ALINE OHANESIAN reads from her debut novel ORHAN’S INHERITANCE

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on April 26th, 2015

Orhan's Inheritance (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill)

 In her extraordinary debut, Aline Ohanesian has created two remarkable characters--a young man ignorant of his family's and his country's past, and an old woman haunted by the toll the past has taken on her life.

When Orhan's brilliant and eccentric grandfather Kemal--a man who built a dynasty out of making "kilim" rugs--is found dead, submerged in a vat of dye, Orhan inherits the decades-old business. But Kemal's will raises more questions than it answers. He has left the family estate to a stranger thousands of miles away, an aging woman in an Armenian retirement home in Los Angeles. Her existence and secrecy about her past only deepen the mystery of why Orhan's grandfather willed his home in Turkey to an unknown woman rather than to his own son or grandson. Left with only Kemal's ancient sketchbook and intent on righting this injustice, Orhan boards a plane to Los Angeles. There he will not only unearth the story that eighty-seven-year-old Seda so closely guards but discover that Seda's past now threatens to unravel his future. Her story, if told, has the power to undo the legacy upon which his family has been built. Moving back and forth in time, between the last years of the Ottoman Empire and the 1990s, Orhan's Inheritance is a story of passionate love, unspeakable horrors, incredible resilience, and the hidden stories that can haunt a family for generations.

Praise for Orhan's Inheritance:

"Aline Ohanesian draws from her family's own dark history to create a tender, powerful story of love and reclamation.Orhan's Inheritance is a breathtaking and expansive work of historical fiction and proof that the past can sometimes rewrite the future." --Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan Train

“A harrowing tale of unimaginable sacrifice...A novel that delves into the darkest corners of human history and emerges with a tenuous sense of hope.” – Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“To take the tumultuous history of Turks and Armenians in the early part of this century, and to tell the stories of families and lovers from the small everyday moments of life to the terrible journeys of death, to make a novel so engrossing and keep us awake - that is an accomplishment, and Aline Ohanesian's first novel is such a wonderful accomplishment.” - Susan Straight, author of Highwire Moon

“Readers who were moved by the work of Carol Edgarian, Mark Mustian, and Nancy Kricorian will appreciate the historical authenticity and passion that Aline Ohanesian brings to this story of the Armenian Genocide. Orhan’s Inheritance is heartfelt and sincere.”— Chris Bohjalian, author of The Sandcastle Girls

“From its first startling image, Orhan's Inheritance will seep under your skin and leave an indelible mark upon your heart. What lucky readers we are to inherit Aline Ohanesian’s gorgeous work.” —Gayle Brandeis, author of Delta Girls

“Orhan's Inheritance is a remarkable debut from an important new voice. It tells us things we thought we knew and shows us we had no idea. Beautiful and terrible and, finally, indelible.” – Luis Alberto Urrea, author of Queen of America

Aline Ohanesian's great-grandmother was a survivor of the Armenian Genocide. Her history was the kernel for the story that Ohanesian tells in her first novel, Orhan's Inheritance. Ohanesian was a finalist for the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Fiction and "Glimmer Train"'s Short Story Award for New Writers. Born in Northridge, California, she lives and writes in San Juan Capistrano, California, with her husband and two young sons. Her website is

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Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on April 26th, 2015

So You've Been Publicly Shamed (Riverhead Books)

 From the internationally bestselling author of The Psychopath Test, a captivating and brilliant exploration of one of our world's most overlooked forces.

Now in So You've Been Publicly Shamed, Ronson investigates the world of public shaming, where social media has made everyone a vigilante and where a poorly phrased tweet or comment can catapult a person to Public Enemy No. 1 overnight. Shaming moves with lighting speed and has a terrifyingly powerful effect, sometimes destroying a person’s entire life. In his inimitable “Ronsonian” style, Jon Ronson follows up with those whose lives have been left in tatters, and questions those being most cruel in the anonymous internet playground, resulting in a powerful and very humane dispatch from the front line of the escalating war on human nature and its flaws.

As Ronson says of his meeting with the recipient of one shaming, “Over the years I’ve sat across tables from a lot of people whose lives have been destroyed. Usually the people who did the destroying were the government, or the military, or big business. This felt like the first person I had ever interviewed who had been destroyed by us.”

