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

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

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

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

- Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels

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

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

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

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

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BEAU RICE discusses his documentary novel TEX together with TRACY JEANNE ROSENTHAL

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

TEX (Penny Ante Books)

Skylight Books' very own Beau Rice joins us for the release of his documentary novel, Tex!

An experiment between the epistolary and the ectype, Tex is a performance act in print. Featuring walk-ons by various interlocutors, this archival outpour demonstrates the potentiality of relationships in the digital age. Metonymic displacements, grammatical violations and verbal spillage form the book's rowdy non-narrative about a young LA artist’s sexual explorations, his attachment to a Texas-based former fling, Matt G, and the energy and opportunism involved with the continually forthcoming publication of this, his first book.

Rated X for strong language and sexual content.

Beau Rice is a writer and artist living in Los Angeles.

By 2015, Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal will have three books, Close (Sibling Rivalry Press), Ri Ri (Re)Vision (Publication Studio), and This Is The ENDD (Wilner Books). She is Beau's friend, an art critic for Rhizome.org, and a bratty bottom.

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ELAINE SOLOWAY reads from her book GREEN NAILS AND OTHER ACTS OF REBELLION

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

Green Nails and Other Acts of Rebellion: Life After Loss (She Writes Press)

Early in 2009, after more than a decade of marriage, Elaine Soloway's husband, Tommy, began to change exhibiting inappropriate behaviors at times, becoming inexplicably weepy at others. More troublesome, he began to have difficulty finding words. Ultimately, Tommy's doctors discovered that he had frontotemporal degeneration a diagnosis that explained Tommy's baffling symptoms and transformed Soloway from irritated wife to unflappable, devoted caregiver in one fell swoop.

In Green Nails and Other Acts of Rebellion Soloway documents Tommy's deteriorating health and eventual death, shedding light on the day-to-day realities of those who assume the caregiver role in a relationship with uncompromising honesty and wry humor. Charming, frank, and ultimately uplifting, Soloway's story reveals how rich with love and appreciation a life compromised by an incurable illness can be and how even widowhood can open a door to a new, invigorated life.

Praise for Green Nails and Other Acts of Rebellion

"Soloway's story delves deeper than the role of caregiver to her husband. It's not so much about Tommy as it is about coping with Tommy's illness and learning to live with it. It's about accepting life's challenges and moving forward, even when forward sometimes feels backward. It's a story that manages to stay surprisingly lighthearted, as Soloway injects bittersweet memories and bits of humor into her writing. There is no woe-is-me moment in this book. There is no asking of sympathy. I always respect that in a writer." -Sophie L. Nagelberg, Literary Chicago

"What a sweet, poignant collection of memories, revisited with honesty and wit. Elaine Soloway may be a rookie widow but she is a master reporter, with high honors in tender loving care." --Elinor Lipman, author of The Inn At Lake DevineThen She Found MeI Can't Complain: (All Too) Personal Essays

"Soloway wins the day with her upbeat closing essays, showing us that there is 'Life After Loss' as she soldiers on in her seventies, to more joy and happiness, embracing a life filled with love and laughter from friends and family." -Sandy Pesman, WidowsList.com

Elaine Soloway is the author of the memoir The Division Street Princess, the novel She's Not The Type, and a contributor to the anthology Ask Me About My Divorce. A public relations consultant for thirty years, she also writes the blogs The Rookie Widow, The Rookie Caregiver, and Too Old To Talk Tech. Along with developing her own essays, she is a writing coach and a tech tutor. Soloway is a lifelong Chicagoan and currently lives in the city's River North neighborhood. 

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MEGHAN DAUM discusses her THE UNSPEAKABLE: AND OTHER SUBJECTS OF DISCUSSION, together with BERNARD COOPER

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

The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion (Farrar Straus Giroux)

A master of the personal essay candidly explores love, death, and the counterfeit rituals of American life. For tonight's event Meghan Daum will be joined by Bernard Cooper!

In her celebrated 2001 collection, My Misspent YouthMeghan Daum offered a bold, witty, defining account of the artistic ambitions, financial anxieties, and mixed emotions of her generation. The Unspeakable is an equally bold and witty, but also a sadder and wiser, report from early middle age.

It's a report tempered by hard times. In "Matricide," Daum unflinchingly describes a parent's death and the uncomfortable emotions it provokes; and in "Diary of a Coma" she relates her own journey to the twilight of the mind. But Daum also operates in a comic register. With perfect precision, she reveals the absurdities of the marriage-industrial complex, of the New Age dating market, and of the peculiar habits of the young and digital. Elsewhere, she writes searchingly about cultural nostalgia, Joni Mitchell, and the alternating heartbreak and liberation of choosing not to have children.

Combining the piercing insight of Joan Didion with a warm humor reminiscent of Nora Ephron, Daum dissects our culture's most dangerous illusions, blind spots, and sentimentalities while retaining her own joy and compassion. Through it all, she dramatizes the search for an authentic self in a world where achieving an identity is never simple and never complete.

