Archive for books

VANESSA DAVIS LAUNCHES HER NEW GRAPHIC MEMOIR SPANIEL RAGE

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on May 14th, 2017

Spaniel Rage (Drawn & Quarterly)

Join Los Angeles-based cartoonist Vanessa Davis as she presents her latest release Spaniel Rage: a collection of frank, intimate pencil drawings created over the course of one year to chronicle her life as a single woman in New York. Filled with self-deprecating anecdotes about her anxieties, intimate moments between friends and lovers, and mingling general observations and wry truths about life in the Big City, Spaniel Rage is a witty tour de force that grabs you by the heartstrings.

Vanessa Davis's autobiographical comics delighted readers ten years ago when she first began telling stories about her life in New York as a young single Jewish woman. More observational than confessional, Spaniel Rage is filled with frank and immediate pencil drawn accounts of dating woes, misunderstandings between her and her mother, and conversations with friends. Her keen observation of careless words spoken casually is refreshingly honest, yet never condemning. Unabashedly, Davis offers up gently self-deprecating anecdotes about her anxieties and wry truths about the contradictions of life in the big city. These comics are sexy, funny, lonely, beautiful, spare, and very smart—the finest work from a natural storyteller.

Praise for Spaniel Rage

"These comics are a gift. Casual, but precise, Davis has an emotional and intellectual range that creeps up on you with a warmth and a sensibility to the page that feels revelatory. Spaniel Rage is a brave, deeply felt work." Sammy Harkham, Kramers Ergot

"Loose, perfect cartooning. Vanessa Davis is one of the very best." Michael DeForge, Big Kids, Ant Colony, and Lose

"Vanessa's comics feel like a phone call with your best, warm, funny friend. I've kept this book close at hand for the last decade, re-reading it over lunches, in baths, and curled up in bed at night." Lisa Hanawalt, Bojack Horseman, Hot Dog Taste Test

"I spent my 20s reading and re-reading this book. I'm still looking for clues in its warm, perfect drawings and clear, quiet voice a grateful ghost in the white spaces, standing by Vanessa's side." Eleanor Davis, How To Be Happy

Vanessa Davis was born in Florida and currently lives in Los Angeles. She’s a cartoonist and illustrator who has contributed to Vice, the New York Times, Lucky Peach, and Tablet.

 
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JOANNA HOFFMAN READS FROM HER POETRY COLLECTION RUNNING FOR TRAP DOORS

Posted in , literature, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on May 14th, 2017

Running for Trap Doors (Sibling Rivalry Press)

In her debut full-length poetry collection, Joanna Hoffman navigates family dynamics, lesbian bars, religion, emoticons, and inner demons. Along the way, she begins to see her world and the characters in it in a new light and gradually learns how to get out of her own way.

Praise for Running for Trap Doors 

"What I love most about Joanna Hoffman’s poems in Running For Trap Doors is how they uplift without trying to; the candor embroidered in every story swells the reader with an aliveness, even in moments of undeniable loss. They are quiet anthems. Hoffman’s writing denounces pretension and settles into the violent swirl and joy of life’s incessant mosh pit."-- Rachel McKibbens, New York Foundation of the Arts Poetry Fellow and author of Pink Elephant

"Joanna Hoffman lingers in melancholia, but with instincts erring toward that peculiar strength of character possessed only by those whose frailty has truly taken a stomping. Hoffman’s ills are not imaginary, nor are her efforts to redress them. We should all be so bold, so concerned. And then there is this other thing, which is that never in my life have I read such concisely perfect portrayals of the religions hiding in a woman’s neck as I have in these fine poems. More than a debut, Running for Trap Doors is a statement of purpose."-- Megan Volpert, author of Sonics in Warholia

"While reading Joanna Hoffman’s book, I considered death, remembered high school, ached, marveled that one poem could say as much as a novel, laughed out loud alone, texted someone to say how good it was, and then hugged myself. It is precise, imagistic and purposeful, a fully realized narrative. In this book, there is a clean song jackknifing the fat from bone."-- Karen Finneyfrock, author of The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door

Joanna Hoffman is a poet and teaching artist living in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming on Upworthy, Buzzfeed, Winter TangerinedecomPPANKThe OffingUnion Station MagazineThe LegendarySinister Wisdom and in the Write Bloody Publishing anthologies We Will be Shelter and Multiverse. Her full-length book of poetry, Running for Trap Doors (Sibling Rivalry Press), was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award and included in the American Library Association’s List of Recommended LGBT reading for 2014. She was honored by the White House as a 2015 Champion of Change for LGBTQ advocacy through art. 

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DANIELLE KRYSA DISCUSSES HER BOOK YOUR INNER CRITIC IS A BIG JERK, WITH MARTHA RICH

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on May 14th, 2017

Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk: And Other Truths About Being Creative (Chronicle Books)

This book is duct tape for the mouth of every artist's inner critic. Silencing that stifling voice once and for all, this salve for creatives introduces ten truths they must face in order to defeat self-doubt. Each encouraging chapter deconstructs a pivotal moment on the path to success fear of the blank page, the dangers of jealousy, sharing work with others and explains how to navigate roadblock. Packed with helpful anecdotes, thoughts from successful creatives, and practical exercises gleaned from Danielle Krysa's years of working with professional and aspiring artists plus riotously apt illustrations from art world darling Martha Rich this book arms readers with the most essential tool for their toolbox: the confidence they need to get down to business and make good work.