Ronson’s “hilarious and unsettling” (Boston Globe) storytelling has made him a favorite of readers & critics alike. He is a regular on This American Life and critics have deemed his work “beguiling” (New York Times), “both terrifying and hilarious” (O, The Oprah Magazine) and “entertaining and alarming in equal parts” (Kirkus).  And Salon praised: “Ronson’s touch is light and he’s not afraid to play the feckless neurotic for laughs, but that doesn't obscure the serious questions raise by his investigations.” It is this deft mix of comedy and rigorous reporting that make Ronson’s work equal parts entertainment and essential reading and he is at the height of his powers in this new book.

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CECILIA WOLOCH reads from her novella SUR LA ROUTE

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on April 8th, 2015

Sur La Route (Quale Press)

 Please welcome back to Skylight Books, local poet Cecilia Woloch!

Sur la Route is a novella in postcard-like vignettes — a series of brief, vivid, poetic episodes that trace the path of a disaffected American woman “on the road” in France and western Europe. It’s the winter of 1994 and she’s fled the blandness of Los Angeles for Paris, carrying with her only a list of the names of friends-of-friends, a couple of battered suitcases and a longing to be part of a more sensual, nuanced, mysterious world. She moves breathlessly through that world, the peripatetic rhythm of events mirrored in the restless, lyrical narrative. Along the way, she falls in love with a man, a woman, a city, a way of being in the world, and her own life. By turns sexy, intriguing, and passionate, her experiences require her to open her own heart as widely as possible, even (and always) at the risk of breaking it.

Cecilia Woloch is the author of six collections of poems, most recently Carpathia (BOA Editions 2009)and Tzigane, le poème Gitan (Scribe-l’Harmattan 2014), the French translation of her second book, Tsigan: The Gypsy Poem. The text of Tsigan has also been adapted for multi-media performances in the U.S. and Europe. Her novella, Sur la Route, a finalist for the Colony Collapse Prize, is being published by Quale Press in 2015, along with a new collection of poems, Earth, winner of the Two Sylvias Press Prize for the chapbook. Other honors include The Indiana Review Prize for Poetry, The New Ohio Review Prize for Poetry, the Scott Russell Sanders Prize for Creative Nonfiction, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, CEC/ArtsLink International, Chateau de la Napoule Foundation, the Center for International Theatre Development and others. Her work has been translated and published in French, German, Polish and Ukrainian. The founding director of Summer Poetry in Idyllwild and The Paris Poetry Workshop, she has also served on the faculties of a number of creative writing programs and teaches independently throughout the U.S. and around the world.

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CHRIS TARRY reads from his new short story collection HOW TO CARRY BIGFOOT HOME and MARK E. CULL reads from his novel THE KING OF THE SEA MONKEYS

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on April 8th, 2015

How to Cary Bigfoot Home (Red Hen Press) The King of the Sea Monkeys (Guernica Editions)

 The thirteen stories in Chris Tarry's richly imagined debut, How To Carry Bigfoot Home, lay bare the insurmountable forces that determine who we are and who we become. From an out-of-work dragon-slaying father in "Here Be Dragons" to a family arguing aboard a rocket ship in "Topics in Advanced Rocketry," the stories use fantastic settings, blazing wit, and imaginative circumstances to explore very human truths. The stories work to reconcile the public self with the private heart. To contemplate the monsters we carry home and lay bare for the ones we love the most.

Praise for How to Carry Bigfoot Home:

“Chris Tarry’s stories come at what we might call The Problem of Men as Boys from all possible angles, from a hapless medieval stay-at-home Dad who’s running a con game out of his one-room hovel to a Bigfoot who’s a sad failure as a creative writing teacher. These stories hilariously and poignantly evoke the way, when it comes to relationships, all men are living under a leaky thatched roof with winter on the way, always believing they’re on the edge of a turnaround, even though failure keeps returning like an old friend back in town.” —Jim Shepard, Story Prize–winning author of You Think That’s Bad and Project X 

“What would happen if some mad scientist were able to fuse the otherworldly exuberance of H.P. Lovecraft with the nuanced pathos of John Cheever? The result would be a dazzling, explosive, and inexhaustible new kind of illumination: a writer named Chris Tarry.” —Stefan Merrill Block, author of The Story of Forgetting and The Storm at the Door

. . . 

Mark E. Cull's The King of the Sea Monkeys is a novel in two parts. Because the protagonist suffers from a traumatic brain injury, the first part is fragmented, finding its way in the larger narrative in disorderly pieces. The novel is centered on a young high school teacher living a fairly normal life. This life disintegrates when he is involved in a shooting at a convenience store. He survives but his world is undone. Issues of traumatic brain injury are examined and the existence of God comes into question. We find ourselves asking what the framework of a real life is.