Praise for The Unspeakable: And Other Subject of Discussion:

The Unspeakable is a fantastic collection of essays: funny, clever and moving (often at the  same time), never more universal than in its most personal moments (in other words, throughout), and written with enviable subtlety, precision and spring. As if that weren’t enough, Meghan Daum very nearly persuaded me to listen to Joni Mitchell again!”– Geoff Dyer

The Unspeakable speaks with wit and warmth and artful candor, the fruits of an exuberant and consistently surprising intelligence. These are essays that dig under the surface of what we might expect to feel in order to discover what we actually feel instead. I was utterly captivated by Daum’s sensitive fidelity to the complexity of lived experience.” – Leslie Jamison

"For several years now, I've kept copies of some of these essays . . . by my desk . . . Her writing has a clarity . . . that just makes you feel awake." --Ira Glass

"A Joan Didion for the new millennium, Meghan Daum brings grace, wit, and insight to contemporary life, love, manners, and money." --Dan Wakefield

Meghan Daum is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times and the author of the essay collection My Misspent Youth. She is also the author of Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House and The Quality of Life Report, a novel. Her essays and reviews have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The New York Times Book Review, Vogue, and other publications. She has also contributed to NPR’s Morning Edition, Marketplace, and This American Life. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

Bernard Cooper is the author of the forthcoming memoir, My Avant-Garde Education. He is also the author of The Bill From My Father, Maps To Anywhere, A Year of Rhymes, Truth Serum, and a collection of short stories, Guess Again. Cooper is the recipient of the PEN/USA Ernest Hemingway Award, the O. Henry Prize, a Guggenheim grant, and a National Endowment of the Arts fellowship in literature.  His work has appeared in several anthologies, including The Best American Essays of 1988, 1995, and 1997, 2002, and 2008.  His work has also appeared in magazines and literary reviews including, Granta, Harper's Magazine, The Paris Review, Story, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, and The New York Times Magazine.  He has contributed to National Public Radio's "This American Life" and for six years wrote monthly features as the art critic for Los Angeles Magazine

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ADELLE WALDMAN reads from her novel THE LOVE AFFAIRS OF NATHANIEL P. in conversation with director MARC WEBB

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

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. (Picador)

Adelle Waldman, whose novel The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. has been on our bestseller list for months, discusses her book with film director Marc Webb (500 Days of SummerThe Amazing Spider-Man).

A debut novel by a brilliant young woman about the romantic life of a brilliant young man.

Writer Nate Piven's star is rising. After several lean and striving years, he has his pick of both magazine assignments and women: Juliet, the hotshot business reporter; Elisa, his gorgeous ex-girlfriend, now friend; and Hannah, "almost universally regarded as nice and smart, or smart and nice," who holds her own in conversation with his friends. When one relationship grows more serious, Nate is forced to consider what it is he really wants.

In Nate's 21st-century literary world, wit and conversation are not at all dead. Is romance? Novelist Adelle Waldman plunges into the psyche of a flawed, sometimes infuriating modern man--one who thinks of himself as beyond superficial judgment, yet constantly struggles with his own status anxiety, who is drawn to women, yet has a habit of letting them down in ways that may just make him an emblem of our times. With tough-minded intelligence and wry good humor The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. is an absorbing tale of one young man's search for happiness--and an inside look at how he really thinks about women, sex and love.

Praise for The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.:

"Deliciously funny, sharply observed, elegantly told, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. is the best debut I've encountered in years, the best novel about New York, and the best novel about contemporary manhood and the crazy state of gender roles and just "contemporary" life. With a pitch perfect balance of satire and sympathy, reminiscent of Mary McCarthy's The Group, Joshua Ferris' Then We Came to the End, and Jay McInerney'sBrightness Falls, Adelle Waldman's voice is nevertheless entirely--and unabashedly--her own." --Joanna Smith Rakoff, author of the novel A Fortunate Age

"Novelist Adelle Waldman does a very tricky thing: she succeeds in crossing the gender line, imagining the world from behind the eyes of a male character both sympathetically and unsentimentally. This former young-literary-man-in-Brooklyn found himself cringing in recognition." --William Deresiewicz, author of A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter

"I can't remember the last novel this good about being young and smart and looking for love in the big city. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. reads as if one of the top tier 19th-century novelists zeroed her social x-ray eyes onto present-moment Brooklyn. Up-and-coming writers and artists everywhere will be squirming with uncomfortable recognition of themselves, their friends, and their psyches; far more readers will be thanking Adelle Waldman for this hilarious, big-hearted, ruthlessly intelligent, and ridiculously well-written novel." --Charles Bock, author of the best-selling novel Beautiful Children

""Bracing and astute. Waldman writes these crisp, smart sentences that are every bit as thoughtful as her characters--people whose relationships founder and flourish in ways that will captivate readers from page one." --Fiona Maazel, author of Last Last Chance and "Woke Up Lonely

Adelle Waldman is the author of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. Her articles have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Slate, The Wall Street Journal and other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband.

