Archive for literature

Leslie Jamison, “THE RECOVERING”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, Memoir, essays, journalism, criticism by skylightbooks on July 18th, 2018

With its deeply personal and seamless blend of memoir, cultural history, literary criticism, and journalistic reportage, The Recovering turns our understanding of the traditional addiction narrative on its head, demonstrating that the story of recovery can be every bit as electrifying as the train wreck itself. Leslie Jamison deftly excavates the stories we tell about addiction--both her own and others'--and examines what we want these stories to do, and what happens when they fail us. 
All the while, she offers a fascinating look at the larger history of the recovery movement, and at the literary and artistic geniuses whose lives and works were shaped by alcoholism and substance dependence, including John Berryman, Jean Rhys, Raymond Carver, Billie Holiday, David Foster Wallace, and Denis Johnson, as well as brilliant figures lost to obscurity but newly illuminated here.

For the power of her striking language and the sharpness of her piercing observations, Leslie Jamison has been compared to such iconic writers as Joan Didion and Susan Sontag. Yet her utterly singular voice also offers something new. With enormous empathy and wisdom, Jamison has given us nothing less than the story of addiction and recovery in America writ large, a definitive and revelatory account that will resonate for years to come.

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Michelle Dean, “SHARP”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, nonfiction by skylightbooks on July 17th, 2018

Women in media must still, unfortunately, fight for their due and today they call out mansplainers on Twitter, wield power on the opinion pages, and start a movement with a single hashtag. But before that, there were women writers who shouted down the prevailing narrative of sexism and nepotism by taking to the printed page alone. Acclaimed literary and cultural critic Michelle Dean has expertly rendered a portrait of ten such revolutionary writers from the 1920s to the 1990s in her debut work, Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion. We all know their names: Dorothy Parker, Rebecca West, Hannah Arendt, Mary McCarthy, Susan Sontag, Pauline Kael, Joan Didion, Nora Ephron, Renata Adler, Janet Malcolm. These women are united by what Dean terms as “sharpness,” the ability to cut to the quick with precision of thought and wit, a claiming of power through writing rather than position.

Sharp is a vibrant and rich depiction of the intellectual beau monde of twentieth-century New York, where gossip-filled parties at night gave out to literary slanging-matches in the pages of the Partisan Review or the New York Review of Books as well as a considered portrayal of how these women came to be so influential in a climate where women were treated with derision by the critical establishment. Dean traces the lives of these extraordinary women as they intertwine and cut through the cultural and intellectual history of America, recounting friendships and rivalries, absent fathers and fractured families, professional triumphs and personal disappointments. Dean notes the essays and books that made their names, how their styles changed over the course of their careers, and how their work was received by their contemporaries.

Dean is joined in conversation by Carina Chocano, frequent contributor to the New York Times Magazine and Elle.

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Jonathan Ames, “YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on July 17th, 2018

Joe has witnessed things that cannot be erased. A former FBI agent and Marine, his abusive childhood has left him damaged beyond repair. He has completely withdrawn from the world and earns his living rescuing girls who have been kidnapped into the sex trade.

When he's hired to save the daughter of a corrupt New York senator held captive at a Manhattan brothel, he stumbles into a dangerous web of conspiracy, and he pays the price. As Joe's small web of associates are picked off one by one, he realizes that he has no choice but to take the fight to the men who want him dead.

Brutal and redemptive in equal measure, You Were Never Really Here is a toxic shot of a thriller, laced with corruption, revenge and the darkest of inner demons.

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Joe Donnelly, “L.A. MAN”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, Memoir by skylightbooks on July 17th, 2018

During his many years writing for publications such as LA Weekly, the Los Angeles TimesSlakeSurfer's Journal and more, Joe Donnelly has driven to Texas with Wes Anderson, shot pool with Sean Penn, surfed with Chris Malloy, sparred (verbally) with Christian Bale, gone on a date with Carmen Electra, and listened to tall tales told by Werner Herzog. These profiles, which also include encounters with Drew Barrymore, Lou Reed, Craig Stecyk, the wolf OR7, the Z-boys and others who have indelibly stamped the cultural landscape, drill through the facade of fame to get at the core humanity behind the myth-making. L.A. Man manages to show Los Angeles' biggest export in a light in which it is rarely seen. 

