hairpin between critique and meditation, fiction and nonfiction, high culture and low, the theoretical and the deeply personal, Als presents a stunning portrait of a writer by way of his subjects, and an invaluable guide to the culture of our time.

Praise for White Girls

“I read Als not only because he is utterly extraordinary, which he is, but for the reason one is often drawn to the best writers—because one has a sense that one’s life might depend on them. White Girls is a book, a dream, an enemy, a friend, and, yes, the read of the year.” —Junot Díaz

“Hilton Als takes the reader on a wild ride through the complex, often rough, terrain of art, music, sexuality, race. What he writes—especially about Michael Jackson, Eminem, Louise Brooks, Richard Pryor, Gone With the Wind—is riveting.” —Elaine Pagels

“Effortless, honest and fearless” ––Rich Benjamin, The New York Times Book Review

“Captivating.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Als is one of the most consistently unpredictable and surprising essayists out there, an author who confounds our expectations virtually every time he writes.” —Los Angeles Times

“A comprehensive and utterly lovely collection of one of the best writers around.” —Boston Globe

“Als’ work is so much more than simply writing about being black or gay or smart. It’s about being human.” —Kirkus (Starred Review)

“Mesmerizing.” —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“Als is pyrotechnic, lifting off the page in a blast of stinging light and concussive booms that somehow coalesce into profound cultural and psychological illuminations.” —Booklist

“Incisive cultural criticism.” —Roxane Gay, The Nation

“[Hilton] Als interweaves personal revelation with cultural touchstones, sometimes hopping from topic to topic at a breakneck speed, other times examining concepts so strategically and methodically his words become scalpels, flaying open unacknowledged bias, privilege, and conflict where he sees it.” —The A.V. Club

Hilton Als became a staff writer at The New Yorker in October, 1994, and a theatre critic in 2002. He began contributing to the magazine in 1989, writing pieces for The Talk of the Town. Before coming to The New Yorker, Als was a staff writer for the Village Voice and an editor-at-large at Vibe. He has also written articles for The Nation
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Nicholson Baker

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

Traveling Sprinkler (Blue Rider Press)

We're very excited to host acclaimed and best-selling novelist Nicholson Baker (The MezzanineThe Anthologist, House of Holes) at Skylight for his new novel, Traveling Sprinkler!  Baker will be in conversation with Los Angeles Times book critic (and author himself) David Ulin.

As with all Skylight Books events, this discussion 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, you must purchase a copy of Traveling Sprinkler here at Skylight Books.  The tickets will be available starting Tuesday, September 17, when the book goes on sale.  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.  There's no limit on the number of copies of Traveling Sprinker you can get signed, but we are limiting the number of backlist titles to three per ticket holder.  Thank you for your cooperation!

Paul Chowder, the poet protagonist of Nicholson Baker’s widely acclaimed novel The Anthologist, is turning fifty-five and missing his ex-girlfriend Roz rather desperately. As he approaches the dreaded birthday, Paul is uninspired by his usual artistic outlet (although he’s pleased that his poetry anthology, Only Rhyme, is selling “fairly well in a steady sort of way”).  Putting aside poetry in favor of music, and drawing on his classical bassoon training, Paul turns instead to his new acoustic guitar with one goal in mind: to learn songwriting. As he struggles to come to terms with the horror of America’s drone wars and Roz’s recent relationship with a doctor whose voice can often be heard on a local NPR station, Paul fills his days with Quaker meetings, Planet Fitness workouts, and some experiments with tobacco. 

Written in Baker’s beautifully unconventional prose, and scored with musical influences from Debussy to Tracy Chapman to Paul himself, Traveling Sprinkler is an enchanting, hilarious—and very necessary—novel by one of the most beloved and influential writers today.

The author has recorded an album of songs in the style of his protagonist.  Check one out here!


Nicholson Baker was born in New York City in 1957 and grew up in Rochester, where he played bassoon in high school and spent a year at the Eastman School of Music before transferring to Haverford College. His first novel, The Mezzanine, was about a man riding an escalator.  His second novel, Room Temperature, was about a man feeding a bottle to his baby.  In his many other works of fiction and nonfiction, he has written about John Updike, about getting up early in the morning, about the inner life of a nine-year-old girl, about the beginnings of the Second World War, and about sex. His book Double Fold, about libraries shedding their paper holdings, won a National Book Critics Circle Award.  His poet protagonist Paul Chowder, who first appeared in The Anthologist, is reintroduced in the forthcoming Traveling Sprinkler, his tenth novel, and fifteenth book overall.  He lives in Maine with his family.