Praise for King of the Sea Monkeys:

The King of the Sea Monkeys unfolds a lot like the creatures of this novel's title. This new world is at first so promising and real and then it is all taken away. The characters in this novel bring me back to life, back to a full appreciation of the wonder of it all. It is a novel about love and innocence and wisdom and surrender, the good kind. Mark Cull has shaped a fitting lesson for us in this era of passivity and neglect. – Percival Everett

. . . 

Chris Tarry holds an MFA from the University of British Columbia, and is the author of the story collection, How To Carry Bigfoot Home (Red Hen Press 2015). His fiction has appeared in publications such as The Literary Review, On Spec, The GW Review, PANK, Bull Men’s Fiction, and Monkeybicycle. His non-fiction has appeared in the anthology How to Expect What You’re Not Expecting, Outside In Literary & Travel Magazine, Grain Magazine, and many other places. In 2012, his story “Here Be Dragons” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He is also a four-time Juno Award winner (the Canadian Grammy), and one of New York’s most sought-after musicians. He lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with his wife Michelle and two amazing kids, Chloe and Lucas. Visit him at

Mark E. Cull is a publisher and author who lives in Los Angeles with his wife and Red Hen Press Co-Founder, Kate Gale. Born and raised in Los Angeles, fortune led him to spend nearly two decades in the aerospace and defense industries before a lurking passion for literature finally compelled him to that world, and more specifically the world of publishing. Ready to change the publishing landscape, Mark joined Kate Gale in establishing one of the most respected and eclectic presses in the independent literature publishing sector, Red Hen Press. Mark attended college at Cal State Northridge, majoring in Literature. Since that transition, he has authored a short story collection, One Way Donkey Ride (Asylum Arts, 2002), founded The Los Angeles Review, serves on the advisory board of WriteGirl, and has co-edited three collections of short fiction: Anyone is Possible, Blue Cathedral, and The Crucifix is Down. In addition to the upcoming release of The King of the Sea Monkeys (April, 2015: Guernica Editions), he is currently at work on a novel and seeking a home for two others.

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KIRKER BUTLER reads from his debut novel PRETTY UGLY

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on April 8th, 2015

Pretty Ugly (Thomas Dunne Books)

 From Kirker Butler, a writer/producer of Family Guy, comes a satirical look at a dysfunctional southern family complete with an overbearing stage mom, a 9 year-old pageant queen, a cheating husband, his teenage girlfriend, a crazy grandmother, and Jesus.

After eight-and-a-half years and three hundred twenty-three pageants, Miranda Miller has become the ultimate stage mother. Her mission in life is to see that her nine-year-old daughter, Bailey, continues to be one of the most successful child pageant contestants in the southern United States. But lately, that mission has become increasingly difficult. Bailey wants to retire and has been secretly binge eating to make herself "unpageantable;" and the reality show Miranda has spent years trying to set up just went to their biggest rival.

But Miranda has a plan. She's seven months pregnant with her fourth child, a girl (thank God), and she is going to make damn sure this one is even more successful than Bailey, even if the new girl is a little different.

Miranda's husband, Ray, however, doesn't have time for pageants. A full-time nurse, Ray spends his days at the hospital where he has developed a habit of taking whatever pills happen to be lying around. His nights are spent working hospice and dealing with Courtney, the seventeen-year-old orphan granddaughter of one of his hospice patients who he has, regrettably, knocked up. With a pregnant wife, a pregnant teenage mistress, two jobs, a drug hobby, and a mountain of debt, Ray is starting to take desperate measures to find some peace. Meanwhile, the Millers' two sons are being homeschooled by Miranda's mother, Joan (pronounced Jo-Ann), a God-fearing widow who spends her free time playing cards and planning a murder with Jesus. Yes, Jesus.

A bright new voice in satirical literature, Kirker Butler pulls no punches as he dissects our culture's current state of affairs. It's really funny, but it's also pretty ugly.

