Archive for journalism

LIVE ON CROWDCAST: Lynell George, “A HANDFUL OF EARTH, A HANDFUL OF SKY” w/ Louise Steinman

Posted in literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, journalism, writing, biography, live on crowdcast by skylightbooks on February 8th, 2021

A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky: The World of Octavia E. Butler offers a blueprint for a creative life from the perspective of award-winning science-fiction writer and “MacArthur Genius” Octavia E. Butler. It is a collection of ideas about how to look, listen, breathe—how to be in the world. This book is about the creative process, but not on the page; its canvas is much larger. Author Lynell George not only engages the world that shaped Octavia E. Butler, she also explores the very specific processes through which Butler shaped herself—her unique process of self-making. It’s about creating a life with what little you have—hand-me-down books, repurposed diaries, journals, stealing time to write in the middle of the night, making a small check stretch—bit by bit by bit. A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky draws the reader into Butler’s world, creating a sense of unmatched intimacy with the deeply private writer.

George is in conversation with writer, artist, and literary curator Louise Steinman.

 
This episode was recorded on November 9, 2020 during a live Crowdcast event hosted by Skylight Books. Visit us at www.crowdcast.io/skylightbooks to RSVP for future events.
 
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Produced by Maddie Gobbo & Michael Kowaleski

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

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




LIVE ON CROWDCAST: Megan Rosenbloom, “DARK ARCHIVES” w/ Caitlin Doughty

Posted in literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, nonfiction, journalism, history, skylit by skylightbooks on February 5th, 2021
On bookshelves around the world, surrounded by ordinary books bound in paper and leather, rest other volumes of a distinctly strange and grisly sort: those bound in human skin. Would you know one if you held it in your hand?

In Dark Archives, Megan Rosenbloom seeks out the historic and scientific truths behind anthropodermic bibliopegy—the practice of binding books in this most intimate covering. Dozens of such books live on in the world’s most famous libraries and museums. Dark Archives exhumes their origins and brings to life the doctors, murderers, innocents, and indigents whose lives are sewn together in this disquieting collection. Along the way, Rosenbloom tells the story of how her team of scientists, curators, and librarians test rumored anthropodermic books, untangling the myths around their creation and reckoning with the ethics of their custodianship.

A librarian and journalist, Rosenbloom is a member of The Order of the Good Death and a cofounder of their Death Salon, a community that encourages conversations, scholarship, and art about mortality and mourning. In Dark Archives—captivating and macabre in all the right ways—she has crafted a narrative that is equal parts detective work, academic intrigue, history, and medical curiosity: a book as rare and thrilling as its subject.

Rosenbloom is joined by mortician and activist Caitlin Doughty.
 
This episode was recorded on October 29 during a live Crowdcast event hosted by Skylight Books. Visit us at www.crowdcast.io/skylightbooks to RSVP for future events.
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Produced by Maddie Gobbo & Michael Kowaleski

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

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




SKYLIT: Amelia Pang, “MADE IN CHINA” w/ Agnes Borinsky

Posted in skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, nonfiction, journalism, skylit by skylightbooks on January 31st, 2021

Trigger Warning: Contains descriptions of torture and sexual violence.

In 2012, an Oregon mother named Julie Keith opened up a package of Halloween decorations. The cheap foam headstones had been five dollars at Kmart, too good a deal to pass up. But when she opened the box, something shocking fell out: an SOS letter, handwritten in broken English.
 

“Sir: If you occassionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization. Thousands people here who are under the persicuton of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever.”

The note’s author, Sun Yi, was a mild-mannered Chinese engineer turned political prisoner, forced into grueling labor for campaigning for the freedom to join a forbidden meditation movement. He was imprisoned alongside petty criminals, civil rights activists, and tens of thousands of others the Chinese government had decided to “reeducate,” carving foam gravestones and stitching clothing for more than fifteen hours a day.

In Made in China, investigative journalist Amelia Pang pulls back the curtain on Sun’s story and the stories of others like him, including the persecuted Uyghur minority group whose abuse and exploitation is rapidly gathering steam. What she reveals is a closely guarded network of laogai—forced labor camps—that power the rapid pace of American consumerism. Through extensive interviews and firsthand reportage, Pang shows us the true cost of America’s cheap goods and shares what is ultimately a call to action—urging us to ask more questions and demand more answers from the companies we patronize.

Pang is in conversation with fellow author and Skylight's own Agnes Borinsky.