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Aimee Bender

Posted in by skylightbooks on February 17th, 2014

The Color Master (Doubleday)

One of Skylight Books' favorite authors returns with a fabulous new short story collection! You're not going to want to miss this reading.

Truly beloved by readers and critics alike, Aimee Bender has become known as something of an enchantress whose lush prose is “moving, fanciful, and gorgeously strange” (People), “richly imagined and bittersweet” (Vanity Fair), and “full of provocative ideas” (The Boston Globe). In her deft hands, “relationships and mundane activities take on mythic qualities” (The Wall Street Journal).

In this collection, Bender’s unique talents sparkle brilliantly in stories about people searching for connection through love, sex, and family—while navigating the often painful realities of their lives. A traumatic event unfolds when a girl with flowing hair of golden wheat appears in an apple orchard, where a group of people await her. A woman plays out a prostitution fantasy with her husband and finds she cannot go back to her old sex life. An ugly woman marries an ogre and struggles to decide if she should stay with him after he mistakenly eats their children. Two sisters travel deep into Malaysia, where one learns the art of mending tigers who have been ripped to shreds.

In these deeply resonant stories—evocative, funny, beautiful, and sad—we see ourselves reflected as if in a funhouse mirror. Aimee Bender has once again proven herself to be among the most imaginative, exciting, and intelligent writers of our time.

Praise for Aimee Bender

"Marvelous. . . . Few writers are as adept as Bender at mingling magical elements so seamlessly with the ordinary." "--San Francisco Chronicle

AIMEE BENDER is the author of the novels The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake—a New York Times bestseller—and An Invisible Sign of My Own, and of the collections The Girl in the Flammable Skirt and Willful Creatures. Her works have been widely anthologized and have been translated into sixteen languages. She lives in Los Angeles.

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Bukowski Anthology

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

The Silver Birch Press Bukowski Anthology is a 200+ page collection of poetry, essays, stories, and memoirs about Charles Bukowski, along with portraits of Bukowski by over seventy authors and artists from around the world. 

S.A. Griffin, co-editor of The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, progenitor of The Poetry Bomb and the Carma Bums, lives, loves and works in Los Angeles.

Joan Jobe Smith, founding editor of Pearl Magazine and the Bukowski Review, has published 25 books, most recently the literary profile Charles Bukowski Epic Glottis: His Art & His Women (& me) (Silver Birch Press, 2012).

Fred Voss, a machinist for 35 years, has been published internationally in hundreds of literary journals and has done seven reading tours of the UK to promote his books published by Bloodaxe: Goodstone (1991, Carnegie Hall with Tin Walls(1998), and 2008's Hearts and Hammers of the Gods. He was a 2013 winner of the Nerve Cowboy chapbook competition.

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Fairy Tale Comics

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

Fairy Tale Comics: Classic Tales Told By Extraordinary Cartoonists (First Second Books)

Join us as Vanessa Davis ("Puss in Boots"), Gigi D.G. ("Little Red Riding Hood") and Bobby London ("Sweet Porridge") discuss their contributions to this fantastic guide to some of your favorite fairy tales.

From favorites like "Puss in Boots" and "Goldilocks" to obscure gems like "The Boy Who Drew Cats," this volume has something to offer every reader. Seventeen fairy tales are wonderfully adapted and illustrated in comics format by such noted artists as Raina Telgemeier, Brett Helquist, Cherise Harper, and others. Edited by Nursery Rhyme Comics' Chris Duffy, this jacketed hardcover is a beautiful gift and an instant classic.

Praise for Fairy Tale Comics:

"A quirky and vibrant mix of visually reinterpreted fairy tales compiled by the editor of the Eisner-nominated Nursery Rhyme Comics."-- Kirkus Reviews

"Nineteen cartoonists re-envision the world of “once upon a time” in this collection of 17 fairy tales . . .These adaptations are sure to enchant devotees of comics and those who like a fresh and distinctive approach to fairy tales." -- School Library Journal

Vanessa Davis' first book, Spaniel Rage was published by Buenaventura Press in 2005. Her newest book, Make Me A Woman, was published by Drawn & Quarterly. Her work has been featured in The New York TimesNew York MagazinePsychology TodayDissent, The Jewish Daily ForwardSaveurLucky PeachViceSpongebob Comics, Seven Stories Press, Chronicle Books, and First Second. She is also a contributing editor over at Tablet.