Praise for Pretty Ugly

“To the pantheon of comic American fiction-kings – think Nathanael West, think Terry Southern - let us now add the name of Kirker Butler. In fine-tuned, generous prose that careens from screamingly funny to downright poignant, Pretty Ugly tells the tale of Miranda Ford, a pretty little girl with big-time, beauty pageant dreams. Butler has written a laugh-out-loud joy-ride of a book, the kind you don’t want to finish, and find yourself pressing into the hands of loved ones once you do. But don’t listen to me, grab it yourself. Kirker Butler is the real thing, and I can’t wait to read his next one.”—Jerry Stahl, author of Happy Mutant Baby Pills

“The person who wrote this book asked me for a quote, so I gave them one.”—Ricky Gervais

Pretty Ugly is everything you'd want in a novel: funny, poignant, exceedingly well-written. I look forward to reading it.”—Stephen Colbert

“I love this book, and I think Kurt Vonnegut would have loved it, too. In fact, it might have been his favorite book of all time. Hell, I'm just going to go ahead and say it: Kirker's book is hilarious, and it was Kurt Vonnegut's favorite book of all time.”—Seth MacFarlane, creator of Family Guy and Ted

“What I've read of this book I have liked!” —Amy Sedaris

“Miranda Miller and all the people of the South that orbit her are the dunces of the Confederacy you've been waiting to meet. They make one shockingly bad decision after another yet you will still be constantly surprised and delighted by every outcome. Bad things happen to bad people. Good things happen to bad people. Hilarious things happen to everyone. And there's a funeral so nutty that the only person who gets out with his dignity intact is the dearly departed. You may think you know something about children's beauty pageants but Kirker Butler has created a world that makes ‘Toddlers And Tiaras’ look like a nineteenth century book club meeting.” —Bean, KROQ’s Kevin and Bean Show

“A funny, slam-bam-thank you, ma'am, voyeuristic look at the world's most dysfunctional family. I could not put this book down!” —Jennifer Garner, actress

Kirker Butler  is an Emmy nominated writer and producer. His TV credits include Family GuyThe Cleveland Show, and The Neighbors among others. He has a new show, Galavant, which will premiere on ABC Television in January 2015. Butler is also the writer of the graphic novel, Blue Agave and Worm. Kirker grew up in Kentucky, and now lives in Los Angeles with his family.

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Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on April 8th, 2015

The Uncanny Reader: Stories from the Shadows (St. Martin's Griffin)

 From the deeply unsettling to the possibly supernatural, these thirty-one border-crossing stories from around the world explore the uncanny in literature, and delve into our increasingly unstable sense of self, home, and planet. The Uncanny Reader: Stories from the Shadows opens with “The Sand-man,” E.T.A. Hoffmann’s 1817 tale of dopplegangers and automatons—a tale that inspired generations of writers and thinkers to come. Stories by 19th and 20th century masters of the uncanny—including Edgar Allan Poe, Franz Kafka, and Shirley Jackson—form a foundation for sixteen award-winning contemporary authors, established and new, whose work blurs the boundaries between the familiar and the unknown. These writers come from Egypt, France, Germany, Japan, Poland, Russia, Scotland, England, Sweden, the United States, Uruguay, and Zambia—although their birthplaces are not always the terrains they plumb in their stories, nor do they confine themselves to their own eras. Contemporary authors include: Chris Adrian, Aimee Bender, Kate Bernheimer, Jean-Christophe Duchon-Doris, Mansoura Ez-Eldin, Jonathon Carroll, John Herdman, Kelly Link, Steven Millhauser, Joyce Carol Oates, Yoko Ogawa, Dean Paschal, Karen Russell, Namwali Serpell, Steve Stern and Karen Tidbeck.

Marjorie Sandor is the author of four books, most recently The Late Interiors: A Life Under Construction. Her story collection, Portrait of my Mother, Who Posed Nude in Wartime, won the 2004 National Jewish Book Award in Fiction, and an essay collection, The Night Gardener: A Search for Home won the 2000 Oregon Book Award for literary non-fiction. Her work has appeared in The Georgia Review, AGNI, The Hopkins Review and The Harvard Review among others. She lives in Corvallis, Oregon.

Aimee Bender is the author of the novels The Color Master, 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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Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on April 8th, 2015

PIT To LAX: My Story Worthy Life (Story Worthy Publishing)

 For Christine Blackburn, the youngest of six kids growing up in Pittsburgh, the idea of living in Los Angeles and working in the entertainment industry seemed like a dream (or at least something you only saw on television). Instead she took a circuitous route—first as a flight attendant, then in the Peace Corps—with some unforeseen setbacks: a rare cancer diagnosis at age 31. With a survivorʼs renewed sense of urgency, Blackburn finally found the courage to take the leap to Los Angeles and pursue her life as a performer, or at least... as a contestant on “The Dating Game.” PIT to LAX: My Story Worthy Life is a series of memories about loving, losing, and letting go, which will inspire you and stay with you long after youʼve left its last pages. With PIT to LAX: My Story Worthy Life, Christine Blackburn proves she has indeed lived a Story Worthy Life.