Danielle Krysa has a BFA in Fine Arts, and a post-grad in graphic design. She is the writer/curator behind the contemporary art site, The Jealous Curator. In 2014 she published two books, both with Chronicle Books, titled Creative Block and Collage. Her third book, Your Inner Critic Is A Big Jerk was released in October 2016. Danielle has also had the great pleasure of speaking at TEDx  PIXAR, Creative Mornings, CreativeLive, Altitude Summit, and was interviewed for several video segments on Oprah.com.

Martha Rich is a Philadelphia-based artist working in both the commercial and fine art fields. Drawing, painting, using words, while being absurd and funny, and having a penchant for painting food is what she does.

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STEVE ERICKSON READS FROM HIS NEW NOVEL SHADOWBAHN

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on May 14th, 2017

Shadowbahn (Blue Rider Press)

In Granta Jonathan Lethem called Steve Erickson’s forthcoming novel Shadowbahn "Jaw-dropping … Erickson weaves a playlist for the dying American century with his usual lucid-dreaming prose. I've read every novel he's ever written and I'll still never know how he does it: A tour-de-forcer's tour de force." A prescient book about a divided USA, Shadowbahn is a winding and reckless ride through intersections of danger, destiny, and the conjoined halves of a ruptured nation.

The sleep of reason produces monsters, said Goya—including monsters of architecture and history that meet, most uneasily, in the pages of Erickson's latest. It's a startling scenario, a kind of deus ex machina at the beginning instead of the end of a story: What would happen if, two decades after their collapse, the twin towers of the World Trade Center were to loom up in the South Dakota Badlands? Well, it being America, they turn into a tourist attraction made all the more alluring by the fact that there's a presence up on the top floors of the southern building—a presence that just happens to be the revenant brother of another American icon. It would be a spoiler to get too much into specifics of that fellow's identity and why on earth he happens to be inhabiting a building he never lived to see, but suffice it to say that with this book, perhaps his oddest yet, Erickson stakes a claim to be one of the most centrifugal writers at work today. Even then, he works his magic mostly by conjuring sci-fi-ish plotlines and then having characters move across them in more or less realistic ways: youngsters on their way to visit family on the coast are pulled down a dusty rabbit hole into a place that requires conversations on Adlai Stevenson, Elvis, the old folk song "Shenandoah," Dealey Plaza, Churchill, Wounded Knee, RFK ("Was his big brother being metaphorical now? Ironic? Literary?"), and the whole swirl, for better and worse, of American history. Whatever is normal is upended, but it's all oddly believable. Throughout, Erickson, a master of the mot juste, writes with archly elegant lyricism: "He heads toward a west that is the dreamer's true north, where the desert comes looking for us and curls at the door, a wild animal made of our ashes…." Think Philip K. Dick on smoother acid and with a more up-to-date soundtrack, and you've got something of this eminently strange, thoroughly excellent book.

Praise for Shadowbahn

“A great, great, great, great novel. I could say more -- about its big-world heartedness and old-world shadowness, about twins and towers, brothers and sisters, road trips and all the borders we design and transgress, and of course Erickson’s beautiful heart-bit music -- but it would still add up to the same thing: great.  Sung, of course.”–Mark Z. Danielewski, author of The Familiar

“Steve Erickson is one of America’s greatest living novelists.  He is always inventive, always engaging, always surprising. In Shadowbahn, Erickson combines the social novel, the science fiction novel, the pop music essay, the comedic set piece, and the family novel into a wild, idiosyncratic tour de force.”–Dana Spiotta

“Not sure whether Steve Erickson's off-kilter whoppers have gotten more plausible or the country gets more and more unhinged.  He and his book's bewitching nouns, from the Badlands to "La Bamba," are good company either way.”–Sarah Vowell

Shadowbahn maps out an American counter-history where events that have touched all Americans, and people from all over the world, are given new shape and speak in new voices.  As both a revisioning of a national story and a family drama, the book has a simultaneous weight and lightness, an older person’s high seriousness and the ability of younger people to see right through it.”--Greil Marcus

Steve Erickson is the author of nine other novels, including Zeroville, which James Franco has adapted for film, Our Ecstatic Days, and These Dreams of You and two nonfiction books that have been published in ten languages. His work has appeared in numerous periodicals, such as EsquireRolling StoneSmithsonianAmerican Prospect, and Los Angeles, for which he writes regularly about film, music, and television. Erickson is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, and the Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award. Currently he teaches at the University of California, Riverside.

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MARK SUNDEEN DISCUSSES HIS BOOK THE UNSETTLERS

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on May 14th, 2017

The Unsettlers: In Search of the Good Life in Today's America (Riverhead Books)

Today's Americans are looking to escape: faced with drastic increases in climate change, the rise of the One Percent, and a suffocating 24/7 work culture that seems to be keeping an entire population chained to their smart phones, it comes as no surprise that we are now, more than ever, yearning for "the simple life." Organic eating continues to gain popularity and minimalistic Tiny Houses seem to be popping up every direction--but why? And is it actually possible not only to walk away from the modern conveniences on which we've become so paralyzingly dependent but to adopt--even model--a truly sustainable ethical and authentic way of life? 