Gigi D.G. is the writer/illustrator of Cucumber Quest. She lives in California and her passions are colors, sweets and cute video games.

Bobby London is the creator of the comic strip character Dirty Duck. He was a founding contributor for National Lampoonfrom 1972-1980. His illustrations have appeared in Esquire, Rolling Stone, New York Times, Punk Magazine, Village Voice and many more. He was nominated for a grammy in 2005 for his comic book insert in the Rhino Records box set, "Weird Tales of the Ramones."

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John Dufrense

Posted in literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on February 17th, 2014
No Regrets, Coyote (W.W. Norton)

No Regrets, Coyote, the latest offering from acclaimed novelist John Dufresne, is a crime story, but Wylie “Coyote” Melville is no detective. A therapist by trade, the highly observant and analytical Wylie becomes a volunteer forensic consultant late one Christmas Eve when he receives a phone call from his friend Detective Sergeant Carlos O’Brien of the Eden Police Department, requesting his immediate assistance on a fresh homicide case. Wylie has an innate ability to take in a scene and provide it with narrative structure—Carlos calls him a mind reader, but that’s not exactly right. “I read faces and furniture,” Wylie explains. “I can look at a person, at his expressions, his gestures, his clothing, his home, and his possessions, and tell you what he thinks, if not always what he’s thinking.”

Wylie arrives at the scene of the crime, the Halliday home, to discover that all five members of the Halliday family have been brutally killed. Krysia Halliday is found on the kitchen floor with her head against the open oven door, apparently shot while baking cookies; her three pajama-clad children lie in the den amid a pile of partially opened Christmas gifts, each with a blindfold over the eyes and a bullet hole in the forehead; and the patriarch, restaurateur Chafin Halliday, his face nearly blown apart, is slumped nearby, not far from the murder weapon. A typed suicide note alluding to unnamed failures rests ominously on the kitchen table. The cops have it pegged as a murder-suicide at the hands of a desperate Chafin, but that explanation doesn’t quite add up for Wylie. Who types a signature on a suicide note? Why wrap expensive Christmas gifts for a family you’re about to dispatch? And why are there so few family photographs in the Halliday household?

In this smart and utterly absorbing thriller, Dufresne masterfully introduces a host of quirky, realistic, three-dimensional characters. The effect is a carefully crafted character study of Wylie himself, as we get to know his motivations, his thought processes, and his limitations. No Regrets, Coyote is a dazzlingly intricate mystery that elevates the genre with its pointed insights into the workings of the human mind.

Praise for No Regrets, Coyote:

No Regrets, Coyote is a very cool ride. If Raymond Chandler was reincarnated as a novelist in South Florida, he couldn’t nail it any better than John Dufresne.” —Carl Hiaasen

No Regrets, Coyote is a novel so good you want to throw a party for it. It’s tense, unnerving, fearless, and funny as hell. Beautifully rendered on every page, it may be a crime novel in name but it’s literature for the ages.” —Dennis Lehane

“If anyone has a vision of the world as compellingly particular and compassionate as John Dufresne’s, I don't know who. No Regrets, Coyote takes noir fiction and slivers it with shards of humor, ironic insight, and an almost hallucinogenic specificity. This is lean and honest storytelling that is as moving as it is engaging. Read this book. Believe me, you’ll have no regrets!” —Andre Dubus III

“Genuinely funny, genuinely suspenseful crime novels are rare, but No Regrets, Coyote succeeds on both counts. John Dufresne’s hilariously dark vision of South Florida brings to mind the work of such masters as Donald Westlake and Elmore Leonard. It’s a lurid pleasure from beginning to end.” —Tom Perrotta

“Get ready to read this one twice, people—once to see what happens, and again to savor the sentences. Here, American treasure John Dufresne has written a noir, but instead of playing by the rules of noir, he makes noir play by the Rules of Dufresne. And we are the beneficiaries. So sit back, put a cooler of beer by your chair, and settle in, you’ll be here awhile:No Regrets, Coyote is impossible to close.” —Tom Franklin