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Mark Sarvas, “MEMENTO PARK”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on July 16th, 2018

After receiving an unexpected call from the Australian consulate, Matt Santos becomes aware of a painting that he believes was looted from his family in Hungary during the Second World War. To recover the painting, he must repair his strained relationship with his harshly judgmental father, uncover his family history, and restore his connection to his own Judaism. Along the way to illuminating the mysteries of his past, Matt is torn between his doting girlfriend, Tracy, and his alluring attorney, Rachel, with whom he travels to Budapest to unearth the truth about the painting and, in turn, his family.

As his journey progresses, Matt’s revelations are accompanied by equally consuming and imaginative meditations on the painting and the painter at the center of his personal drama, Budapest Street Scene by Ervin Kálmán. By the time Memento Park reaches its conclusion, Matt’s narrative is as much about family history and father-son dynamics as it is about the nature of art itself, and the infinite ways we come to understand ourselves through it.

Of all the questions asked by Mark Sarvas’s Memento Park—about family and identity, about art and history—a central, unanswerable predicament lingers: How do we move forward when the past looms unreasonably large?

Joining Sarvas in conversation with Janet Fitch, author of  the novels White Oleander, an Oprah Book Club selection, Paint It Black, and most recently The Revolution of Marina M.

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OTIS COLLEGE MFA WRITING PROGRAM

Posted in literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, Short Stories by skylightbooks on July 16th, 2018

Join us for a special evening as students from Otis College or Art and Design's MFA Writing Program share their poetry and prose.

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Bruce Holbert, “WHISKEY”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on July 15th, 2018

Whiskey is the story of two brothers, their parents, and three wrecked marriages, a searching book about family life at its most distressed—about kinship, failure, enough liquor to get through it all, and ultimately a dark and hard-earned grace. With the gruff humor of Cormac McCarthy and a dash of the madcap irony of Charles Portis, and a strong, authentic literary voice all his own, Bruce Holbert traverses the harsh landscape of America’s northwestern border and finds a family unlike any you’ve met before.

Holbert is joined by Elizabeth McCracken, author of five books: the story collections Here’s Your Hat What’s Your Hurry and Thunderstruck & Other Stories, the novels The Giant’s House and Niagara Falls All Over Again, and the memoir An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination.

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A.G. Lombardo, “GRAFFITI PALACE”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction, historical fiction by skylightbooks on July 15th, 2018

It’s August 1965 and Los Angeles is scorching. Americo Monk, a street-haunting aficionado of graffiti, is frantically trying to return home to the makeshift harbor community (assembled from old shipping containers) where he lives with his girlfriend, Karmann. But this is during the Watts Riots, and although his status as a chronicler of all things underground garners him free passage through the territories fiercely controlled by gangs, his trek is nevertheless diverted.

Embarking on an exhilarating, dangerous, and at times paranormal journey, Monk crosses paths with a dizzying array of representatives from Los Angeles subcultures, including Chinese gangsters, graffiti bombers, witches, the Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad, and others. Graffiti Palace is the story of a city transmogrified by the upsurge of its citizens, and Monk is our tour guide, cataloging and preserving the communities that, though surreptitious and unseen, nevertheless formed the backbone of 1960s Los Angeles.

With an astounding generosity of imagery and imagination, Graffiti Palace heralds the birth of a major voice in fiction. A. G. Lombardo sees the writings on our walls, and with Graffiti Palace he has provided an allegorical paean to a city in revolt.

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Ramona Ausubel and Michael Andreasen

Posted in literature, book stores, books, fiction, Short Stories, anthology by skylightbooks on July 13th, 2018

Awayland

Some of them previously published in The New Yorker and The Paris Review, this collection of eleven delightfully idiosyncratic and elegantly structured stories spans the globe and showcases Ramona Ausubel’s unique ability to tackle the “frustrations and fantasies of being alive” (Publishers Weekly). Her subtle touch of magic used to confront the mysteries of death, love and longing make the stories “weird and wonderful” (New York Times) and perfect for fans of Kelly Link, Karen Russell and Helen Oyeyemi. Ausubel, however, continues to occupy a space as a writer that is all her own—delivering stories that manage to be both “highly imaginative and philosophical in scope” (Refinery29), wildly unconventional yet universally resonant, darkly comic yet tender and soulful. Ausubel’s uncanny ability to simultaneously amuse, mesmerize, move and inspire, makes Awayland a deeply satisfying read that will linger with you in powerful ways.

