Archive for literature

Wayétu Moore, “SHE WOULD BE KING” w/ Allison Noelle Conner

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on November 23rd, 2018

In She Would Be King, Wayétu Moore reimagines the dramatic story of the formation of Liberia through the eyes of three unforgettable characters. Gbessa, exiled on suspicion of being a witch from the West African village of Lai, is bitten by a viper and left for dead, but miraculously survives. June Dey, raised on a plantation in Virginia, hides his unusual strength until a confrontation with the overseer forces him to flee. Norman Aragon is the child of a white British colonizer and a Maroon slave from Jamaica, and can fade from sight at will, just as his mother could. When they meet in the settlement of Monrovia, their gifts help them salvage the tense relationship between the African American settlers and the indigenous tribes. Their storylines are brilliantly intertwined by the all-seeing spirit of the wind, who embodies an ancient wisdom.

A spectacular blend of history and magical realism, She Would Be King is a novel of profound depth set against a rich, unexpected canvas. Moore illuminates with radiant prose the tumultuous roots of a unique African country—one whose history is inextricably bound to the United States.

Moore is in conversation with Allison Noelle Conner, whose writing has appeared in BitchJacket2The Rumpus, and elsewhere.

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Tracy Daugherty, “LEAVING THE GAY PLACE”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on November 6th, 2018

Leaving the Gay Place tells a sweeping story of American popular culture and politics through the life and work of a writer who tragically exemplifies the highs and lows of the country at mid-century. Tracy Daugherty follows Brammer from the halls of power in Washington, DC, where he worked for Senate majority leader Johnson, to rock-and-roll venues where he tripped out with Janis Joplin, and ultimately to back alleys of self-indulgence and self-destruction. Constantly driven to experiment with new ways of being and creating—often fueled by psychedelics—Brammer became a cult figure for an America on the cusp of monumental change, as the counterculture percolated through the Eisenhower years and burst out in the sixties. In Daugherty’s masterful recounting, Brammer’s story is a quintessential American story, and Billy Lee is our wayward American son.

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Micah Perks, “TRUE LOVE AND OTHER DREAMS OF MIRACULOUS ESCAPE” w/ Ben Loory

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction, Short Stories by skylightbooks on November 5th, 2018

Magical and funny, profound and seductive, the linked stories in True Love and Other Dreams of Miraculous Escape explore the life-bending power of love. In these interwoven lives, ardent desire meets a keen sense of reality deep in the heart of progressive California. When Sadie opens a funky bookstore in Santa Cruz, she is swept off her feet by Daniel, a true-blue romantic—athletic, bookish, from Santiago, Chile. Their connection is heady and erotic, and it echoes through the love lives around them: from Harry Houdini’s first encounter with the widow Winchester to the threatening intimacy between a wife and her brother to a grumpy teenager who inspires her divorced parents. Years later, when Sadie and Daniel take an overdue trip to Paris, their blended family doesn't blend so well, sending them back to rediscover their roots. In these interconnected lives, the desire for passion is as strong as the desire to escape, and the terror of claustrophobic connection competes with the deepest human yearning. An intoxicating look at the complexity and simplicity of embracing and running from love. By the award-winning author of What Becomes UsMicah Perks.

Perks is in conversation with Ben Loory, author of the collections Tales of Falling and Flying and Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day.

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Nick Zinner/Zachary Lipez/Stacy Wakefield, “131 DIFFERENT THINGS”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction, photography by skylightbooks on November 1st, 2018

When Sam, a bartender in New York, hears that his ex, Vicki, his one true love, has quit AA and is out drinking again, he embarks on a quest to find her. Sam and his sidekick Francis trek from dive bars to gay bars to rocker bars—encountering skinheads, party promoters, underage drug dealers, and dominatrixes—but they are always one step behind Vicki. It begins to seem like 131 Different Things are keeping the lovers apart. Before the night is over, Sam will have to wrestle with what he is really looking for.

Nick Zinner—who plays guitar in the three-time Grammy-nominated band Yeah Yeah Yeahs—provides the visual framework for this inventive novella with his intimate photography. Known for his essays and music writing for Noisey, Vice, and Penthouse, Zachary Lipez brings his pithy, multilayered, and self-deprecating voice to this debut work of fiction. The prose and photography are tied together in a playful taxonomic scheme by editor and art director Stacy Wakefield, the author of the novel The Sunshine Crust Baking Factory. The three artists have collaborated on four previous books, most recently Please Take Me Off the Guest List.

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Nadya Tolokonnikova, “READ & RIOT” w/ Shepard Fairey

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, Memoir, Feminism, Punk Music, nonfiction, music, activism, politics, LGBTQ by skylightbooks on October 30th, 2018

Feminist artist, political activist, and Pussy Riot founder Nadya Tolokonnikova has written a timely guide to radical protest and provides the words, actions, and inspiration to ignite the power of individuals to passionately resist and proactively plan our way to the change we want to see. In Read & Riot: A Pussy Riot Guide to Activism, the revered international activist draws upon her own hard-won wisdom to share her core principles for opposing leaders and governments that threaten to suppress individual rights and freedoms. Cutting through the pessimism, fear, uncertainty, and hopelessness, Read & Riot is an empowering tool for civil disobedience that encourages us to question the status quo, reject the litany of injustices and refuse to let apathy take hold, and above all, to make political action exciting, to be approached with a sense of humor, and an ultimately make it an integral part of our daily lives.  Fusing punk and positivity to create a culture of protest that inspires and connects us, Read & Riot includes actions, suggestions, and resources for creating an empowered movement of resistance.