Praise for PIT to LAX: My Story Worthy Life:

“Christine has written a frank and funny collection of stories. You'll be laughing out loud one minute and then she'll hit you with a poignancy that you didn't see coming. Reading this book is like getting sucker punched in the best way possible.” -ANNABELLE GURWITCH, New York Times Bestselling author of I SEE YOU MADE AN EFFORT: Compliments, Indiginities and Survival Stories From The Edge of 50

“Hey you, read this book! So what if you don't necessarily know who the author is, she had an interesting life, went to the Peace Corps, survived cancer and a lot of other stuff. Just buy it already. If you don't like it I'll give you your money back.” -TODD GLASS, author of The Todd Glass Situation

“This book will take you on the unique journey of Blackburn's life. It will make you think, feel and laugh. I loved it.” -YAKOV SMIRNOFF, Comedian, Actor, Professor

“From going to the bathroom in a bucket in Tonga while serving in the Peace Corps to undergoing chemotherapy with a doctor named Donald Trump, Blackburn shares and laughs at her many adventures (and misadventures) with heart, humor, and optimism. The optimism which carried her to California, and ultimately saved her life.”-LILIBET SNELLINGS, author of BOX GIRL: My Part-Time Job as an Art Installation

Christine Blackburn is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post, comedian, producer, host, and creator of the highly acclaimed Story Worthy Podcast and the game show, Shotgun Story Worthy. Christine has been seen in over 50 national commercials and spent two years on the USA Network program, Ready For The Weekend Movie. Christine is passionate about music, tennis, and sushi. She lives with her daughter in Los Angeles.

More information including live performance dates and video can be found

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DENNIS LEHANE reads from his new novel WORLD GONE BY

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on April 8th, 2015

World Gone By (William Morrow & Company)

 Dennis Lehane, the New York Times bestselling author of The Given Day and Live by Night, returns with a psychologically and morally complex novel of blood, crime, passion, and vengeance, set in Cuba and Ybor City, Florida, during World War II, in which Joe Coughlin must confront the cost of his criminal past and present.

Ten years have passed since Joe Coughlin's enemies killed his wife and destroyed his empire, and much has changed. Prohibition is dead, the world is at war again, and Joe's son, Tomas, is growing up. Now, the former crime kingpin works as a consigliore to the Bartolo crime family, traveling between Tampa and Cuba, his wife's homeland.

A master who moves in and out of the black, white, and Cuban underworlds, Joe effortlessly mixes with Tampa's social elite, U.S. Naval intelligence, the Lansky-Luciano mob, and the mob-financed government of Fulgencio Batista. He has everything--money, power, a beautiful mistress, and anonymity.

But success cannot protect him from the dark truth of his past--and ultimately, the wages of a lifetime of sin will finally be paid in full.

Dennis Lehane vividly recreates the rise of the mob during a world at war, from a masterfully choreographed Ash Wednesday gun battle in the streets of Ybor City to a chilling, heartbreaking climax in a Cuban sugar cane field. Told with verve and skill, World Gone By is a superb work of historical fiction from one of "the most interesting and accomplished American novelists" (Washington Post) writing today.

Dennis Lehane is the author of ten novels, including the New York Times bestsellers Gone, Baby, GoneMystic RiverShutter IslandThe Given DayMoonlight Mile; and Live by Night, as well as Coronado, a collection of short stories and a play. He and his wife, Angie, divide their time between Boston and the Gulf Coast of Florida.

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WRITEGIRL presents their latest anthology YOU ARE HERE

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on March 23rd, 2015

You Are Here (Writegirl Publications)

 WriteGirl is an innovative nonprofit organization that empowers teen girls through creative writing. Join us for this special chance to hear our WriteGirl teens speak their minds and read their original poetry and prose. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll be surprised—you won’t want to miss this one! Skylight Books has truly become a part of WriteGirl tradition.

WriteGirl’s latest anthology, You Are Here: The WriteGirl Journey, showcases the stories of 161 women and girls navigating their way through small moments and big adventures. You Are Here is available for purchase at Skylight Books.

Praise for WriteGirl

“These girls started with a few words and the seed of an idea. With WriteGirl's encouragement, each girl allowed the words to keep coming until her idea grew into an essay, a story, or a poem. What do writers do? They write. And how lucky we are to have these writers' words to inspire us!” – Carole King, GRAMMY Award-winning singer and songwriter

“The work of these young women reminds me what it's like to be young. Their voices are clear and passionate, carefully observant and exuberant. They celebrate their friends, their neighborhoods, new love, and mourn the losses from which their youth can't shield them. They tell the truth.” – Terry Wolverton, author

WriteGirl is a nonprofit organization for Los Angeles high school girls (ages 13-18) centered on the craft of creative writing and empowerment through self-expression. Through one-on-one mentoring and monthly workshops, girls are given techniques, insights and hot tips for great writing in all genres from professional women writers.