Filmmaker Marc Webb most recently directed The Amazing Spider-Man 2, after helming the critically acclaimedThe Amazing Spider-Man which grossed over $750 million worldwide. Webb will direct the third installment in the series, The Amazing Spider-Man 3, scheduled for release in 2018. Webb made his feature film debut with the two-time Golden Globe nominated (500) Days of Summer for which he received The National Board of Review’s Spotlight Award, recognizing outstanding directorial debuts.

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JONATHAN LETHEM reads from his book DISSIDENT GARDENS and LYDIA MILLET reads from her book MERMAIDS IN PARADISE

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

Dissident Gardens (Vintage Books) Mermaids in Paradise (W.W. Norton & Company)

Jonathan Lethem, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and the MacArthur Fellowship whose writing has been called "as ambitious as [Norman] Mailer, as funny as Philip Roth, and as stinging as Bob Dylan" ("Los Angeles Times"), returns with an epic yet intimate family saga.

Rose Zimmer, the aptly nicknamed Red Queen of Sunnyside, Queens, is an unreconstructed Communist who savages neighbors, family, and political comrades with the ferocity of her personality and the absolutism of her beliefs. Her equally passionate and willful daughter, Miriam, flees Rose's influence for the dawning counterculture of Greenwich Village. Despite their differences, they share a power to enchant the men in their lives: Rose's aristocratic German Jewish husband, Albert; her feckless chess hustler cousin, Lenny; Cicero Lookins, the brilliant son of her black cop lover; Miriam's (slightly fraudulent) Irish folksinger husband, Tommy Gogan; and their bewildered son, Sergius. Through Lethem's vivid storytelling we come to understand that the personal may be political, but the political, even more so, is personal.

Pulitzer Prize finalist Lydia Millet returns to redefine “comedy of errors” in Mermaids In Paradise, the genre-bending satire of a tropical honeymoon hijacked by mermaids, kidnappers, and mercenaries.

In this hilarious novel, a honeymooning couple makes friends with a marine biologist who discovers genuine mermaids in a coral reef—and who, the next night, apparently drowns in her hotel bathtub. As a resort chain swoops in to corner the market on mermaids, the newlyweds (opinionated, skeptical narrator Deb and handsome online gamer Chip, the world’s friendliest man) join forces with other vacationers—including an ex–Navy SEAL with a love of explosives and a hipster Tokyo VJ—to protect the mermaids from the corporate “Venture of Marvels” that wants to turn their habitat into a theme park.

Mermaids in Paradise is Millet’s funniest book yet, tempering the sharp satire of her early career with the empathy and emotional power of her more recent, critically acclaimed novels and short stories. This is an unforgettable, mesmerizing tale, comic on the surface and deeply solemn at its core.

Praise for Dissident Gardens:

"Dissident Gardens seamlessly weaves together three generations, yet it doesn't broadcast itself as a multigenerational epic, nor is it afflicted by the desire to pose as the next great American novel. It's an intimate book."--The New York Times Book Review

"A tour de force, a brilliant, satiric journey through America's dissident history."--The Star Tribune

"Lethem has artfully blended, redefined, ignored, satirized and enriched the traditional categories of fiction."--The Plain Dealer

"Remarkable. . . . Lethem's best novel since "Motherless Brooklyn." . . . Crackle[s] with wordplay and intelligence."--The Miami Herald

"The writing soars. . . . Lethem can riff with the best, spinning knockout lines that make you stop and stare . . . while you admire a sentence's every turn."--The Seattle Times

"An assured, expert literary performance by one of our most important writers. . . . Magnificent."--Los Angeles Review of Books

Praise for Mermaids in Paradise:

"Mermaids in Paradise makes brilliant comedy out of a honeymoon trip that veers from the absurd to the sublime and back again. Lydia Millet is a stone-cold genius. --Jenny Offill, author of Dept. of Speculation

"I laughed so hard all over town. Leave it to Lydia Millet to capsize her human characters in aquamarine waters and upstage their honeymoon with mermaids. I am awed to know there's a mind like Millet's out there. She's a writer without limits, always surprising, always hilarious. --Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia! andVampires in the Lemon Grove

Jonathan Lethem is the "New York Times" bestselling author of nine novels, including Chronic CityThe Fortress of Solitude, and Motherless Brooklyn, and of the nonfiction collection The Ecstasy of Influence. A National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, Lethem's work has appeared in "The New Yorker," "Harper's Magazine," "Rolling Stone," "Esquire," and "The New York Times," among other publications. 

Lydia Millet is the author of twelve previous books of fiction. Her novel Ghost Lightswas a New York Times Notable Book; its sequel Magnificence was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle and Los Angeles Times Awards in fiction; and her story collection Love in Infant Monkeys was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. She lives outside Tucson, Arizona. 

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PETER YARROW and NOEL PAUL STOOKEY discuss their book PETER, PAUL AND MARY: FIFTY YEARS OF A MUSIC LIFE

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

Peter, Paul and Mary: Fifty Years of a Music Life (Imagine Publishing)

Peter Yarrow and Noel Stookey of Peter, Paul, and Mary celebrate the release of the first book to detail the intimate story of the trio and their music.

