Archive for biography

SKYLIT: Daniel Mendelsohn, “THREE RINGS”

Posted in literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, Memoir, history, biography, skylit by skylightbooks on September 14th, 2020

In this genre-defying book, best-selling memoirist and critic Daniel Mendelsohn explores the mysterious links between the randomness of the lives we lead and the artfulness of the stories we tell.

Combining memoir, biography, history, and literary criticism, Three Rings weaves together the stories of three exiled writers who turned to the classics of the past to create masterpieces of their own--works that pondered the nature of narrative itself. Erich Auerbach, the Jewish philologist who fled Hitler's Germany and wrote his classic study of Western literature, Mimesis, in Istanbul... Fran ois F nelon, the seventeenth-century French archbishop whose ingenious sequel to the Odyssey, The Adventures of Telemachus--a veiled critique of the Sun King and the best-selling book in Europe for one hundred years--resulted in his banishment... and the German novelist W. G. Sebald, self-exiled to England, whose distinctively meandering narratives explore Odyssean themes of displacement, nostalgia, and separation from home.

Intertwined with these tales of exile and artistic crisis is an account of Mendelsohn's struggles to write two of his own books--a family saga of the Holocaust and a memoir about reading the Odyssey with his elderly father--that are haunted by tales of oppression and wandering. As Three Rings moves to its startling conclusion, a climactic revelation about the way in which the lives of its three heroes were linked across borders, languages, and centuries forces the reader to reconsider the relationship between narrative and history, art and life.

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Produced by Maddie Gobbo & Michael Kowaleski

Theme: "I Love All My Friends," a new, unreleased demo by Fragile Gang.

Visit https://www.skylightbooks.com/event for future offerings from the Skylight Books Events team.




SKYLIT: Megan Margulies, “MY CAPTAIN AMERICA” w/ Eva Hagberg,

In the 1990s, Megan Margulies’s Upper West Side neighborhood was marked by addicts shooting up in subway stations, frequent burglaries, and the “Wild Man of 96th Street,” who set fires under cars and heaved rocks through stained glass church windows. The world inside her parents’ tiny one-bedroom apartment was hardly a respite, with a family of five—including some loud personalities—eventually occupying the 550-square-foot space.

Salvation arrived in the form of her spirited grandfather, Daddy Joe, whose midtown studio became a second home to Megan. There, he listened to her woes, fed her Hungry Man frozen dinners, and simply let her be. His living room may have been dominated by the drawing table, notes, and doodles that marked him as Joe Simon the cartoonist. But for Megan, he was always Daddy Joe: an escape from her increasingly hectic home, a nonjudgmental voice whose sense of humor was as dry as his farfel, and a steady presence in a world that felt off balance.

Evoking New York City both in the 1980s and ’90s and during the Golden Age of comics in the 1930s and ’40s, My Captain America flashes back from Megan’s story to chart the life and career of Rochester-native Joe Simon, from his early days retouching publicity photos and doing spot art for magazines, to his partnership with Jack Kirby at Timely Comics (the forerunner of Marvel Comics), which resulted in the creation of beloved characters like Captain America, the Boy Commandos, and Fighting American.

 

Margulies is in conversation with Eva Hagberg, author of How to Be Loved

 

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Produced by Maddie Gobbo & Michael Kowaleski

 

Theme: "I Love All My Friends," a new, unreleased demo by Fragile Gang.

 

Visit https://www.skylightbooks.com/event for future offerings from the Skylight Books Events team




SKYLIT: Erica C. Barnett, “QUITTER” w/ Maer Roshan

Posted in literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, Memoir, nonfiction, biography by skylightbooks on July 31st, 2020

Erica C. Barnett had her first sip of alcohol when she was thirteen, and she quickly developed a taste for drinking to oblivion with her friends. In her late twenties, her addiction became inescapable. Volatile relationships, blackouts, and unsuccessful stints in detox defined her life, with the vodka bottles she hid throughout her apartment and offices acting as both her tormentors and closest friends.

By the time she was in her late thirties, Erica Barnett had run the gauntlet of alcoholism. She had recovered and relapsed time and again, but after each new program or detox center would find herself far from rehabilitated. "Rock bottom," Barnett writes, "is a lie." It is always possible, she learned, to go lower than your lowest point. She found that the terms other alcoholics used to describe the trajectory of their addiction--"rock bottom" and "moment of clarity"--and the mottos touted by Alcoholics Anonymous, such as "let go and let God" and "you're only as sick as your secrets"--didn't correspond to her experience and could actually be detrimental.