“John Dufresne has turned his considerable artistic gifts to the crime novel, and the result, No Regrets, Coyote, is touching, nervy, richly detailed, and populated with a cast of characters who are utterly unique and terrifyingly real. Its humor is abundant and warm-hearted, and its detective hero is unlike any we’ve ever met before. American crime fiction has just gotten a lot more interesting.” —James W. Hall

“The ordinary crime novel narrows as it goes, the possibilities limited by deductive reasoning. But John Dufresne’s No Regrets, Coyote is an extraordinary novel, expanding until anything seems possible and everyone connects. Steeped in place, wholly original, it is, line by line, one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.” —Laura Lippman

John Dufresne is the author of seven books, including New York Times Notable Books Love Warps the Mind a Little andLouisiana Power & Light. He lives in Dania Beach and teaches creative writing at Florida International University.

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Kevin West

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

Saving the Season (Knopf Publishing Group) 

A stylish, richly illustrated, practical guide for home cooks and preserving enthusiasts, the first cookbook from journalist Kevin West, author of the popular blog 

Incorporating classic favorites and new flavors, West gives us more than one hundred recipes, organized by season, for sweet preserves and savory pickles; easy-to-can vegetables and fruits; condiments such as relishes, chutneys, and salsas; and cordials, candies, and cocktails. Interspersed with the recipes are chronicles of West's travels and the history of American preserving traditions from California to New Mexico to Long Island. A witty and erudite culinary companion, West makes a rich and entertaining story of the introductions to the recipes. Also included is a primer on preserving techniques that addresses issues of food safety and nutrition. 

KEVIN WEST is from rural Blount County in eastern Tennessee. He attended Deep Springs, an experimental college in the White Mountains of California, and Sewanee: The University of the South. For 13 years he was on staff at W magazine, with postings in New York, Paris, and Los Angeles, where he was West Coast editor and where he still lives. He runs the blog; writes about food, culture, and travel; and produces a retail collection of jams and marmalades. He is certified as a Master Food Preserver by the University of California Cooperative Extension.

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Santa Monica Review Launch Party

Posted in literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on January 21st, 2014

Join us tonight for a reading from the latest issue of Santa Monica Review, one of Southern California's most revered literary journals. SMR editor Andrew Tonkovich will be introducing three of the contributors to the 2013 fall issue. 

Andrew Nicholls began writing for radio, stage, syndicated cartoonists and TV in high school in Ontario, Canada. In his twenties he staffed The Tonight Show for six years, four of them as Johnny Carson's head writer and, with his writing partner Darrell Vickers, has created or staffed over 100 sitcoms, children's and animated series, thanks to which he has a 2005 memoir, Valuable Lessons, about failed television. He has recent humor in McSweeney's Internet Tendency and Los Angeles Review of Books and short fiction upcoming in Black Clock, Kugelmass and the teacher's resource site Literature For Life.

g. c. cunningham, a UCLA graduate, lives in Los Angeles, sometimes working in film post-production, other times in Birmingham, Alabama, state of origin. His fiction is printed in Bat City Review, Cutbank, Denver Quarterly, Fiction International, Portland Review, Texas Review and  Western Humanities Review. Google him for selections online at Eclectica, Fringe, Potomac Review and McSweeney's. "My First Marine Corps Essay" won 2nd place in Fringe's 2012 flash fiction contest judged by Steve Almond.

Ryan Ridgeis the author of the story collection Hunters & Gamblers, the poetry collection Ox, as well as the chapbooks Hey, it's American and 22nd Century Man. His work has appeared in Tin House, McSweeney's Small Chair, The Southern California Review, The Mississippi Review, The Los Angeles Review, Hobart, Consequence, and elsewhere. Managing editor at Juked Magazine, he writes and teaches in Southern California.

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Patricia Engel

Posted in literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on January 21st, 2014
It's Not Love, It's Just Paris (Grove Press)

Join us as Patricia Engel reads from her debut novel It's Not Love, It's Just Paris, a vibrant, wistful narrative about an American girl in Paris, who navigates the intoxicating and treacherous complexities of independence, friendship, and romance.

Lita del Cielo, the daughter of two Colombian orphans who arrived in America with nothing and made a fortune with their Latin food empire, has been granted one year to pursue her studies in Paris before she must return to work in the family business. She moves into a gently crumbling Left Bank mansion known as “The House of Stars,” where a spirited but bedridden Countess Séraphine rents out rooms to young women visiting Paris to work, study, and, unofficially, to find love.