Here is the first and only book that visually tells us the intimate story of Peter, Paul, and Mary and their music, with stirring images that follow their passionate fifty-year journey to the center of America’s heart.

The very best of thousands of photographs, many rare and never before published, taken over five decades by some of the world’s top photographers, show them at their earliest performances in the 1960s, when Mary was the most desired, beautiful, and charismatic performer and a new role model for women. Follow the trio as they lead America to discover the passionate soul of folk music. Join the struggle for racial equality, social justice, and freedom in this memorable journey, from the historic 1963 March on Washington with Martin Luther King, Jr., to the trio’s appearance before half a million people in 1969 to end the Vietnam War, to their singing at the Hollywood Bowl for Survival Sunday in 1978, helping to launch the antinuke movement, the world’s first international environmental movement.

Through these images, you can feel and almost hear the trio’s songs calling for a more caring, better world as you see photos of them performing with a courage and conviction that became, for so many, the embodiment and soundtrack of their generation’s awakening to conscience, to activism, and to a new dream for all humankind.

Peter, Paul, and Mary’s songs of defiant hope and a certain unmasked innocence are still a powerful part of our American consciousness. This book reenacts the history of how the trio marked our lives with their indelible stamp of honesty—the sort we yearn to recapture and recreate in our own time, for ourselves, our children, and the generations to come.

Peter, Paul, and Mary came into being at the dawn of John F. Kennedy's presidency, as America entered one of its most dramatic periods of social and political change. With music being one of the great forces that brought them together, Americans united in unprecedented ways to create a more just and peaceful society. Folk music, with its ability to reach people's hearts, became the sound track of this remarkable quest, and Peter, Paul, and Mary became standard-bearers of America's new hopes and dreams.

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MATTHEW GAVIN FRANK discusses his book PREPARING THE GHOST, in conversation with DAVID ULIN

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

Preparing the Ghost: An Essay Concerning the Giant Squid and Its First Photographer (Liveright Publishing)

Moses Harvey was the eccentric Newfoundland reverend and amateur naturalist who first photographed the near-mythic giant squid in 1874, draping it over a shower curtain rod to display its magnitude. In Preparing the Ghost, what begins as Moses s story becomes much more, as fellow squid-enthusiast Matthew Gavin Frank boldly winds his narrative tentacles around history, creative nonfiction, science, memoir, and meditations about the interrelated nature of them all.

In a full-hearted, lyrical style reminiscent of Geoff Dyer, Frank weaves in playful forays about his research trip to Moses' Newfoundland home, Frank's own childhood and family history, and a catalog of bizarre facts and lists that recall Melville's story of obsession with another deep-sea dwelling leviathan.

Though Frank is armed with impressive research, what he can't know about Harvey he fictionalizes, quite explicitly, as a way of both illuminating the scene and exploring his central theme: the big, beautiful human impulse to obsess.

For tonight's reading, Matthew Gavin Frank will be joined by Los Angeles Times book critic (and author himself) David Ulin.

Praise for Preparing the Ghost:

"Preparing the Ghost is a triumph of obsession, a masterful weaving of myth and science, of exploration and mystery, of love and nature. Here Matthew Gavin Frank delivers my favorite book-length essay since John D'Agata'sAbout a Mountain, and with it he stakes a claim to his own share of the new territory being forged by such innovators of the lyric essay as Eula Biss and Ander Monson." --Matt Bell, author of In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods

"Matthew Gavin Frank has made a book into a curiosity cabinet, one dedicated to the storied giant squid. A mysterious but seductive mix of history, creative non-fiction, memoir, and poetry, Preparing the Ghost is written with contagious passion. In this original book, Frank weaves his imagination through history s gaps, and keeps the reader riveted with the lure of the unknown and dark, sultry prose." --Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Birds of a Lesser Paradise

"Preparing the Ghost reads like a cross between Walt Whitman and a fever dream. Who would think squid and ice cream go together? I remained riveted to the very last word." --Sy Montgomery, author of The Good Good Pig

"Matthew Gavin Frank has fashioned a book-length essay marked by unforeseen oneiric asides, and of real and imaginary escapades in search of one Newfoundlander s giant squid. Preparing the Ghost is a mash-up of a meditation on the nature of myth, the magnetic distance between preservation and perseverance, and the sympathetic cravings that undergird pain. In Frank's heart-thumping taxonomy, monstrous behemoths square nicely with butterflies and ice cream. Don t ask me how: read this book!" --Mary Cappello, author of Swallow: Foreign Bodies, Their Ingestion, Inspiration, and the Curious Doctor who Extracted Them

"What a marvelous essay Matthew Gavin Frank has written. Preparing the Ghost is driven by narrative, by lyric association, by memoir, by lists, by research, by imagination. Frank delivers this story of Moses Harvey, the first person to photograph the giant squid, with a passion as supercharged as Harvey s own. Above all, this is an essay about obsession, mystery, mythmaking, and the colossal size of our lives. Take it all in. Revel in its majesty." --Lee Martin, author of Such a Life