With remarkably brave and vulnerable writing, Barnett expands on her personal story to confront the dire state of addiction in America, the rise of alcoholism in American women in the last century, and the lack of rehabilitation options available to addicts. At a time when opioid addiction is a national epidemic and one in twelve Americans suffers from alcohol abuse disorder, Quitter is essential reading for our age and an ultimately hopeful story of Barnett's own hard-fought path to sobriety.

 

Barnett is in conversation with writer, editor, and entrepreneur Maer Roshan.

 

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Produced by Maddie Gobbo & Michael Kowaleski

 

Theme: "I Love All My Friends," a new, unreleased demo by Fragile Gang.

 

Visit https://www.skylightbooks.com/event for future offerings from the Skylight Books Events team.




LIVE ON CROWDCAST: Tom Rastrelli, “CONFESSIONS OF A GAY PRIEST” w/ Janet Finch

Posted in literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, Memoir, religion, LGBTQ, biography, queer by skylightbooks on July 3rd, 2020

Tom Rastrelli is a survivor of clergy-perpetrated sexual abuse who then became a priest in the early days of the Catholic Church’s ongoing scandals. Confessions of a Gay Priest divulges the clandes­tine inner workings of the seminary, providing an intimate and unapologetic look into the psychosexual and spiritual dynamics of celibacy and lays bare the “formation” system that perpetuates the cycle of abuse and cover-up that continues today. 

Under the guidance of a charismatic college campus minister, Rastrelli sought to reconcile his homosexuality and childhood sexual abuse. When he felt called to the priesthood, Rastrelli be­gan the process of “priestly discernment.” Priests welcomed him into a confusing clerical culture where public displays of piety, celibacy, and homophobia masked a closeted underworld in which elder priests preyed upon young recruits. 

Rastrelli is in conversation with Janet Finch, author of White Oleander and teacher of fiction writing.

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Produced by Maddie Gobbo & Michael Kowaleski

Theme: "I Love All My Friends," a new, unreleased demo by Fragile Gang.

Visit https://www.skylightbooks.com/event for future offerings from the Skylight Books Events team.




LIVE ON ZOOM: Meredith Talusan, “FAIREST” w/ Amber Tamblyn

Posted in literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, Memoir, transgender, LGBTQ, biography, trans by skylightbooks on June 22nd, 2020

Fairest is a memoir about a precocious boy with albinism, a “sun child” from a rural Philippine village, who would grow up to become a woman in America. Coping with the strain of parental neglect and the elusive promise of U.S. citizenship, Meredith Talusan found childhood comfort from her devoted grandmother, a grounding force as she was treated by others with special preference or public curiosity. As an immigrant to the United States, Talusan came to be perceived as white. An academic scholarship to Harvard provided access to elite circles of privilege but required Talusan to navigate through the complex spheres of race, class, sexuality, and her place within the gay community.

She emerged as an artist and an activist questioning the boundaries of gender. Talusan realized she did not want to be confined to a prescribed role as a man, and transitioned to become a woman, despite the risk of losing a man she deeply loved. Throughout her journey, Talusan shares poignant and powerful episodes of desirability and love that will remind readers of works such as Call Me By Your Name and Giovanni’s Room. Her evocative reflections will shift our own perceptions of love, identity, gender, and the fairness of life.

Talusan is joined in conversation by Amber Tamblyn, an Emmy and Golden globe nominated actress, writer, director, and the author of six books.

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Produced by Maddie Gobbo & Michael Kowaleski

Theme: "I Love All My Friends," a new, unreleased demo by Fragile Gang.




Harry Dodge, “MY METEORITE”

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, Memoir, art, biography by skylightbooks on June 12th, 2020

Is love a force akin to gravity? A kind of invisible fabric which enables communications through space and time? Artist Harry Dodge finds himself contemplating such questions as his father declines from dementia and he rekindles a bewildering but powerful relationship with his birth mother. A meteorite Dodge orders on eBay becomes a mysterious catalyst for a reckoning with the vital forces of matter, the nature of consciousness, and the bafflements of belonging.

Structured around a series of formative, formidable coincidences in Dodge’s life, My Meteorite journeys with stylistic bravura from Barthes to Blade Runner, from punk to Pale Fire. It is a wild, incandescent book that creates a literary universe of its own. Blending the personal and the philosophical, the raw and the surreal, the transgressive and the heartbreaking, Harry Dodge revitalizes our world, illuminating the magic just under the surface of daily life.

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Produced by Maddie Gobbo & Michael Kowaleski

Theme: "I Love All My Friends," a new, unreleased demo by Fragile Gang.