In The Unsettlers: In Search of the Good Life in Today's America, Mark Sundeen follows a diverse group of Americans--urban and rural, female and male, black and white--on their complicated quest for a simpler life in modern times, raising fascinating and subversive questions about the way we live, eat, and work. We asked Sundeen what led him to write The Unsettlers, and he replied, "So many people have anxiety about the state of the world--climate change, extinction, financial inequality--but so few have an idea of what they can actually do to extract themselves for the system, much less change it. This book illuminates those who are trying with all their might." 

There is no better writer to tell this story than Sundeen, whose writings on off-the-grid movements have appeared in the New York Times, Outside Magazine, The Believer, National Geographic Adventure, and McSweeny's. His previous book, The Man who Quit Money, was a sleeper hit, earning rave reviews from readers and critics--the Seattle Times deemed it "captivating," and Outside hailed it as a "critique that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt remorse on the treadmill of getting and spending"--cementing Sundeen's reputation as one of the preeminent translators of alternative communities and movements to the mainstream. 

With the lively writing-style of Barbara Kingslover and on-the-ground savvy of Michael Pollan, Mark Sundeen simultaneously explores and contextualizes the fascinatingly complex history of simple living throughout American history--from the Founding Fathers to the present movement in which, among the other subjects he profiles, Detroit natives Olivia Hubert and Greg Willerer set out to revitalize their city by farming it. 

Praise for The Unsettlers

"Rigorously reported and utterly enthralling. With Candor, wit, and live-voltage curiosity, Sundeen profiles pioneers who have developed better ways to live in our overdeveloped world."--Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams

"With his chronicles of modern-day American visionaries and iconoclasts who have opted out of the mainstream culture, I've come to think of Mark Sundeen as our poet laureate of a new era of alternative lifestyles."--Bob Shacochis, author of The Woman Who Lost Her Soul

Mark Sundeen is the author of several books, including The Man Who Quit Money and the coauthor of North by Northwestern, which was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. He has taught fiction and nonfiction in the MFA creative writing programs at the University of New Mexico and Southern New Hampshire University. He and his wife divide their time between Fort Collins, Colorado, and Moab, Utah.

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UC RIVERSIDE MFA STUDENTS AND PROFESSORS READ FROM THEIR WORK

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on April 10th, 2017

Join us as professors and students from UC Riverside’s Creative Writing & Writing for the Performing Arts MFA read from their work. Readers include: Tom Lutz, Charmaine Craig, Katie Ford, Robin Russin, Bernardita Garcia, Ashanti Anderson, Alicia Mosely, Lorelei Baughman, and Emily Margaret Wells.

Tom Lutz is the author, most recently, of And the Monkey Learned Nothing: Dispatches from a Life of Travel and Drinking Mare's Milk on the Roof of the World: Wandering the Globe from Azerbaijan to Zanzibar. He is the founding editor of Los Angeles Review of Books.

Robin Uriel Russin is a professor of screenwriting and playwriting in the Department of Theatre, Film & Digital Production at the University of California, Riverside. He has written, produced and directed for film, TV and the theater, including the box office hit On Deadly Ground; America’s Most Wanted; and Vital Signs on ABC, where he was Senior Producer. Robin is co-author of the books Screenplay: Writing the Picture, now in its second edition, and Naked Playwriting. His stories, articles and reviews have been appeared in Script Magazine, Verdad Magazine, Connotation Press, Harvard Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, The American Oxonian, Shofar, and elsewhere. A Rhodes Scholar, Robin has degrees from Harvard, Oxford, Rhode Island School of Design, and UCLA. His play, The Face in the Reeds, recently premiered in an extended run at the Ruskin Group Theatre, where he initiated and leads a workshop for emerging and established local playwrights. His original one-hour pilot script about King David, Beloved, was adapted by ABC TV as Of Kings and Prophets. Robin is currently directing the indie feature, When I Sing.

Katie Ford is the author of DepositionColosseum, and Blood Lyrics, which was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize and the Rilke Prize. Colosseum was named among the “Best Books of 2008” by Publishers Weekly and the Virginia Quarterly Review and led to a Lannan Literary Fellowship and the Larry Levis Prize. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry MagazineThe Paris ReviewThe American Poetry Review and The Norton Introduction for Literature, and she is currently serving as a judge for the 2016 National Book Awards. Her fourth book is forthcoming from Graywolf Press is 2018. She is a Professor of Creative Writing and Director of the MFA Program.

Charmaine Craig is a faculty member in the Department of Creative Writing at UC Riverside, and the descendant of significant figures in Burma’s modern history. A former actor in film and television, she studied literature at Harvard University and received her MFA from the University of California, Irvine. Her first novel, The Good Men (Riverhead), was a national bestseller translated into six languages.

Bernardita García is a twenty-nine year-old Chilean journalist who is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at UC Riverside. For the last two years, she has worked as a ghostwriter. In 2016, her children’s book “La Ballena Jorobada” (The Humpback Whale) was given an award by the Municipality of Santiago, Chile. She's a paws-and-tails lover and was the coordinator of Chile’s largest animal rights campaign: #NoSonMuebles. Her writing is influenced by Latin American social changes, women’s struggle and her generation’s quest for its own identity.  

Lorelei Baughman has spent her life in California, with interludes in France and the San Juan Islands. She’s been in sales, driven a taxi, and owns a business. Now that she’s writing, she looks back most fondly on driving the taxi. She writes short stories, and graduated from UC Riverside in 2015 with a BA in Creative Writing. She loves teaching almost as much as she loves writing, and has conducted a Creative Writing class at the Chino Women’s Correctional Facility. She has been published in Bravura and Mosaic. Her stories are about ordinary people in Las Vegas and Nebraska, but she secretly wants to write about angels and genii wielding scimitars up in the ozone, inflicting their whims on the grocery clerks and civil engineers below.  She lives in Temecula, California with her husband and dogs.