"Like the giant squid at the center of this enchanting inquiry, Mathew Gavin Frank's Preparing the Ghost is a multi-tentacled and entirely captivating saga of profound mystery and relentless pursuit." --Dinty W. Moore, author of Between Panic & Desire

"Part history, part lyric poem, part detective novel Matthew Gavin Frank's Preparing the Ghost is just as intriguing and hard to classify as its subject. I never thought I'd care so much about the elusive giant squid, but thanks to this book, I can t help but see its shadow everywhere." --Brenda Miller, author of Season of the Body and Listening Against the Stone

"A great essay takes us into the author's polymathic mind and out to the wondrous world, teaching us something we didn t know we wanted to know. In Preparing the Ghost's deliciously delirious layering of science, biography, history, mystery, linguistics, myth, philosophy, epistemology, adventure, travel Matthew Gavin Frank has given us a truly great essay." --Patrick Madden, author of Quotidiana

The shortest distance between two people is a great story. This one is incredible. You will embrace Preparing the Ghost like a friend you won't want to leave." --Bob Dotson, New York Times bestselling author of American Story: A Lifetime Search for Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

"Matthew Gavin Frank reinvents the art of research in extraordinarily imaginative ways. His meditation on the briefly known and the forever unknowable courts lore (both family and creaturely), invites the fantastical, heeds fact, and turns the human drive to notate and list into a gesture of lyrical beauty". --Lia Purpura, author of On Looking and Rough Likeness

"Fans of Federico Fellini and, most especially, of Georges Perec, will adore Mr. Frank's infuriatingly baroque, charmingly eccentric and utterly unforgettable book. And with hand on heart I can truly say that I also loved every word of it." --Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Madman and Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded

"Inventive, original, and endlessly interesting, Preparing the Ghost is a gorgeous exploration of myth, history, language, and imagination, all swirling around the mysterious and evocative figure of the giant squid. This book is a journey through passion, obsession, fear, and adventure, and the hunger to behold what lurks within the depths of the sea. "To look into a squid's eyes is like looking into infinity," one squid-obsessed character declares, as Matthew Gavin Frank leads us deeper and deeper into this dazzling account of strangeness, and danger, and the longing to see." --Catherine Chung, author of Forgotten Country

"Preparing the Ghost is the most original book I have read in years. Opening with an arresting image that literally haunts him, Matthew Gavin Frank unstrings history and reweaves a narrative from its threads, from fiction and news reporting and his own life, to remind us that every experience is a story braid. To remind us that life and love and death all are beauty." --Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Chronology of Water and Dora: A Headcase

Matthew Gavin Frank has previously written about everything from wine-making in a tent in Italy to the social hierarchies of a pot farm in California. He teaches creative writing and lives in Marquette, Michigan. 

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DAN O’SHANNON discusses his book THE ADVENTURES OF MRS. JESUS

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on November 8th, 2014

The Adventures of Mrs. Jesus

With the cheeky irreverence of Lamb and Go the F**k to Sleep, comes a full-color illustrated collection of hilarious, satirical cartoons featuring the wife of Jesus, from Dan O'Shannon, an executive producer of ABC’s Modern Family.

To millions, Jesus is a teacher and an inspiring leader. To his wife, he’s the man who’s always out on the road, traveling across the country and hanging out with his pals. Now, this long-suffering wife is about to get her turn in the spotlight . . .

Welcome to The Adventures of Mrs. Jesus: a wonderfully profane and inventive chronicle of the life of humankind’s most tragically overlooked spouse. Everyone has a cross to bear. Hers has her husband on it.

Dan O'Shannon has written for several well-known network comedies such as Newhart, Cheers, Frasier, and Modern Family. His various awards include but are not limited to five Emmys, two Golden Globes, five WGA awards, an Annie award, and an Academy Award nomination. He also holds an honorary doctorate from Cleveland State University.   Additionally, O'Shannon is the author of a book about comedy theory-- What Are You Laughing At? A Comprehensive Guide to the Comedic Event, which has been adopted by universities across the country.

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GRACE HELBIG reads from her book GRACE’S GUIDE: THE ART OF PRETENDING TO BE A GROWN-UP

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on November 8th, 2014

Grace's Guide: The Art of Pretending to be a Grown-Up (Touchstone Books)

"One of the sharpest, funniest voices on YouTube" ("Forbes"), comedian Grace Helbig offers an irreverent and illustrated guide to life for anyone faced with the challenge of growing up.

Face it--being a young adult in the digital era is one of the hardest things to be. Well, maybe there are harder things in life...but being an adult is difficult! So Grace Helbig has written a guide that's perfect for anyone who is faced with the daunting task of becoming an adult. Infused with her trademark saucy, sweet, and funny voice, Grace's Guide is a tongue-in-cheek handbook for millennials, encompassing everything a young or new (or regular or old) adult needs to know, from surviving a breakup to recovering from a hangover. Beautifully illustrated and full-color,Grace's Guide features interactive elements and exclusive stories from Grace's own misadventures--like losing her virginity solely because her date took her to a Macaroni Grill--and many other hilarious lessons she learned the hard way.