Cautious and guarded, Lita keeps a cool distance from the other girls, who seem at once boldly adult and impulsively naïve, who both intimidate and fascinate her. Then Lita meets Cato, and the contours of her world shift. Charming, enigmatic, and weak with illness, Cato is the son of a notorious right-wing politician. As Cato and Lita retreat to their own world, they soon find it difficult to keep the outside world from closing in on theirs. Ultimately Lita must decide whether to stay in France with Cato or return home to fulfill her immigrant family’s dreams for her future.

Praise for Patricia Engel:

“With unsparing psychological precision . . . Engel has fashioned . . . an arresting voice: immediate, unsentimental, and disarmingly direct.”Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Patricia Engel’s short story collection, Vida, a The New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year, established her as one of this country’s best young writers, winning praise from Junot Díaz, Uzodinma Iweala, Francisco Goldman, and others. She has been widely published and has won numerous awards, including the Boston Review Fiction Prize.  She lives and teaches in Miami, Florida.

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Michael Woodworth Fuller

Posted in literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on January 20th, 2014
Legacy (Event Horizon Press)

Combining scintillating prose and poetry, Legacy examines the effects of war on soliders, their families and their communities and looks at the affirmation required for the human spirit to transcend despair. It is a book about the legacy of war for those who remain. Legacy is sure to remain with you long after you've closed the final page.

Praise for Legacy:

"Fuller pretty much eschews literary rules and conventions and, rather cleverly and clandestinely, stitches into his tightly-wound nightmarish narrative all of the essential elements of the classic novel form: a plot that rushes forward ruthlessly; a deep and richly purified character study of a man inundated in a tsunami of existentialism -- ending in a bone-crushing Cri de Coeur; and a commanding, pitiless consciousness that gnaws on the broken carcass of the reader's assumptions, if not his flesh, long after the book has been read."--Warren John Deacon, writer, director, teacher

"When you read this book, be prepared to be challenged. You will be challenged with word choice and you will be challenged to pay attention to every line. You can never drop your guard. This is not a light book."--Barb Cowles, writer, editor, publisher

Michael Woodworth Fuller is a diverse writer, having written poems, dramas, historical non-fiction, film and television. He wrote for the Promo Department at CBS-TV, particularly for Mission Impossible, Hogan's Heroes, The Andy Griffith Show, andGomer Pyle. He free-lanced for television with Alan J. Levitt and scripted several independent films, prominent among themPeace for a Gunfighter. In poetry, Michael has two published poems in the Library of American Poets"Darryl" and"Firewood." While spending most of his time on Legacy, he wrote ISOMATA: The Place and its People, a history of the Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts, now known as Idyllwild Arts. Forthcoming after Legacy is Five!, a volume of short stories also to be published by Event Horizon Press.

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William Friedkin

Posted in literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on January 15th, 2014
The Friedkin Connection (Harper)

With such seminal movies as The Exorcist and The French Connection, Academy Award–winning director William Friedkin earned his place in the pantheon of great filmmakers. A maverick from the start, Friedkin joined other young directors such as Francis Ford Coppola and Peter Bogdanovich in ushering in Hollywood’s second Golden Age in the 1970s. His long-awaited memoir, The Friedkin Connection, provides a candid portrait of an extraordinary life and career, offers a window into the rarified world of Hollywood and reveals all of the decisions—technical, artistic, and business—he confronted in crafting his distinctive and landmark films.

The Friedkin Connection takes readers on a journey through the numerous chance encounters and unplanned occurrences that led a young man from a poor urban neighborhood to success in one of the most competitive industries and art forms in the world. With keen wit and intellect, Friedkin proves as gifted a storyteller on the page as he is on the screen, taking readers from the streets of Chicago to the executive suites of Hollywood, from star-studded movie sets to the precision of the editing room.

Readers get delicious behind-the-scenes accounts of the making of all of Friedkin’s film, from the casting of The French Connection (Friedkin considered everyone from Jackie Gleason to journalist Jimmy Breslin for the role of Popeye, before settling on Gene Hackman) and the painstaking process of filming the famous chase scene on the subway and on the streets of New York City, to the dramas that ensued during the filming of The Exorcist (how Friedkin happened upon the now-famous “Tubular Bells” score after firing two composers; how Mercedes McCambridge went about creating the voice of the demon—and how she probably ruined Linda Blair’s chances at winning the Oscar). These accounts read like page-turners, but they also reveal a filmmaker at the height of his craft, a true artist who learned as he went along and wasn’t afraid of taking risks.