Ashanti Anderson earned her B.S. in Psychology from Xavier University of Louisiana. Before officially deciding to pursue her goals as a writer, she was a research assistant in a lab that studied the effects of music on the cognition of individuals with dementia. She has published poetry, creative non-fiction, essays, and research articles through various print and electronic publications. Her interests include psychology, theology, cooking, and nature, and she usually (sometimes unintentionally) incorporates at least two of those into every piece that she writes.

Alicia Mosley was born in Santa Cruz, California and spent most of her life with one foot in Northern California and the other in Southern. In her writing, she is interested in exploring the ways people straddle the intersections of place, culture, and time. Alicia currently lives in Riverside with her four children and is working on her first novel.

Emily Margaret Wells writes true stories (journalism) and obliquely true stories (fiction). She is working on a novel about art, family and religion, which she plans to complete during the MFA at UC Riverside. Formerly a newspaper reporter, fashion model and ballet dancer, she lives and works with a nameless cat.

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JOEL WHITNEY DISCUSSES HIS NEW BOOK FINKS WITH NICK SCHOU

Posted in , literature, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on April 9th, 2017

Finks: How the C.I.A. Tricked the World's Best Writers (Or Books)

 

When news broke that the CIA had colluded with literary magazines to produce cultural propaganda throughout the Cold War, a debate began that has never been resolved. The story continues to unfold, with the reputations of some of America’s best-loved literary figures—including Peter Matthiessen, George Plimpton, and Richard Wright—tarnished as their work for the intelligence agency has come to light. 

Finks is a tale of two CIAs, and how they blurred the line between propaganda and literature. One CIA created literary magazines that promoted American and European writers and cultural freedom, while the other toppled governments, using assassination and censorship as political tools. Defenders of the cultural CIA argue that it should have been lauded for boosting interest in the arts and freedom of thought, but the two CIAs had the same undercover goals, and shared many of the same methods: deception, subterfuge and intimidation. 

Finks demonstrates how the good-versus-bad CIA is a false divide, and that the cultural Cold Warriors again and again used anti-Communism as a lever to spy relentlessly on leftists, and indeed writers of all political inclinations, and thereby pushed U.S. democracy a little closer to the Soviet model of the surveillance state.

Praise for Finks 

"Listen to this book, because it talks in a very clear way about what has been silenced."--John Berger, author of Ways of Seeing and winner of the Man Booker Prize 

"It may be difficult today to believe that the American intellectual elite was once deeply embedded with the CIA. But withFinks, Joel Whitney vividly brings to life the early days of the Cold War, when the CIA's Ivy League ties were strong, and key American literary figures were willing to secretly do the bidding of the nation's spymasters."--James Risen, author of Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War 

"A deep look at that scoundrel time when America's most sophisticated and enlightened literati eagerly collaborated with our growing national security state. Finks is a timely moral reckoningone that compels all those who work in the academic, media and literary boiler rooms to ask some troubling questions of themselvesnamely, what, if anything, have they done to resist the subversion of free thought?"--David Talbot, founder of Salon and author of The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA and the Rise of America's Secret Government 

"The marriage of politics and literature is always messy and seldom boring. Intrusive governments are invariably unimaginative and plotting writers are hilariously ineffective. The whole thing makes for tortured drama, and Joel Whitney is a savvy dramatist who knows perfectly how to juice intrigue!"--Ilan Stavans, author of Gabriel Garcia Marquez: The Early Years 

"The CIA's covert financial support of highbrow art and fiction may seem like a quaint, even endearing, chapter in its otherwise grim history of coups, assassinations, and torture. In Finks, Joel Whitney argues otherwise and shines a discomfiting spotlight on this obscure corner of the cultural Cold War. The result is both an illuminating read and a cautionary tale about the potential costspolitical and artisticof accommodating power."--Ben Wizner, ACLU Director of Speech, Privacy and Technology Project 

Joel Whitney is a cofounder and editor at large of Guernica: A Magazine of Art & Politics. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, Boston Review, The San Francisco Chronicle, Dissent, Salon, NPR, New York Magazine and The Sun.

Award-winning investigative journalist Nick Schou is managing editor of OC Weekly. He is the author of Kill the Messenger: How the CIA’s Crack Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb (Nation Books 2006), which provided the basis for the 2014 Focus Features release starring Jeremy Renner and the L.A. Times-bestseller Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love’s Quest to bring Peace, Love and Acid to the World, (Thomas Dunne 2009). He is also the author of The Weed Runners (2013) and Spooked: How the CIA Manipulates the Media and Hoodwinks Hollywood (2016).

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VIET THANH NGUYEN READS FROM HIS NEW COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES THE REFUGEES

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on April 9th, 2017

The Refugees (Grove Press)

Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer was one of the most widely and highly praised novels of 2015, the winner not only of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction but also the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and the California Book Award for First Fiction. Nguyen’s next fiction book, The Refugees, is a collection of perfectly formed stories written over a period of twenty years, exploring questions of immigration, identity, love, and family. 