Amusing and unexpectedly educational, this refreshing and colorful guide proves that becoming an adult doesn't necessarily mean you have to grow up.

Praise for Grace's Guide

"This book is just like Grace Helbig--hilarious, bright, and will cut you when you least expect it. Seriously, paper cuts are no joke. This is high-quality paper stock."--Mamrie Hart, Host of You Deserve a Drink on YouTube

"Grace Helbig is a sparkly vessel of wit and fun!"--Andy Cohen, author of Most Talkative

"One of YouTube's most endearing personalities."--Variety

"I've always looked up to Grace Helbig--and not only because she's a giantess!--because she has the extraordinary ability to accomplish whatever she sets out to do. I think this book is a testament to that."--Hannah Hart, author ofMy Drunk Kitchen

"Grace Helbig is my spirit animal and I would gladly take her to lunch at Macaroni Grill so we could talk Latin conventions, first love, and hangover remedies. I wouldn't even expect her to put out."-Jenny Han, author of To All the Boys I've Loved Before

"Hilariously honest without missing a beat, Grace brings her irresistible voice and lovable personality to Grace's Guide. #MustReadImmediately."--Tyler Oakley

Grace Helbig is a comedian, actress, and YouTube personality. She previously hosted "DailyGrace "on My Damn Channel, before leaving in January 2014 to create her own YouTube channel, it'sGrace which has more than 1.7 million subscribers and 150 million views. Helbig is the executive producer and star of the feature film "Camp Takota." She is the winner of the People's Choice Webby Award for Best First Person Format and the Streamy Award for Personality of the Year and Best First-Person Series. Helbig has been named one of "Fast Company's "100 Most Creative People in Business, "Forbes"' 30 under 30, "Time "magazine's 140 Best Twitter feeds, and BuzzFeed's 11 Awesome Up-and-Coming Funny Ladies You Should Know. A graduate of Ramapo College, she lives in Los Angeles.

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DANNIELLE OWENS-REID and KRISTIN RUSSO discuss their book THIS IS A BOOK FOR PARENTS OF GAY KIDS, together with VIVEK SHRAYA reading from his book GOD LOVES HAIR

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on November 8th, 2014

This Is A Book For Parents of Gay Kids (Chronicle Books)

"An excellent and much-needed resource." School Library Journal

This important book is the first of its kind—it is currently the only book to speak to parents who want practical, straightforward advice on how to communicate and better parent their gay child. Authors Dannielle Owens-Reidand Kristin Russo have been dialoguing with lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-gender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth, and supportive families and friends, for more than four years through their award-winning website, Everyone Is Gay. Expanding on the support and advice for LGBTQ youth and their families that Dannielle and Kristin offer on their website, the book’s question-and-answer format means readers can turn straight to the questions most relevant to them, or read cover to cover to discover answers to everything from profoundly personal religious questions to practical day-to-day issues. With two authors who truly understand gay youth, this book breaks down the issues that many families face when their child comes out.

This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids speaks to parents who want practical, straightforward advice on how to communicate and better parent their LGBTQ child. For tonight's event, Danielle and Kristin will be joined by Canadian author Vivek Shraya who will read from his book, God Loves Hair, a compilation of short stories following a tender, intellectual, and curious child as he navigates complex realms of sexuality, gender, racial politics, religion, and belonging.

Dannielle Owens-Reid and Kristin Russo dialogue daily with LGBTQ youth and families through their award-winning website, Everyone is Gay. Dannielle lives in Los Angeles, and Kristin lives in New York City.

Vivek Shraya is an artist working in the mediums of music, performance, literature, and film. Winner of the We Are Listening International Singer-Songwriter Award, Vivek has released albums ranging from acoustic folk-rock to electro synthpop, the most recent of which is I Could Be Good for You. His most recent film, What I LOVE about being QUEER, expanded to include an online project and book with contributions from around the world. He lives in Toronto.

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LAUREN COBB reads from BOULEVARD WOMEN

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on October 31st, 2014

Boulevard Women (BkMk Press Books)

Boulevard Women is a collection of braided short stories about the lives of several women, including a teenager, a forty-something widow, and a seventy-something traditionally Southern-minded lady, who are neighbors on Boulevard, a historic avenue in Athens, Georgia, that has seen better times. As the characters discover what growing up—and growing old—entails for contemporary American women, their lives reveal the complicated relationships between race, gender, and religion in our modern-day lives.

Praise for Boulevard Women

The acclaimed writer Kelly Cherry, who selected the book for the 2012 G. S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction, writes, ''With this debut collection Lauren Cobb proves herself as a writer who can create suspense, humor, and aesthetic shapeliness out of ordinary materials.” 

The critically lauded writer Judith Ortiz Cofer adds, “Boulevard Women is a compassionate and passionate rendering of the lives of the invisible women of a neighborhood in Athens, Georgia, that has seen better times. ... In a remarkably cohesive weave of interlocking stories, Lauren Cobb gives us a compelling look at our own lives.”