Tolokonnikova is in conversation with fellow artist-activist Shepard Fairey.

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WHAT BOOKS presents Paul Lieber and Bill Mohr

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, poetry by skylightbooks on October 29th, 2018

Join us for an evening with two authors from What Books Press. Paul Lieber discusses poetry with fellow writer Bill Mohr. 

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Eileen Truax, “WE BUILT THE WALL”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, nonfiction, history by skylightbooks on October 25th, 2018

A Mexican-American lawyer exposes corruption in the US asylum procedure and despotism in the Mexican government.

From a storefront law office in the US border city of El Paso, Texas, one man set out to tear down the great wall of indifference raised between the US and Mexico. Carlos Spector has filed hundreds of political asylum cases on behalf of human rights defenders, journalists, and political dissidents. Though his legal activism has only inched the process forward--98 percent of refugees from Mexico are still denied asylum--his myriad legal cases and the resultant media fallout has increasingly put US immigration policy, the corrupt state of Mexico, and the political basis of immigration, asylum, and deportation decisions on the spot.

Eileen Truax's We Built the Wall is an immersive, engrossing look at the new front in the immigration wars. It follows the gripping stories of people like Saúl Reyes, forced to flee his home after a drug cartel murdered several members of his family, and Delmy Calderón, a forty-two-year-old woman leading an eight-woman hunger strike in an El Paso detention center. Truax tracks the heart-wrenching trials of refugees like Yamil, the husband and father who chose a prison cell over deportation to Mexico, and Rocío Hernández, a nineteen-year-old who spent nearly her entire life in Texas and is now forced to live in a city where narcotraffickers operate with absolute impunity.

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Reyna Grande, “A DREAM CALLED HOME” w/ Kirin Khan

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, Memoir, nonfiction by skylightbooks on October 24th, 2018

When Reyna Grande was nine-years-old, she walked across the US–Mexico border in search of a home, desperate to be reunited with the parents who had left her behind years before for a better life in the City of Angels. What she found instead was an indifferent mother, an abusive, alcoholic father, and a school system that belittled her heritage. With so few resources at her disposal, Reyna finds refuge in words, and it is her love of reading and writing that propels her to rise above until she achieves the impossible and is accepted to the University of California, Santa Cruz. Although her acceptance is a triumph, the actual experience of American college life is intimidating and unfamiliar for someone like Reyna, who is now once again estranged from her family and support system. Again, she finds solace in words, holding fast to her vision of becoming a writer, only to discover she knows nothing about what it takes to make a career out of a dream.

Through it all, Reyna is determined to make the impossible possible, going from undocumented immigrant of little means to “a fierce, smart, shimmering light of a writer” (Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild); a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist “speak[ing] for millions of immigrants whose voices have gone unheard” (Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street); and a proud mother of two beautiful children who will never have to know the pain of poverty and neglect. Told in Reyna’s exquisite, heartfelt prose, A Dream Called Home demonstrates how, by daring to pursue her dreams, Reyna was able to build the one thing she had always longed for: a home that would endure.

Grande is in conversation with fellow writer Kirin Khan.

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Kwame Alexander, “SWING” w/ Nikki Giovanni & Wendy Calhoun

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on October 23rd, 2018

When America is not so beautiful, or right, or just, it can be hard to know what to do. In Kwame Alexander's Swing, best friends Walt and Noah decide to use their voices to grow more good in the world, but first they've got to find cool.

Walt is convinced junior year is their year, and he has a plan to help them woo the girls of their dreams and become amazing athletes. Never mind that he and Noah failed to make the high school baseball team yet again, and Noah's love interest since third grade, Sam, has him firmly in the friend zone. Noah soon finds himself navigating the worlds of jazz, batting cages, the strange advice of Walt's Dairy Queen-employed cousin, as well as Walt's own perceptions of what is actually cool. Status quo seems inevitable until Noah stumbles on a stash of old love letters. Each page contains the words he's always wanted to say to Sam, and he begins secretly creating artwork using the lines that speak his heart. But when his private artwork becomes public, Noah has a decision to make: continue his life in the dugout and possibly lose the girl forever, or take a swing and make his voice heard?

At the same time, numerous American flags are being left around town. While some think it's a harmless prank and others see it as a form of peaceful protest, Noah can't shake the feeling something bigger is happening to his community. Especially after he witnesses events that hint divides and prejudices run deeper than he realized. As the personal and social tensions increase around them, Noah and Walt must decide what is really true when it comes to love, friendship, sacrifice, and fate.