With the coruscating gaze of The Sympathizer, in The Refugees Viet Thanh Nguyen gives voice to lives led between two worlds, the adopted homeland and the country of birth. From a young Vietnamese refugee who suffers profound culture shock when he comes to live with two gay men in San Francisco, to a woman whose husband is suffering from dementia and starts to confuse her for a former lover, to a girl living in Ho Chi Minh City whose older half sister comes back from America having seemingly accomplished everything she never will, the stories are a captivating testament to the dreams and hardships of immigration. 

The second piece of fiction by a major new voice in American letters, The Refugees is a beautifully written and sharply observed book about the aspirations of those who leave one country for another, and the relationships and desires for self-fulfillment that define our lives.

Praise for The Refugees

“Precise without being clinical, archly humorous without being condescending, and full of understanding; many of the stories might have been written by a modern Flaubert, if that master had spent time in San Jose or Ho Chi Minh City . . . [Nguyen’s] stories, excellent from start to finish, transcend ethnic boundaries to speak to human universals.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Each searing tale in Nguyen’s follow-up to the Pulitzer-winning The Sympathizer is a pressure cooker of unease, simmering with unresolved issues of memory and identity for the Vietnamese whose lives were disrupted by the “American War.” …Nguyen is not here to sympathize…but to challenge the experience of white America as the invisible norm. .” –Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Nguyen…presents a collection of fluidly modulated yet bracing stories about Vietnamese refugees in the U.S., powerful tales of rupture and loss that detonate successive shock waves. . . . Each intimate, supple, and heartrending story is unique in its particulars even as all are works of piercing clarity, poignant emotional nuance, and searing insights into the trauma of war and the long chill of exile, the assault on identity and the resilience of the self, and the fragility and preciousness of memories.”–Booklist (starred review)

“For Nguyen groupies desperate for future titles (including a Sympathizer sequel), [The] Refugees is a highly gratifying interlude. For short fiction fans of other extraordinary, between-culture collections such as Daniyal Mueenuddin’s In Other Rooms, Other Wonders and Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth, Nguyen won’t disappoint.” –Library Journal (starred review)

“A delight . . . The short story is a beautiful affirmation of the supreme importance of art in our daily lives. And Viet Thanh Nguyen drives that point home brilliantly.”—Mekong Review

Viet Thanh Nguyen was born in Vietnam and raised in America. His novel The Sympathizer won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as five other awards. He is also the author of the nonfiction books Nothing Ever Dies and Race and Resistance. The Aerol Arnold Professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California, he lives in Los Angeles.

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LIZBET SIMMONS DISCUSSES HER BOOK THE PRISON SCHOOL

Posted in , literature, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on April 9th, 2017

The Prison School (UC Press)

Public schools across the nation have turned to the criminal justice system as a gold standard of discipline. As public schools and offices of justice have become collaborators in punishment, rates of African American suspension and expulsion have soared, dropout rates have accelerated, and prison populations have exploded. Nowhere, perhaps, has the War on Crime been more influential in broadening racialized academic and socioeconomic disparity than in New Orleans, Louisiana, where in 2002 the criminal sheriff opened his own public school at the Orleans Parish Prison. “The Prison School,” as locals called it, enrolled low-income African American boys who had been removed from regular public schools because of nonviolent disciplinary offenses, such as tardiness and insubordination. By examining this school in the local and national context, Lizbet Simmons shows how young black males are in the liminal state of losing educational affiliation while being caught in the net of correctional control. In The Prison School, she asks how schools and prisons became so intertwined. What does this mean for students, communities, and a democratic society? And how do we unravel the ties that bind the racialized realities of school failure and mass incarceration?

Praise for The Prison School 

"At a time of increasing public apprehension regarding the long reach of state violence into the lives of communities of color, Lizbet Simmons’ The Prison School offers us a revealing analysis of the interlocking trajectories of education and punishment.  A compelling example of the engaged scholarship we need during this period, her work is a passionate plea to root out the punitive impulse, born of racism, at the heart of public education."—Angela Y. Davis, Distinguished Professor Emerita, History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz

"The Prison School provides a rigorous, radical critique of the now taken-for-granted notion of a 'school-to-prison pipeline.'  Lizbet Simmons’s work is a pillar contribution to a widening stream of abolitionist scholarly work and research."—Dylan Rodríguez, author of Forced Passages: Imprisoned Radical Intellectuals and the U.S. Prison Regime

"Written with passion and clarity that is rare for an academic text, Simmons utilizes ethnographic detail to expose how the Prison School came into being and how it operated.  For those who recognize the dangers posed by mass incarceration and who hold onto the hope that education can provide an alternative pathway for our most vulnerable youth, this book will be a wake-up call and hopefully a call to action."—Pedro A. Noguera, Distinguished Professor of Education, University of California, Los Angeles

"What began as a chance encounter on the streets of New Orleans became a remarkable sociological investigation of how a public school, ostensibly serving kids struggling in their community schools, came to be housed in a prison. Simmons offers a compelling narrative of what happens when public schooling and mass incarceration become fused in logics and practices. The Prison School opens a window into historical and contemporary forces that produce racial subjugation, exclusion, and state failure with devastating consequences for young African American men coming of age in New Orleans."—Mona Lynch, author of Hard Bargains: The Coercive Power of Drug Laws in Federal Court and Sunbelt Justice: Arizona and the Transformation of American Punishment

Lizbet Simmons is a sociologist living in Los Angeles.