Still an influential filmmaker—his acclaimed 2011 movie, Killer Joe, starred Matthew McConaughey—William Friedkin has much to say about the world of movie making and his place in it. As fast-paced and thrilling as his acclaimed movies, The Friedkin Connection is a wonderfully cinematic look at an artist and an industry that has transformed who we are—and how we see ourselves.

“Friedkin’s book does the unthinkable: It relates the behind-the-scenes stories of his triumphs like The French Connection andThe Exorcist, but also sees Friedkin take responsibility (brutally so) for his wrong calls, like Sorcerer and Cruising. In doing so, he captures the gut-wrenching shifts of a filmmaker’s life — the bizarre whipsaw from success to disaster.”
—Peter Bart, Variety

“Enthralling. . . . Hardcore film geeks will salivate over this time capsule from a grateful and still-brilliant legend.” —Booklist

“For aspiring directors, a glimpse into the school of hard knocks, but there’s plenty of good stuff, lean and well-written, for civilian film fans, too.” —Kirkus Reviews

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Rebecca Solnit

Posted in literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on January 15th, 2014
The Faraway Nearby (Viking Books)

Rebecca Solnit is an award-winning author whose distinctive voice has earned her much praise; the San Francisco Chronicle described her as “who Susan Sontag might have become if Sontag had never forsaken California for Manhattan.” Her exquisite new book, THE FARAWAY NEARBY, is set in motion with a gift of one hundred pounds of ripening apricots, which come from a neglected tree her mother could no longer attend to. The story of the fruit serves as a gateway for Solnit to relate intimate details about her own life, from the history of her complicated and tempestuous relationship with her mother, now suffering from memory loss, to an unexpected invitation to visit Iceland, to her own medical emergency. 

An exploration of the way we make our lives out of stories, the book is a powerful call to reinvent memoir.  Solnit does so by redefining the self, braiding together a story that is as much about how the self extends into the world through empathy and imagination and the stories that sustained her as it is about her own life during a difficult year. THE FARAWAY NEARBY speaks to storytelling structures and is formally inventive itself:  the book is fitted together like a Russian doll, with stories within stories and chapter titles that repeat. Stitching together the entire narrative is a fourteenth chapter that runs like a connecting thread throughout the whole book.

Solnit relates a story of the T’ang Dynasty artist Wu Dazoi in which he is imprisoned by the Emperor and escapes through his own painting.  Stories, she writes, are like this magical painting – containing entire worlds for a reader to disappear into. Her personal stories serve both as doorways into other narratives which she immersed herself in during this time (from fairy tales to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein), and as entry points into the lives of others, from the young Che Guevara learning empathy among the leprosy-afflicted to an Arctic traveler who survived by eating her frozen children and a blues musician who cured himself of drinking by the stories he told. 

A fitting companion  to her much-loved  A Field Guide to Getting LostTHE FARAWAY NEARBY is a dazzling book about the magic and power of storytelling, the imaginative essence of empathy, and the forces that bring us together and keep us distant.

Rebecca Solnit is the author of twelve books, including A Paradise Built in Hell, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Wanderlust,and River of Shadows, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and Mark Lynton History Prize. The recipient of a Lannan Literary Award, she lives in San Francisco.


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Brett Martin

Posted in literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on October 21st, 2013
Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From the Sopranos and the Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad  (Penguin Press)

 A riveting and revealing look at the shows that helped cable television drama emerge as the signature art form of the twenty-first century.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the landscape of television began an unprecedented transformation. While the networks continued to chase the lowest common denominator, a wave of new shows, first on premium cable channels like HBO and then basic cable networks like FX and AMC, dramatically stretched television's narrative inventiveness, emotional resonance, and artistic ambition. No longer necessarily concerned with creating always-likable characters, plots that wrapped up neatly every episode, or subjects that were deemed safe and appropriate, shows such as The Wire, The Sopranos, Mad Men, Deadwood, The Shield, and more tackled issues of life and death, love and sexuality, addiction, race, violence, and existential boredom. Just as the Big Novel had in the 1960s and the subversive films of New Hollywood had in 1970s, television shows became the place to go to see stories of the triumph and betrayals of the American Dream at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

This revolution happened at the hands of a new breed of auteur: the all-powerful writer-show runner. These were men nearly as complicated, idiosyncratic, and "difficult" as the conflicted protagonists that defined the genre. Given the chance to make art in a maligned medium, they fell upon the opportunity with unchecked ambition.