Alexander is in conversation with poet, activist, mother, and professor Nikki Giovanni alongside writer/producer Wendy Calhoun.

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Walter Mosley, “JOHN WOMAN”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction, mystery by skylightbooks on October 22nd, 2018

 John Woman recounts the transformation of an unassuming boy named Cornelius Jones into John Woman, an unconventional history professor—while the legacy of a hideous crime lurks in the shadows.

At twelve years old, Cornelius, the son of an Italian-American woman and an older black man from Mississippi named Herman, secretly takes over his father’s job at a silent film theater in New York’s East Village. Five years later, as Herman lives out his last days, he shares his wisdom with his son, explaining that the person who controls the narrative of history controls their own fate. After his father dies and his mother disappears, Cornelius sets about reinventing himself—as Professor John Woman, a man who will spread Herman’s teachings into the classrooms of his unorthodox southwestern university and beyond. But there are other individuals who are attempting to influence the narrative of John Woman, and who might know something about the facts of his hidden past.

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Lydia Kiesling, “THE GOLDEN STATE” w/ Edan Lepucki

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on October 21st, 2018

In Lydia Kiesling's razor-sharp debut novel, The Golden State, we accompany Daphne, a young mother on the edge of a breakdown, as she flees her sensible but strained life in San Francisco for the high desert of Altavista with her toddler, Honey. Bucking under the weight of being a single parent--her Turkish husband is unable to return to the United States because of a "processing error"--Daphne takes refuge in a mobile home left to her by her grandparents in hopes that the quiet will bring clarity.

But clarity proves elusive. Over the next ten days Daphne is anxious, she behaves a little erratically, she drinks too much. She wanders the town looking for anyone and anything to punctuate the long hours alone with the baby. Among others, she meets Cindy, a neighbor who is active in a secessionist movement, and befriends the elderly Alice, who has traveled to Altavista as she approaches the end of her life. When her relationships with these women culminate in a dangerous standoff, Daphne must reconcile her inner narrative with the reality of a deeply divided world.

Kiesling is in conversation with Edan Lepucki, the bestselling author of novels California and Woman No. 17.

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Peter Gadol, “THE STRANGER GAME”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on October 19th, 2018

The word ‘follow’ seems to have lost its meaning in the digital age. Now, when someone is following you on Instagram or Twitter, it’s hardly cause for alarm. But Peter Gadol begs an eerie question in his sixth novel, The Stranger Game: What if those ‘following’ you on social media brought back the literal meaning of the word… What if they started following you in real life?

In the age of social media, humanity is, at large, lonely. This includes Rebecca and her boyfriend, Ezra, a fan of the viral sensation “the stranger game"; The games, in which players literally follow strangers in their day-to-day lives has swept the nation and disappearances – including Ezra’s – are reported as players drift aimlessly from subject to subject. Hoping to find him, Rebecca tried the game and meets Carey. As their relationship and game play deepen, Rebecca uncovers an unsettling subculture that has infiltrated her world. Playing the stranger game may lead her closer to Ezra, but also further from the life she once lived.

Riddled with Patricia Highsmith-like anxiety and the alienation of Paul Auster, The Stranger Game is a haunting tale of literary suspense about a viral game spinning perilously – and criminally – out of control.

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WNBA/LA: National Reading Group Month

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, Memoir, Film, film/tv, journalism by skylightbooks on October 18th, 2018

WNBA/LA celebrates National Reading Group Month with a special Women in Media panel, featuring Gretchen Bonaduce (Surviving Agent Orange), Laura Dave (Hello Sunshin), and Robinne Lee (The Idea of You), with moderator Ezina Le Blanc.

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Anne-Marie Kinney, “COLDWATER CANYON” w/ Anthony Miller

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

Shep has been dealt a bad hand in life. Halfheartedly raised by a cold grandmother and chronically ill following his deployment in Desert Storm, he self-medicates with alcohol and daydreams of salvation at the hands of women—ultimately landing on one woman in particular: Lila, the young actress he believes is his daughter despite all evidence to the contrary. As Shep navigates the mystically rendered streets and strip malls of the San Fernando Valley with his only companion, his dog Lionel, he takes increasingly desperate measures to insinuate himself into her life. Anne-Marie Kinney’s precise and considered prose examines the insistence on reshaping the past through the lens of one’s own trauma and conceived desires as a means of moving forward. Why do we so often look for solace and redemption through others, pushing ourselves to do anything for them, even when it harms everyone involved?

Kinney is in conversation with writer, critic, and independent scholar Anthony Miller.

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LAMBDA Litfest: “Queer Writing”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction, Short Stories, politics, LGBTQ by skylightbooks on October 15th, 2018

Young queer writers yearn for queer teachers for a variety of reasons: to be seen and acknowledged, to find role models, to work in spaces that include their voices. On this panel, queer writing teachers from UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program will read excerpts from their recent work, and then discuss how queerness factors into their teaching of both straight and queer students.

The teachers included in the panel: Noel AlumitAntonia CraneSeth FischerCharles Jensen, and Mathew Rodriguez.

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