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SUSAN SHERMAN DISCUSSES HER NEW NOVEL IF YOU ARE THERE, WITH NATASHIA DEON

Posted in , literature, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on April 9th, 2017

If You Are There (Counterpoint Press)

Set in the early 1900s, If You Are There follows young Lucia Rutkowski who, thanks to the influence of her beloved grandmother, escapes the Warsaw ghetto to work as a kitchen maid in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the bustling city of Paris. Too talented for her lowly position, Lucia is thrown out on the street. Her only recourse is to take a job working for two disorganized, rather poor married scientists so distracted by their work that their house and young child are often neglected. Lucia soon bonds with her eccentric employers, watching as their work with radioactive materials grows increasing noticed by the world, then rising to fame as the great Marie and Pierre Curie. 

Soon, all of Paris is alit with the news of an impending visit from Eusapia Palladino, the world's most famous medium. It is through her now famous employers that Lucia attends Eusapia's gatherings and eventually falls under the medium's spell, leaving the Curie household to travel with her to Italy. Ultimately, Lucia is placed directly in the crosshairs of faith versus science--what is more real, the glowing substances of the Curie laboratory or the glowing visions that surround the medium during her seance? 

If You Are There is a thrilling, page-turning novel that draws upon real characters and events to detail its examination of a young woman torn between the beliefs she was born with and the scientific realities blooming all around her. 

Praise for If You Are There

“The fictional and historical mingle in Sherman's marvelous account of the lives of Marie and Pierre Curie. It is a rare book that is as scientific as it is magical and as magical as it is scientific. This is that book.” —Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award

"This splendid novel is about discovery, in its many forms: in science, in love, in ambition, in connection; it celebrates the intersection of the natural world and faith. Sherman explores all of her characters with precise, tender compassion and radiant insight; we move with them through beautifully described turn-of-the-century Europe, as they find their own understanding of love and loss and strength. You will love this unforgettable book." —Karen E. Bender, author of Refund, Finalist for the National Book Award  

Susan Sherman is the author of The Little Russian. She is the former Chair of the Art Department of Whittier College and the co-creator of one of the most successful television shows for children in the history of the Disney Network. Learn more at susanshermanauthor.com.

Natashia Deón is the recipient of a PEN Center US Emerging Voices Fellowship and has been awarded fellowships and residencies at Yale, Bread Loaf, Dickinson House in Belgium, and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Named one of 2013’s Most Fascinating People by LA Weekly, she has a MFA from UC Riverside and is the creator of the popular LA-based reading series, Dirty Laundry Lit. A practicing lawyer, she currently teaches law at Trinity Law School. Her debut novel, Grace, was published this past June by Counterpoint Press.

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RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL, JOCELYN BRINGAS, MELINA GREENPORT, AND JADE A. WATERS READ FROM THE NEW ANTHOLOGY BEST WOMEN’S EROTICA OF THE YEAR

Posted in , literature, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on April 9th, 2017

Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 2 (Cleis Press)

Join us for a night of readings from the Best Women's Erotica of  the Year series, featuring contributors from volumes 1 & 2. 

"America's favorite erotica writer takes the helm of the top-selling erotica series!" 

Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 2 gives us fierce female passion, timeless love, and lustful encounters that are guaranteed to fill you with utter delight. Editing by the award winning Rachel Kramer Bussel, these sexy stories about women on the prowl span the globe, traveling from Peru to the Bahamas and beyond in pursuit of pleasure. Learn why "Teacher Appreciation" is so special, what sex is like "At the End of the World," and explore some very explosive "Volcano Nights." These unforgettable erotic tales by the top authors in the genre as well as newcomers will arouse and thrill readers looking for a hot time between the pages."

Jocelyn Bringas is the author of Heartthrob Fantasy and Heartthrob Daddy. Her stories have been in various erotica anthologies such as Zane’s Caramel Flava and Rachel Kramer Bussel’s Yes Sir: Erotic Stories of Female Submission.

Rachel Kramer Bussel is the Best Women's Erotica of the Year series editor. Her 60+ anthologies include The Big Book of Orgasms, Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica, Fast Girls and Cheeky Spanking Stories. She writes widely about sex, dating, books, and pop culture and teaches erotica writing workshops in person as well as online at LitReactor.com. Follow her @raquelita on Twitter and find out more about her classes and consulting at eroticawriting101.com.

Melina Greenport lives in Los Angeles where, after a twenty-year career in television and film, she has shifted her focus to writing. While working on a collection of linked fiction, she has taken up erotica and is having a blast. "The House On Orchard" is her first published story. 

Jade A. Waters’ debut novel, The Assignment, will be published by Carina Press in December 2016 as the first of the Lessons in Control series. Her erotic fiction and poetry has been featured in over a dozen anthologies from Cleis Press, Coming Together, Fuse Literary, and Stupid Fish Productions, including Best Women's Erotica of the Year (Vol. 1), Best Erotic Romance of the Year, and Best Women's Erotica 2014. Her stories have also been narrated on The Kiss Me Quick’s Erotica Podcast. Jade lives in the Bay Area of Northern California, and is currently finishing up the final book in her series. Find her on Twitter @jadeawaters or at her website, jadeawaters.com.

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MANJULA MARTIN DISCUSSES HER BOOK SCRATCH WITH JULIA FIERRO, SUSAN ORLEAN, KIMA JONES AND HARMONY HOLIDAY

Posted in , literature, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on April 9th, 2017

SCRATCH: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living (Simon & Schuster)

Based on the online magazine of the same name, SCRATCH: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living is a collection of honest and informative essays and interviews, addressing the relationships between writing and money, work and life, literature and commerce.