Combining deep reportage with cultural analysis and historical context, Brett Martin recounts the rise and inner workings of a genre that represents not only a new golden age for TV but also a cultural watershed. Difficult Men features extensive interviews with all the major players, including David Chase (The Sopranos), David Simon and Ed Burns (The Wire), Matthew Weiner and Jon Hamm (Mad Men), David Milch (NYPD Blue, Deadwood), and Alan Ball (Six Feet Under), in addition to dozens of other writers, directors, studio executives, actors, production assistants, makeup artists, script supervisors, and so on. Martin takes us behind the scenes of our favorite shows, delivering never-before-heard story after story and revealing how cable TV has distinguished itself dramatically from the networks, emerging from the shadow of film to become a truly significant and influential part of our culture.

Praise for Difficult Men:

"The new golden age of television drama--addictive, dark, suspenseful, complex, morally murky--finally gets the insanely readable chronicle it deserves in Brett Martin's Difficult Men . . . Here, at last, is the real story, and it's a lot more exciting than the version that gets told in Emmy acceptance speeches."
--Mark Harris, author of Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood

"This book taught me a thing or two about how a few weird executives enabled a handful of weirder writers to make shows I still can't believe were on TV. But what I found more interesting--and disturbing--is how it helped me understand why an otherwise lily-livered, civic-minded nice girl like me wants to curl up with a bunch of commandment-breaking, Constitution-trampling psychos--and that's just the cops."
--Sarah Vowell

"Any addict of the new 'golden' television (or extended narratives on premium cable) will love this book. Along the way, it is also one of the smartest books about American television ever written. So don't be surprised if that great creator, David Chase (of (The Sopranos), comes out as a mix of Rodney Dangerfield and Hamlet."
--David Thompson

Brett Martin has been reporting and writing non-fiction for more than fifteen years. He’s contributed to Vanity Fair, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Esquire, Food and Wine, Details, Men’s Journal and O: The Oprah Magazine, and is a frequent contributor to This American Life. He is currently a Contributor to GQ


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Chuck Klosterman

Posted in by skylightbooks on October 21st, 2013
I Wear The Black Hat (Scribner Book Company)

 From New York Times bestselling author, "one of America's top cultural critics" (Entertainment Weekly), and "The Ethicist" for The New York Times Magazine, comes a new book of all original pieces on villains and villainy.

Chuck Klosterman has walked into the darkness. As a boy, he related to the cultural figures who represented goodness--but as an adult, he found himself unconsciously aligning with their enemies. This was not because he necessarily liked what they were doing; it was because they were doing it on purpose (and they were doing it better). They wanted to be evil. And what, exactly, was that supposed to mean? When we classify someone as a bad person, what are we really saying (and why are we so obsessed with saying it)? In I Wear the Black Hat, Klosterman questions the very nature of how modern people understand the concept of villainy. What was so Machiavellian about Machiavelli? Why don't we see Batman the same way we see Bernhard Goetz? Who's more worthy of our vitriol--Bill Clinton or Don Henley? What was O.J. Simpson's second-worst decision? And why is Klosterman still obsessed with some kid he knew for one week in 1985?

Masterfully blending cultural analysis with self-interrogation and limitless imagination, I Wear the Black Hat delivers perceptive observations on the complexity of the anti-hero (seemingly the only kind of hero America still creates). I Wear the Black Hat is the rare example of serious criticism that's instantly accessible and really, really funny. Klosterman is the only writer doing whatever it is he's doing.

Chuck Klosterman is the New York Times bestselling author of seven previous books, including Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs; Eating the Dinosaur; Killing Yourself to Live; and The Visible Man. His debut book, Fargo Rock City, was the winner of the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award. He has written for GQ, Esquire, Spin, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Believer, and The Onion A.V. Club. He currently serves as “The Ethicist” for the New York Times Magazine and writes about sports and popular culture for ESPN. 


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