According to Susan Rebecca White, author of A Place at the Table, “Lauren Cobb’s Boulevard Women deftly explores the inner lives of women the world has largely overlooked. As the foundations of their lives shift and sometimes crumble, Cobb allows her characters to grow and change rather than to be knocked down. Cobb’s warm and wise heart guides them, and us, to a renewed sense of home.”

David Masiel, author of The Western Limit of the World, writes, “I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down until I’d finished, and I couldn’t get it out of my mind even then.” 

Award-winning novelist Sheri Joseph says, “Boulevard Women is a mesmerizing collection of linked short stories, with characters so real, so familiar, that they lingered in my thoughts long after I closed the book. Set against the backdrop of race and religion in the contemporary South, this literary debut reveals an impressive stylistic ranger, from wry social comedy reminiscent of Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge to the poetic lyricism of To Kill a Mockingbird. ... an entrancing world that I didn’t want to leave.”

And Lorraine Lopez, author of Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories, adds, “Lauren Cobb’s unforgettable characters grow and change, unfolding and expanding to reveal unexpected dimensions and complexity, great depth and wit, in ways that will astonish and delight.”

Lauren Cobb’s short fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals, including the Beloit Fiction Review, Green Mountains Review, Arts & Letters and the Robert Olen Butler Prize Stories for 2007. Her awards include Another Chicago Magazine’s Chicago Literary Award and second place in the Second Annual Southern California Review Fiction Award. Her collection of linked short stories, titled Boulevard Women, received the 2012 G. S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Fiction and was published by the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s BkMK Press in December 2013. Originally from Los Angeles, Lauren Cobb now lives in northern Minnesota, where she is a professor of English at Bemidji State University. She is currently working on a literary murder mystery.

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GUERNICA ANNUAL PRINT JOURNAL LAUNCH PARTY

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on October 31st, 2014

Guernica Annual Print Edition (Guerinca + Haymarket Press)

Join us for the Los Angeles launch of the Guernica Annual at Skylight Books.

This year Guernica celebrates ten years of award-winning, free online content. Guernica's first-ever print edition (published in partnership with Haymarket Books) contains fearless reportage, memoir, compelling interviews, and emerging and established poets and fiction writers. This special evening consists of readings from the Annual by local writers and a conversation with the staff and editors of Guernica.

Readings from:
Matthew Specktor (American Dream Machine, That Summertime Sound), Katherine Taylor (Rules for Saying Goodbye) Michael Archer (editor-in-chief and co-founder of Guernica), Lisa Lucas (publisher of Guernica) and Kima Jones (NPR, Pank, The Rumpus).

This event is free and open to the public. All proceeds from the Guernica Annual will go towards compensating writers and editors, and maintaining Guernica's free online access.

Matthew Specktor is the author of the novels American Dream Machine and That Summertime Sound, as well as a nonfiction book about the motion picture The Sting. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Paris Review, The Believer, Tin House, Black Clock, and Salon, among other publications. He is a senior editor and founding member of the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Katherine Taylor is the author of the novel Valley Fever, a cross-generational tragicomedy set in California's wine-soaked Central Valley, to be published June 2015 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.  She is also the author ofRules for Saying Goodbye, a novel of a young woman's disassembling and reassembling herself, published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux in 2007. Katherine's stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Elle, Town & Country, and Ploughshares, among other publications. She has won a Pushcart Prize and the McGinnis Ritchie Award for Fiction. She has a B.A. from University of Southern California and an MFA from Columbia University, where she was a Graduate Writing Fellow. Katherine lives in Los Angeles.

Michael Archer is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-founder of Guernica. His work has appeared in The Huffington Post, Publishers Weekly ,Biography, Daily Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Woman’s Day, Men’s Edge, and The New Yorker, among many others. His fiction has appeared in various journals. He has taught in the Czech Republic (Charles University), Costa Rica, and China. He currently teaches English and speech at the City University of New York.

Lisa Lucas is the Publisher of Guernica. Previously, she served as the Director of Education at Tribeca Film Institute and consulted for various non-profit arts and cultural organizations, including Sundance Film Festival, San Francisco Film Society and the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Lucas is also co-chair of the non-fiction committee for the Brooklyn Book Festival.

Kima Jones has received fellowships from PEN Center USA Emerging Voices, Kimbilio Center for African American Fiction and The MacDowell Colony. She has been published at NPR, PANK and The Rumpus among others. Kima lives in Los Angeles and is writing her first poetry collection, The Anatomy of Forgiveness.

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ERIC KAPLAN discusses his book DOES SANTA EXIST? A PHILOSPHICAL INVESTIGATION

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on October 26th, 2014

Does Santa Exist? A Philosophical Investigation (Dutton Books)

A humorous philosophical investigation into the existence of Santa--from a co-executive producer of "The Big Bang Theory," the #1 sitcom on television.