Mary Ann Cherry, “MORRIS KIGHT”

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, LGBTQ, biography, queer by skylightbooks on June 2nd, 2020

No matter how unlikely it is that an effective gay movement could have been born from an upper middle-class, law-abiding, conservative populace, there are those who refuse to identify gay history with a liberal ideology. Obtuse efforts are underway to deny the “hippie” element that makes up a large part of the DNA of gay rights. Activist Morris Kight, a unique force of nature and the grand panjandrum of post-Stonewall gay liberation, represents a large part of that hippie DNA. He was a complicated character with an instinct for social services and a tendency towards self aggrandizement. His ego stood out in a room full of egos. In a time before “gay pride,” Kight quite deliberately and openly shunned the shame that was expected of homosexuals. He created organizations, sat on boards, worked with committees, and lead seminal protests that created a new quality of life for homosexuals and, eventually, the first generation of never-closeted Gays. This book does not provide all the answers on the history of gay liberation; however, it may pose a few new questions.

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Produced by Maddie Gobbo & Michael Kowaleski

Theme: "I Love All My Friends," a new, unreleased demo by Fragile Gang.




LIVE ON ZOOM: Porochista Khakpour, “BROWN ALBUM” w/ Myriam Gurba

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, Memoir, nonfiction, biography by skylightbooks on May 25th, 2020

Novelist Porochista Khakpour's family moved to Los Angeles after fleeing the Iranian Revolution, giving up their successes only to be greeted by an alienating culture. Growing up as an immigrant in America means that one has to make one's way through a confusing tangle of conflicting cultures and expectations. And Porochista is pulled between the glitzy culture of Tehrangeles, an enclave of wealthy Iranians and Persians in LA, her own family's modest life and culture, and becoming an assimilated American. Porochista rebels--she bleaches her hair and flees to the East Coast, where she finds her community: other people writing and thinking at the fringes. But, 9/11 happens and with horror, Porochista watches from her apartment window as the towers fall. Extremism and fear of the Middle East rises in the aftermath and then again with the election of Donald Trump. Porochista is forced to finally grapple with what it means to be Middle-Eastern and Iranian, an immigrant, and a refugee in our country today.

Brown Album is a stirring collection of essays, at times humorous and at times profound, drawn from more than a decade of Porochista's work and with new material included. Altogether, it reveals the tolls that immigrant life in this country can take on a person and the joys that life can give.

Khakpour is in conversation with Myriam Gurba, a writer, spoken-word artist, and visual artist.

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Produced by Maddie Gobbo & Michael Kowaleski

Theme: "I Love All My Friends," a new, unreleased demo by Fragile Gang.




Handsell, Ep. 5, “Skylight Update, Ingrid, and Liz”

Posted in literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, Memoir, biography, Handsell by skylightbooks on May 16th, 2020

What a week! With social distancing measures beginning to relax a touch, Mick and Maddie talk about what it's going to be like for the Skylighters as they prep the store for curbside pickup. Mary comes on for an official Skylight Update and briefs us on a couple different ways we can support the store. Ingrid recommends a book, and Maddie comes back for a great conversation with Liz from Oakland's East Bay Booksellers. 

Staff Pick:

Ingrid - Tiger, Tiger by Margaux Fragoso

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Produced by Maddie Gobbo & Michael Kowaleski

Theme: "I Love All My Friends," a new, unreleased demo by Fragile Gang.




Lane Moore, “HOW TO BE ALONE”

Posted in skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, Memoir, nonfiction, biography by skylightbooks on May 11th, 2020

Lane Moore is a rare performer who is as impressive onstage—whether hosting her iconic show Tinder Live or being the enigmatic front woman of It Was Romance—as she is on the page, as both a former writer for The Onion and an award-winning sex and relationships editor for Cosmopolitan. But her story has had its obstacles, including being her own parent, living in her car as a teenager, and moving to New York City to pursue her dreams. Through it all, she looked to movies, TV, and music as the family and support systems she never had.

From spending the holidays alone to having better “stranger luck” than with those closest to her to feeling like the last hopeless romantic on earth, Lane reveals her powerful and entertaining journey in all its candor, anxiety, and ultimate acceptance—with humor always her bolstering force and greatest gift.

How to Be Alone is a must-read for anyone whose childhood still feels unresolved, who spends more time pretending to have friends online than feeling close to anyone in real life, who tries to have genuine, deep conversations in a roomful of people who would rather you not. Above all, it’s a book for anyone who desperately wants to feel less alone and a little more connected through reading her words.

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Produced by Maddie Gobbo & Michael Kowaleski

Theme: "I Love All My Friends," a new, unreleased demo by Fragile Gang.