Founder and Executive Director Keren Taylor and WriteGirl’s unique programming have received numerous awards and commendations for exemplary community service, including being honored with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award by First Lady Michelle Obama. While such recognition is much appreciated, WriteGirl is most proud of the accomplishments of its teen members—100% of our graduating seniors have entered college, many on full or partial scholarships.

For more information, please visit or email

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DAVID VANN reads from his novel AQUARIUM

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on March 23rd, 2015

Aquarium (Grove Press)

 Please welcome back to Skylight Books one of our favorite authors, David Vann!

 Twelve-year-old Caitlin lives alone with her mother—a docker at the local container port—in subsidized housing next to an airport in Seattle. Each day, while she waits to be picked up after school, Caitlin visits the local aquarium to study the fish. Gazing at the creatures within the watery depths, Caitlin accesses a shimmering universe beyond her own. When she befriends an old man at the tanks one day, who seems as enamored of the fish as she, Caitlin cracks open a dark family secret and propels her once-blissful relationship with her mother toward a precipice of terrifying consequence.

In crystalline, chiseled, yet graceful prose, Aquarium takes us into the heart of a brave young girl whose longing for love and capacity for forgiveness transforms the damaged people around her. Relentless and heartbreaking, primal and redemptive,Aquarium is a transporting story from one of the best American writers of our time.

Published in twenty languages, David Vann’s previous books—A Mile Down; Legend of a Suicide; Caribou Island; Last Day On Earth; Dirt; and Goat Mountain—have won enormous critical acclaim. A former Guggenheim fellow, Wallace Stegner fellow, John L’Heureux fellow, and NEA fellow, he has taught at Stanford, Cornell, FSU, USF, holds degrees from Stanford and Cornell, and is currently a Professor at the University of Warwick in England and Honorary Professor at the University of Franche-Comté in France.

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Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on March 23rd, 2015

Punk Elegies (Rare Bird Books)

 Punk Elegies arrives like a chemically unstable mixture of Richard Yates and Damon Runyon. Set along Hollywood Boulevard at the birth of punk and the death of the 1970s, the thirty-three melancholic, comic laments of Punk Elegies are a mesmerizing concoction of delusion and revelation. A cultural moment, a marriage and one young man's mind and soul spiral through a series of boundless possibilities and arrive at a harrowing finality. In the end, on the spin cycle of destiny, MacDonell circles alone, naked and bewildered in the labyrinth of a pre-AIDS bathhouse inferno. The first sunrise of the rest of his life dares him to step outside.

Allan MacDonell is the author of Prisoner of X: 20 Years in the Hole at Hustler Magazine and was a defining voice of the groundbreaking punk periodical Slashmagazine. While writing for Slash, he also co-invented slam-dancing.

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PAUL BEATTY discusses his new novel THE SELLOUT, together with DANZY SENNA

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on March 23rd, 2015

The Sellout (Farrar Straus Giroux)

 A biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality—the black Chinese restaurant.

Born in the "agrarian ghetto" of Dickens—on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles—the narrator of The Sellout resigns himself to the fate of lower-middle-class Californians: "I’d die in the same bedroom I’d grown up in, looking up at the cracks in the stucco ceiling that’ve been there since ’68 quake." Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, he spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe that his father’s pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family’s financial woes. But when his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that’s left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral.

Fuelled by this deceit and the general disrepair of his hometown, the narrator sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California from further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town’s most famous resident—the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins—he initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.

Praise for The Sellout

The Sellout is brilliant. Amazing. Like demented angels wrote it.”—Sarah Silverman

“I am glad that I read this insane book alone, with no one watching, because I fell apart with envy, hysterics, and flat-out awe. Is there a more fiercely brilliant and scathingly hilarious American novelist than Paul Beatty?”—Ben Marcus

“Paul Beatty has always been one of smartest, funniest, gutsiest writers in America, but The Sellout sets a new standard. It’s a spectacular explosion of comic daring, cultural provocation, brilliant, hilarious prose, and genuine heart.”—Sam Lipsyte

 “Beatty, author of the deservedly highly praised The White Boy Shuffle (1996), here outdoes himself and possibly everybody else in a send-up of race, popular culture, and politics in today’s America . . . Beatty hits on all cylinders in a darkly funny, dead-on-target, elegantly written satire . . . [The Sellout] is frequently laugh-out-loud funny and, in the way of the great ones, profoundly thought provoking. A major contribution.”—Mark Levine, Booklist (starred review)

“Beatty creates a wicked satire that pokes fun at all that is sacred to life in the United States . . . His story is full of the unexpected, resulting in absurd and hilarious drama.”—Library Journal

Paul Beatty is the author of three novels—Slumberland, Tuff, and The White Boy Shuffle—and two books of poetry: Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce. He is the editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor. He lives in New York City. 