In the literary world, we romanticize the image of the struggling artist, but pursuing a career as a creative also stirs a complicated discourse: either writers should be paid for everything they do or they should just pay their dues and count themselves lucky to be published. You should never quit your day job, but your ultimate goal should be to quit your day job. They are told by more-successful writers to “do it for the love,” but the advice gets quiet when it comes to how to make a living out of writing. It’s an endless, confusing, and often controversial conversation that, despite our bare-it- all culture, still remains taboo. For SCRATCH, editor Manjula Martin has gathered interviews and essays from established and rising authors to confront the age-old question: how do creative people make money?

For the first time, these authors get down to the nitty gritty of money, MFA programs, freelancing, teaching fellowships, finally getting published, the bestseller list, and how they define “success”. They also tackle the penetrating questions on what living in the literary world is really like, including issues of diversity, female likeability, debt and credit, and having a family while managing an artists’ career.

The result is an entertaining and inspiring book that helps readers and writers understand what it’s really like to make art in a world that runs on money—and why it matters. Essential reading for aspiring and experienced writers, and for anyone interested in the future of literature, SCRATCH is the go-to guide to doing the impossible: making a living by doing what you love.

Praise for SCRATCH

"Well-organized, fascinating anthology...highly recommended"-Kirkus Reviews

"Solid counseling for aspirants on what it means to offer the labors of their heart for sale in the marketplace."-Publishers Weekly

"Meaningful for those working in any discipline."-Booklist, Starred Review

Manjula Martin created the blog Who Pays Writers? and was the founder and editor of Scratch magazine, an online periodical focused on the business of being a writer. Her writing has appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review, Pacific Standard, SF Weekly, The Billfold, The Toast, and other publications. She is the managing editor of Zoetrope: All-StoryScratch is her first book.

Manjula Martin by Ted Weinsten

Julia Fierro is the author of the novels Cutting Teeth and the forthcoming The Gypsy Moth Summer. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Julia’s work has been published in The Millions, Poets & Writers, Flavorwire, Buzzfeed, GlamourTimeOut New York, Psychology Today, and other publications. She founded The Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop in 2002, and it has since become a creative home to over three thousand writers. Sackett Street was named a “Best NYC Writing Workshop” by the Village Voice, TimeOut New York, and Brooklyn magazine, and a “Best MFA-Alternative” by Poets & Writers. She lives in Brooklyn and Los Angeles with her husband and their two children.

Susan Orlean has been a staff writer at the New Yorker since 1992. She is the author of seven books, including Rin Tin Tin, Saturday Night, and The Orchid Thief, which was made into the Academy Award–winning film Adaptation. She lives with her family and her animals in Los Angeles and may be reached at SusanOrlean.com and Twitter.com/SusanOrlean.

Susan Orlean photo by Gaspar Tringale 

Kima Jones has received fellowships from PEN Center USA Emerging Voices, Kimbilio Fiction, Yaddo's 2016 Howard Moss Residency in poetry and was named the 2014-2015 Gerald Freund Fellow at The MacDowell Colony. She has been published at GQ, Guernica, NPR, PANK, Scratch Magazine and The Rumpus among others and in the anthologies Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, Her Own Accord: American Women on Identity, Culture, and Community and The New York Times Best Seller, The Fire this Time, edited by Jesmyn Ward. Her short story "Nine" received notable mention in Best American Science Fiction 2015. Kima is an MFA candidate in fiction and Rodney Jack Scholar in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. She is a founding board member of Makara Center for the Arts. Kima lives in Los Angeles where she operates Jack Jones Literary Arts, a book publicity company. 

Harmony Holiday, poet and choreographer, is the author of Negro League Baseball (Fence Books, 2011), winner of the Motherwell Poetry Prize; Go Find Your Father/A Famous Blues (Ricochet, 2015), and Hollywood Forever (FenceBooks, 2016). Holiday curates the Afrosonics archive of Jazz Poetics and audio culture as well as a fantastic blog,nonstophome. She teaches at Otis College in Los Angeles and has a BA from the University of California, Berkeley and an MFA from Columbia University. She runs a boutique production house devoted to the crossing between archiving, improvisation, myth, and black music.

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HENRIETTA ROSE-INNES LAUNCHES HER NEW NOVEL NINEVEH AND JULIE SHIGEKUNI LAUNCHES HER NOVEL IN PLAIN VIEW

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on April 2nd, 2017

Nineveh (Unnamed Press)                     In Plain View (Unnamed Press)

Join Skylight Books and Unnamed Press for a celebration of another year of fantastic independent literature and new novels by Henrietta Rose-Innes and Julie Shigekuni

Known throughout the world as one of the new voices of South African writing, Henrietta Rose-Innes is presenting her US debut, Nineveh, alongside Julie Shigekuni, whose brand new novel In Plain View takes readers from Los Feliz to Japan.

In Nineveh, Katya Grubbs, proprietor of Painless Pest Relocations, expertly wrangles every manner of wild critter, creature or beast with the help of her unwitting nephew, Toby. When she is hired to remove the exotic beetles that have overrun Nineveh, a new luxury housing development on the coast, Katya finds that bugs aren’t the only unwelcome creatures hiding in the new, and supposedly vacant, apartments. As she investigates further, it becomes clear that Nineveh is fast becoming an environmental, not to mention architectural, blunder. 