The Seabeast Takes a Lover

Observe: the Fiction of the Future. See it carry our elders away to the ocean. Note how it pulls wires from our alien brains. Watch as a ship is slowly pulled under determined by an amorous kraken. Meet the happy, headless girl. Visit the funhouse that is Michael Andreasen's wild, brilliant mind. Find out how surprisingly familiar these bizarre scenarios feel; how true to life; and how delighted you are to find that the carnival barker's voice has drawn you into a ride you didn't realize you wanted to go on. Squeeze the guard rails, and whoop your way through the curves. Then, get back in line and go again.

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Farrah Penn, “TWELVE STEPS TO NORMAL”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on July 12th, 2018

Eight months ago, Kira's father was sent to rehab for alcoholism and she was forced to move in with her aunt across the country. She left behind everything--her best friends, her boyfriend, her dance team, and the life she'd known and loved. Now her father's done with rehab and wants her back home. But the normal life she once knew proves elusive--her friends are distant, one of them is dating her ex, and her dad brought home three strangers from rehab to live with them.

Is there any way to get back the life she once had? Kira embarks on her own twelve-step program to try to find some normalcy. But somewhere along the way, she learns that while some broken things can't be put back exactly the way they were, they can be repaired, and sometimes made even stronger.

Life, love, and loss come crashing together in this achingly authentic debut by Farrah Penn that will catch you and hold you close till the very end.

Penn is in conversation with Nicola Yoon, the author of The Sun Is Also a Star and Everything, Everything.

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Mallory Ortberg, “THE MERRY SPINSTER”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on July 11th, 2018

Sinister and inviting, familiar and alien all at the same time, The Merry Spinster updates traditional children's stories and fairy tales with elements of psychological horror, emotional clarity, and a keen sense of feminist mischief. Unfalteringly faithful to its beloved source material, The Merry Spinster also illuminates the unsuspected, and frequently, alarming emotional complexities at play in the stories we tell ourselves, and each other, as we tuck ourselves in for the night.

Author Mallory Ortberg is joined in conversation by Michelle Dean, a journalist, critic, and the recipient of the National Book Critics Circle’s 2016 Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.

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Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, “CALL ME ZEBRA”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on July 5th, 2018

National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi has been hailed as an author “on the verge of developing a whole new literature movement” (Bustle) and, now, her new novel, Call Me Zebra, affirms her “brilliant, demented” (Kirkus) genius as she explores the ways in which we cope with grief, our unresolved histories, and the tangled depths of love.

More than a decade after fleeing Iran during the height of the Iraq War, Zebra, now an orphan, must face life in exile alone, with literature as her only armor. To reconcile her past and uncertain future, Zebra embarks on a literary pilgrimage, leaving America to retrace her family’s dislocation. As she traverses the vast expanse of the Western Mediterranean, she’s guided by the sage words of Cervantes,Borges, Stendhal, and Dali. But her journey back to Iran quickly derails in Barcelona when Ludo, a stalwart realist mystified by her intensity, enters the picture and the two begin a sexy, if fraught, affair.

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Tom Macher, “HALFWAY”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, Memoir by skylightbooks on July 3rd, 2018

In his late teens Tom Macher rebelled against a world that seemed stacked against him. Raised in a broken family and estranged from an absentee father suffering with AIDS, Macher turned to alcohol to escape the painful loneliness of his reality.

Macher captures the trials of sobriety—suicide, death, recovery—and the unusual beauty that forms in the bonds of those who suffer. In visceral, striking prose, he introduces the unforgettable characters he meets along the way, from a former child actor, a young teen struggling with schizophrenia, a tough-love addiction counselor, a sex-addicted social worker, to Matt O, who became Macher’s loyal friend and wingman. Raw, disarming, frenetic, and subversive, Halfway is a brutally honest portrait of the world of down-and-out recovering alcoholics, and a story of how, in their darkest hour, these men create the bonds that form a family. 

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