Danzy Senna is the author of two novels, Caucasia and Symptomatic, the memoir, Where Did You Sleep Last Night? (FSG, 2009), and a collection of short stories entitled You Are Free (Riverhead, 2011). Her fiction and essays have appeared in publications such as Vogue, O Magazine, The New York Times Sunday Book Review, as well as The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. She has been a fellow at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers and a recipient of the Whiting Writers Award. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Percival Everett, and their children.

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Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on March 23rd, 2015

Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class (Yale University Press)

 Rapid change is part of life in the twenty-first century, and we must all adjust to an evolving world. But for many thousands of creative artists, a torrent of recent changes has made it nearly impossible to earn a living. A persistent economic recession, social shifts, and technological change have combined to put our artists and those whose work supports them—from graphic designers to indie-rock musicians, from architects to booksellers—out of work.

As a group, artists, writers, and musicians have never been rich, but for most of American history, Scott Timberg argues, they have been able to build modest middle class lives through diligent work. Today, even artists who are quite successful—musicians with loyal fans and respected albums, award-winning novelists, visual artists with work in museum collections, architects with national reputations—cannot hold onto the benefits of the middle class: stable housing, access to healthcare, and educational opportunities for their kids. Along with artists themselves, the institutions and structures that have traditionally supported them have been decimated. Publishers, booksellers, galleries, record and video stores, radio stations, and newspapers have hemorrhaged jobs in a world of instantly available digital content and music piracy.

In addition to a brutal recession and a tidal wave of technology, Timberg examines other drivers of the crisis. Trends in academia have devalued literature, focusing instead on impenetrable theory. An avant garde that disdains “middlebrow” artistic production has led to a shrinking audience for art. Radio monopolies have homogenized the airwaves. The music industry has invested almost all resources in a tiny number of hitmakers. Perhaps most important, entrenched stereotypes of artists as idle dreamers or entitled bohemians, rather than hardworking, highly trained professionals, have made it hard for the broader society to see their vital economic and cultural contribution. Americans respond with more sympathy for job losses in the agrarian economy or in manufacturing than to similarly devastating losses in the creative economy.  

Timberg considers both the human costs and the unintended consequences for America if the people who create and support culture cannot stay in the middle class. When only the  independently wealthy can afford to engage in creative pursuits, he warns, culture becomes more narrow, robbed of important and critical perspectives.  When artists and artisans can’t make a living, we all pay the price.

Full of original reporting and thoughtful analysis, Culture Crash provides a sweeping overview of a very real crisis affecting real workers and their families as well as the broader culture. It is alarming and essential reading for anyone who works in a creative field, knows someone who does, or cares about the work artists produce.

Praise for Culture Crash:

“Scott Timberg has written an original and important study. He explores some of the most pressing cultural issues affecting the arts and intellectual life with remarkable clarity. This is the first analysis of our current culture from the bottom up—the precarious situation of the individual artists, writers, and musicians who are now struggling to survive.”—Dana Gioia, poet and former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts

“I read Scott Timberg’s pieces every week without fail. It’s great to see his book Culture Crash debunk the mumbo jumbo about the long tail, file-sharing, free information, and positive thinking —and take a hard look at what it all means for artists, musicians, critics and teachers.”—Dean Wareham, lead singer of Luna and author of Black Postcards: A Memoir

“We’ve all had the feeling of these enormous changes—long in the making, not ‘at the last minute’—but Scott Timberg has the synthesis that makes them make sense. Culture Crash throws a clear, defining light on the squeeze that digitally-based economies have put on our artists, the analog makers who have always defined us to ourselves. A hugely important book.”—Sven Birkerts, author of The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age