MariNaomi, “DISTANT STARS” w/ Myriam Gurba

Posted in skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, Comics/Graphic Novels, Memoir, LGBTQ, art, biography by skylightbooks on April 9th, 2020

In the final volume of the Life on Earth trilogy, celebrated cartoonist MariNaomi concludes her tale of growing up, falling in and out of love, and possible alien interventions. Shy, self-deprecating Paula Navarro is coming into her own—and it's making her new girlfriend, Johanna, a little nervous. Paula's former friend Emily Baker is learning to look inward. Brett Hathaway, Emily and Paula's mutual ex-hook-up, is torn about reconnecting with his estranged dad. And Nigel Jones is smitten with his tutor, Claudia—whose disappearance and reappearance remains a mystery to everyone around her. As Claudia and her guardians put the final plan in motion, they'll reveal the truth that links everyone's fate.

MariNaomi is in conversation with Myriam Gurba, a writer, a spoken-word artist, and a visual artist.




Bernice Steinhardt, “MEMORIES OF SURVIVAL”

Posted in literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, nonfiction, art, biography by skylightbooks on April 8th, 2020

This stunning collection of fabric and embroidered panels depicts Esther Nisenthal Krinitz’s remarkable journey of living through the Holocaust in Poland. At the age of fifteen, she and her thirteen-year-old sister separated from their family and went into hiding, assuming the identities of Catholic farmgirls. Though untrained as an artist but a skilled seamstress, Esther picked up needle and thread forty years later to retell her childhood memories. At once naïve and infinitely complex, these images reveal both the extreme horrors of war, and the cherished family memories shared before the war began. Told in Esther’s own words, with commentary written by her daughter, Bernice Steinhardt, this is an unforgettable look back to a time and events that must never be forgotten.

 




Erin Khar, “STRUNG OUT” w/ Jen Pastiloff

Posted in skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, Memoir, nonfiction, biography by skylightbooks on April 2nd, 2020

Growing up in Los Angeles as the only child of divorced parents, Erin Khar, often consumed with loneliness, looked for an escape from the pervasive belief that she wasn't enough—not enough to keep her parents together or her mother from depression—and yet, she never shared with anyone this private sadness. Instead, she hid behind the façade of a perfect childhood filled with good grades, a popular group of friends, and horseback riding. By the time she was thirteen, the act becoming too difficult to keep up, and she started experimenting with her grandmother's expired valium, quickly followed by heroin. The drug allowed her to feel the calm she was missing from her life and suppress all the heavy feelings she couldn't understand. Heroin, while keeping her from other forms of self-harm, became the addiction that destroyed her.

Khar is in conversation with Jen Pastiloff, who travels the world with her unique workshop On Being Human, a hybrid of yoga-related movement, writing, sharing aloud, letting the snot fly, and the occasional dance party.




Jenn Shapland, “MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CARSON MCCULLERS” w/

Posted in literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, Memoir, nonfiction, biography by skylightbooks on March 24th, 2020

While working as an intern in the archives at the Harry Ransom Center, Jenn Shapland encounters the love letters of Carson McCullers and a woman named Annemarie—letters that are tender, intimate, and unabashed in their feelings. Shapland recognizes herself in the letters’ language—but does not see McCullers as history has portrayed her.

And so, Shapland is compelled to undertake a recovery of the full narrative and language of McCullers’s life: she wades through the therapy transcripts; she stays at McCullers’s childhood home, where she lounges in her bathtub and eats delivery pizza; she relives McCullers’s days at her beloved Yaddo. As Shapland reckons with the expanding and collapsing distance between her and McCullers, she sees how McCullers’s story has become a way to articulate something about herself. The results reveal something entirely new not only about this one remarkable, walleyed life, but about the way we tell queer love stories.

In My Autobiography of Carson McCullers, Jenn Shapland interweaves her own story with Carson McCullers’s to create a vital new portrait of one of America’s most beloved writers, and shows us how the writers we love and the stories we tell about ourselves make us who we are.

Shapland is in conversation with Andy Campbell, PhD, an art historian, critic, and curator.




Sands Hall, “RELCAIMING MY DECADE LOST IN SCIENTOLOGY” w/ Maggie Rowe

Posted in skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, Memoir, biography by skylightbooks on March 19th, 2020

In the secluded canyons of Hollywood, Sands Hall—a young woman from a literary family striving to forge her own way as an artist—finds herself increasingly drawn toward the certainty that Scientology appears to offer. Her time in the Church, the 1980s, includes the secretive illness and death of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, and the ascension of David Miscavige. In Reclaiming My Decade Lost in Scientology, Hall compellingly reveals what drew her into the religion—what she found intriguing and useful—and how she came to confront its darker sides and escape.

Hall is in conversation with Maggie Rowe, who has performed in and produced the Com­edy Central stage show sitnspin, Los Angeles’s longest running spoken-word show, having taken the reins from creator Jill Soloway in 2002.





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