Metaphysics isn't ordinarily much of a laughing matter. But in the hands of acclaimed comedy writer and scholarEric Kaplan, a search for the truth about old St. Nick becomes a deeply insightful, laugh-out-loud discussion of the way some things exist but may not really be there. Just like Santa and his reindeer.

Even after we outgrow the jolly fellow, the essential paradox persists: There are some things we dearly believe in that are not universally acknowledged as real. In Does Santa Exist? Kaplan shows how philosophy giants Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein strove to smooth over this uncomfortable meeting of the real and unreal--and failed. From there he turns to mysticism's attempts to resolve such paradoxes, surveying Buddhism, Taoism, early Christianity, Theosophy, and even the philosophers at UC Berkeley under whom he studied. Finally, this brilliant comic writer alights on--surprise--comedy as the ultimate resolution of the fundamental paradoxes of life, using examples from "The Big Bang Theory," Monty Python's cheese shop sketch, and many other pop-culture sources.

Finally Kaplan delves deeper into what this means, from how our physical brains work to his own personal confrontations with life's biggest questions: If we're all going to die, what's the point of anything? What is a perfect moment? What can you say about God? Or Santa?

Praise for Does Santa Exist?

"Eric Kaplan's Does Santa Exist? is the funniest book of philosophy since...well, ever."--Matt Groening, creator of "The Simpsons" and "Futurama "and author of "Life in Hell"

"If you can put this book down, you should see a doctor. Kaplan's message burrows into the mind, beats up a few beliefs and then leaves with a triumphant bang."--Michael Gazzaniga, Professor of Psychology University of California Santa Barbara, Director of the SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind, and Founder of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society

"Exceptionally interesting, rigorous and I found it not only weirdly funny but deeply moving."--Hubert Dreyfus, Professor of Philosophy, University of California Berkeley, Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

"This is truly a book that I wish I had written. Eric brings great clarity of thought to some of the deepest questions of the mind and our understanding of the world. And he's really funny." --Daniel Levitin, New York Times Bestselling author of This is Your Brain on Music, Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience at McGill University, Dean of Arts and Humanities, Minerva Schools at KGI

"Eric Kaplan is more than a talented comedy writer. He is a deep soul, an intellectual master, and a brilliant communicator of the subtleties of the intersections between faith and logic. He will have you laughing, thinking harder than you've ever thought, and falling in love with the process of intellectual exploration all over again. A masterpiece."--Mayim Bialik, PhD (neuroscience, UCLA), actress known for her roles as Blossom Russo in "Blossom" and Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler in "The Big Bang Theory"

Eric Kaplan is a co-executive producer of (and writer for) the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory. Previously he wrote for The Late Show with David Letterman, Futurama, and Flight of the Concords. Kaplan graduated from Harvard and is currently completing his dissertation in philosophy at UC Berkeley.

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REBBECCA BROWN reads from her novel THEY BECOME HER and PATTY SEYBURN reads from her poetry collection PERFECTA

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores by skylightbooks on October 26th, 2014

They Become Her (What Books)                                                  

Perfecta (What Books)

Join us tonight for the fall launch party for one of Skylight Books' favorite local presses, What Books!

Rebbecca Brown's debut novel, They Become Her, received Honorable Mention in the 2009-2010 Starcherone Innovative Fiction contest. It tells the story of Delia Bacon, the first to propose that Shakespeare did not write his own works and whose own literary ambition inspired a life filled with fame and scandal. Three fictional biographies of contemporary writers--all sharing the name Rebbecca Brown--become involved in Delia's quest, complicating who is writing whose fictional biography. They Become Her is poetically rich, provocatively questioning identity, the relationships between texts and their authors, and the predicaments in which many artists inevitably find themselves. It invites a self-reflexive entanglement with the reader, who won't be able to resist playing along to the unexpected end.

Smart and funny, gorgeous and frightened. Whether at the racetrack or in the cul-de-sac. Asking questions of the flawed self or of the idyllic, Patty Seyburn's poems look headlong at the living world and use all of it. The poems are winding and discursive but also include short, eye-rolling lyrics. Dinner party politics join with lines from Hass, the Bible, and the memory of Detroit. Characters in Seyburn's poems do what we all do, only with the skepticism of Plato.

Rebbecca Brown received her Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2007. Her work has appeared in journals such as American Literary Review, Confrontation, 88: A Journal of Contemporary American Poetry, Eclipse, Requited, H_ngm_n and Ekleksographia. She received an Honorable Mention from the Academy of American Poets, the Rachel Sherwood Prize for Poetry, First Place in the LACC Writing Contest for Creative Nonfiction, and has taught as a Fulbright-Nehru Visiting Lecturer at Kannur University in Kerala, India. THEY BECOME HER is her first novel. She lives in New York City and teaches at Hunter College.

Patty Seyburn has published four books of poems, Perfeccta (What Books, 2014), Hilarity (New Issues Press, 2009), Mechanical Cluster (Ohio State University Press, 2002), and Diasporadic (Helicon Nine Editions, 1998). She teaches at California State University, Long Beach, and co-edits Pool: A Journal of Poetry.

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