“With coolness and equanimity, Scott Timberg tells what in less-skilled hands could have been an overwrought horror story: the end of culture as we have known it.  He mourns the loss of independent book- and record-store clerks who evangelized for quality.  He grieves for artists' ‘day jobs’, which allowed creative workers a toehold in the middle-class. Culture Crash is an urgent, necessary book (or eBook) for anyone who has ever been moved by a song, a film, a paragraph or a painting. Without the humanities, Timberg cautions, we may lose our humanity.”—M.G. Lord, author of Forever Barbie and The Accidental Feminist

Scott Timberg is a Los Angeles-based culture writer, contributing writer for Salon, and onetime LA Times arts reporter who has contributed to The New York Times, GQ, and The Hollywood Reporter. He is the co-editor, along with Dana Gioia, of the anthology The Misread City: New Literary Los Angeles. A graduate of Wesleyan University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he runs ArtsJournal’s CultureCrash blog and lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son.

Janet Fitch is the author of the novels Paint It Black and White Oleander. Her short stories and essays have appeared in anthologies and journals such as Black Clock, Room of One's Own, and Los Angeles Noir, and she is a contributing editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books.  A film version of Paint It Black has been recently shot in Silverlake and downtown.  She is currently finishing a novel set during the Russian Revolution. Her publisher, Little Brown, owned by Hachette Book Group,  went 14 rounds with marketing giant Amazon last year.

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CALARTS MFA students read from their work

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on March 23rd, 2015

Sydney Barile is a writer. She lives in Los Angeles—the city where she was born and raised; a city that continues to inspire and influence her work.

Anna Cruze is a writer and artist whose fictional work focuses on the supernatural/uncanny. Anna runs You Nerd You, a YouTube channel where she posts
lifestyle videos and discusses popular genre film, television and literature. She earned a BFA in Film/Video from CalArts in 2010. 

Regine Darius is a writer, associate editor and event planner for the internationally acclaimed magazine, Black Clock, and blogger for My Story Matters at, where she explores and shares her Christian faith through devotionals. Darius also written for The Eye, Whole Magazine and The Good Women Project and is featured in the CalArts’ Writing program’s collection, Everybody Hold My Hand Right Now I Swear to God! 

Michelle Cohen is a native Californian writer and poet based in Los Angeles.

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SARAH MANGUSO discusses her new book ONGOINGNESS: THE END OF A DIARY, together with MIRANDA JULY

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on March 18th, 2015

Ongoingness: The End of A Diary (Graywolf Press)

 In her third book that continues to define the contours of the contemporary essay, Sarah Manguso confronts a meticulous diary that she has kept for twenty-five years. “I wanted to end each day with a record of everything that had ever happened,” she explains. But this simple statement belies a terror that she might forget something, that she might miss something important. Maintaining that diary, now 800,000 words, had become, until recently, a kind of spiritual practice.

Then Manguso became pregnant and had a child, and these two Copernican events generated an amnesia that put her into a different relationship with the need to document herself amid ongoing time. Ongoingness is a spare, meditative work that stands in stark contrast to the volubility of the diary—it is a haunting account of mortality and impermanence, of how we struggle to find clarity amid the chaos of time that rushes around and over and through us.

Praise for Ongoingness:

“The memoir form is shaken up and reinvented in this brilliant meditation on time and record-keeping. Ongoingness is a short book but there’s nothing small about it. Sarah Manguso covers vast territory with immense subtlety and enviable wit.”—Jenny Offill

“It seemed scarcely possible that, after The Two Kinds of Decay and The Guardians, Sarah Manguso’s work could get more urgent, but somehow it has. Ongoingness confronts the deepest processes and myths of life and death: birth, marriage, illness, mourning, motherhood, art. Underwriting this book, as is true of all of Manguso’s books, is writing itself. Or, rather, the writing is about itself in the best, most vital sense. Our author/narrator/speaker/heroine is never not asking the most fundamental question, namely, Why live? The seriousness of the inquiry gives this book extraordinary purpose, momentum, and value. I am in awe.”—David Shields

“After I had my son I looked everywhere for a book that might serve as some kind of mirror. I bought so many silly books. Now I see what the problem was: I wanted a book about time—about mortality. I can’t think of a writer who is at once so experimentally daring and so rigorously uncompromising as Sarah Manguso. Ongoingness is an incredibly elegant, wise book, and I loved it.”—Miranda July

Sarah Manguso is the author of two memoirs, The Guardians and The Two Kinds of Decay, two poetry collections, and a short story collection. Her essays have appeared in Harper’s, the New York Review of Books, the New York Times Book Review, and theNew York Times Magazine. Born and raised near Boston, she was educated at Harvard and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She lives in Los Angeles.

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