With marshlands encroaching on its borders, and the nearby seaside more menace than attraction, Katya becomes immersed in the world of Nineveh’s few residents—the mysterious caretakers and scavenger crews that survive in its shadow. It is only when her estranged father—a professional exterminator fallen on hard times—reappears in her life, that Nineveh’s deeper secrets are exposed.

Henrietta Rose-Innes is a South African writer based in Cape Town and currently based in Norwich, UK. Nineveh was shortlisted for the M-Net Literary Award and the Sunday Times Fiction Prize, and in 2015 (in French translation, Ninive) it won the François Sommer Literary Prize. She's previously published a collection of short stories, Homing, and the novels Green Lion, Shark's Egg and The Rock Alphabet. She was the winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2008. In 2012 her story “Sanctuary” came second in the BBC International Short Story Prize.
 

In In Plain view, Daidai befriends Satsuki, one of her husband Hiroshi’s graduate students who has recently arrived from Japan.  New to Los Angeles, Satsuki clings to her Japanese heritage and introduces Daidai, who is half-Japanese and raised in America, to many traditions. But soon, Satsuki is appearing at their home uninvited, and when news that Satsuki’s estranged mother has been found dead at a nearby monastery emerges, Daidai is suspicious of her new friend’s intentions.

Daidai begins to investigate the death of Satsuki’s mother—an apparent suicide, but Hiroshi is appalled, and Satsuki feels betrayed. To smoothe things over, Daidai accompanies Satsuki to Mito, Japan to visit her wealthy father. Daidai struggles to better comprehend Satsuki’s troubled past and dysfunctional family, and the trip proves increasingly disastrous. Rattled by the events, Satsuki moves in to Daidai and Hiroshi’s apartment and her dangerous and erratic behavior forces Daidai to uncover the secrets of Satsuki’s past. When Hiroshi is suddenly very seriously ill, Daidai finds herself in a fight to save not just her marriage but her husband’s life.

Julie Shigekuni is the author of four novels: A Bridge Between Us, Invisible Gardens, Unending Nora, and most recently In Plain View. Shigekuni was a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award and the recipient of the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature. She has received a Henfield Award and an American Japanese Literary Award for her writing. She teaches in the creative writing program at the University of New Mexico. 

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MEREDITH ALLING READS FROM HER DEBUT COLLECTION OF STORIES SING THE SONG WITH SIEL JU

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on April 2nd, 2017

Sing the Song (Future Tense Books)

After steadily garnering attention and gaining fans with her appearances in various magazines and websites, Meredith Alling comes out with her debut collection of stories, Sing the Song. For fans of writers like Diane Williams, Amy Hempel, Lydia Davis, Ben Marcus, and Amelia Gray, Alling’s debut will signal the arrival of a new unique voice in fiction. Featuring 27 stories in 100 pages, Alling’s collection is propulsive, dangerous, often funny, and powered by a language that wrestles with anxiety and the unexpected surrealism of modern life. With an ancient ham crawling out from a sewer to tell fortunes, a lone blonde at a party for redheads, and a mother outsmarting a masked criminal,Sing the Song bleeds and breathes with dreamlike surprise.

Meredith Alling lives and works in Los Angeles. Her short fiction has appeared in Tin House, No Tokens, The Fanzine, Spork, The Guardian, and elsewhere. 

Siel Ju's novel-in-stories, Cake Time, is the winner of the 2015 Red Hen Press Fiction Manuscript Award and will be published in April 2017. Siel is also the author of two poetry chapbooks. Her stories and poems appear in ZYZZYVA, The Missouri Review (Poem of the Week), The Los Angeles Review, Denver Quarterly, and other places.

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UC RIVERSIDE MFA STUDENTS READ FROM THEIR WORK

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on April 2nd, 2017

Please join us this afternoon as students in the University of California, Riverside Master of Fine Arts writing program will read from their work. Readers include Samantha Reid Avina, Kate Burns, Chloe Cole, Joshua Rigsby, Jason Schachat and Miranda Tsang

Samantha Reid Aviña is pursuing her MFA in Creative Nonfiction at UCR. Her writing is influenced by life, love, family, food, and secrets.

Kate Burns is a 2nd-year MFA candidate in fiction at UC Riverside.  She lives in Los Angeles. 
 
Chloe Cole has lived for many years on both coasts, and she prefers one over the other. She has written about fandom, feminism and flatulence for Dorkly, The Mary Sue, CollegeHumor and Reductress. She enjoys consuming true-crime media and buying the same striped shirt over and over again.
 
Joshua Rigsby grew up in the famous little town of Roswell, New Mexico. He enjoys writing about the history of tea (among other things). He does not believe in weather balloons.
 
Jason Schachat is a 2nd-year MFA candidate in the UCR Creative Writing program with a focus on fiction. He has worked as a journalist, editor, tutor, screenwriter, director, video game writer, and finder of stray shopping carts.
 
Miranda Tsang grew up in San Francisco. She teaches writing as a Gluck Fellow while in the MFA program at UC Riverside. Tsang has received support from Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, Bread Loaf Writers'
Conference, and Kearny Street Workshop. Her writing is published or forthcoming in The Offing, Lumen, and the HYSTERIA anthology. She is the Poetry Editor at SARR.
 

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