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Produced by Maddie Gobbo & Michael Kowaleski

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

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




SKYLIT: Daniel Brook, “THE ACCIDENT OF COLOR” w/ Erin Aubry Kaplan & Guenveur Smith

Posted in skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, nonfiction, journalism, history, BIPOC, skylit by skylightbooks on November 30th, 2020

In The Accident of Color, Daniel Brook journeys to nineteenth-century New Orleans and Charleston and introduces us to cosmopolitan residents who elude the racial categories the rest of America takes for granted. Before the Civil War, these free, openly mixed-race urbanites enjoyed some rights of citizenship and the privileges of wealth and social status. But after Emancipation, as former slaves move to assert their rights, the black-white binary that rules the rest of the nation begins to intrude. During Reconstruction, a movement arises as mixed-race elites make common cause with the formerly enslaved and allies at the fringes of whiteness in a bid to achieve political and social equality for all.

In some areas, this coalition proved remarkably successful. Activists peacefully integrated the streetcars of Charleston and New Orleans for decades and, for a time, even the New Orleans public schools and the University of South Carolina were educating students of all backgrounds side by side. Tragically, the achievements of this movement were ultimately swept away by a violent political backlash and expunged from the history books, culminating in the Jim Crow laws that would legalize segregation for a half century and usher in the binary racial regime that rules us to this day.

Brook is in conversation with journalist Erin Aubry Kaplan and actor/director/writer Roger Guenveur Smith.

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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: Frederick Kaufman, “THE MONEY PLOT” w/ Indrani Sen

Posted in skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, nonfiction, journalism, business, skylit by skylightbooks on November 25th, 2020

Frederick Kaufman tackles the complex history of money, beginning with the earliest myths and wrapping up with Wall Street’s byzantine present-day doings. Along the way, he exposes a set of allegorical plots, stock characters, and stereotypical metaphors that have long been linked with money and commercial culture, from Melanesian trading rituals to the dogma of Medieval churchmen faced with global commerce, the rationales of Mercantilism and colonial expansion, and the U.S. dollar’s 1971 unpinning from gold.
 
The Money Plot offers a tool to see through the haze of modern banking and finance, demonstrating that the standard reasons given for economic inequality—the Neoliberal gospel of market forces—are, like dollars, euros, and yuan, contingent upon structures people have designed. It shines a light on the one percent’s efforts to contain a money culture that benefits them within boundaries they themselves are increasingly setting. And Kaufman warns that if we cannot recognize what is going on, we run the risk of becoming pawns and shells ourselves, of becoming characters in someone else’s plot, of becoming other people’s money.

Kaufman is in conversation with Indrani Sen, editor-in-chief at Forge and editorial director at Medium.

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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: Carmen Boullosa, “LET’S TALK ABOUT YOUR WALL” w/ Juan Villoro

Posted in skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, nonfiction, journalism, latinx, skylit, immigration by skylightbooks on November 13th, 2020

Despite the extensive coverage in the U.S. media of the southern border and Donald Trump's proposed wall, most English speakers have had little access to the multitude of perspectives from Mexico on the ongoing crisis. Celebrated novelist Carmen Boullosa (author of Texas and Before) and Alberto Quintero redress this imbalance with this collection of essays--translated into English for the first time--drawing on writing by journalists, novelists, and documentary-makers who are Mexican or based in Mexico. Contributors include the award-winning author Valeria Luiselli, whose Tell Me How It Ends is the go-to book on the child migrant crisis, and the novelist Yuri Herrera, author of the highly acclaimed Signs Preceding the End of the World.

Let's Talk About Your Wall uses Trump's wall as a starting point to discuss important questions, including the history of U.S.-Mexican relations, and questions of sovereignty, citizenship, and borders. An essential resource for anyone seeking to form a well-grounded opinion on one of the central issues of our day, Let's Talk About Your Wall provides a fierce and compelling counterpoint to the racist bigotry and irrational fear that consumes the debate over immigration, and a powerful symbol of opposition to exclusion and hate.

Boullosa is in conversation with writer and journalist Juan Villoro.

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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: Adam Goodman, “THE DEPORTATION MACHINE” w/ Romeo Guzmán

Posted in literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, nonfiction, journalism, activism, latinx, skylit by skylightbooks on November 11th, 2020

Constant headlines about deportations, detention camps, and border walls drive urgent debates about immigration and what it means to be an American in the twenty-first century. The Deportation Machine traces the long and troubling history of the US government's systematic efforts to terrorize and expel immigrants over the past 140 years. This provocative, eye-opening book provides needed historical perspective on one of the most pressing social and political issues of our time.

In a sweeping and engaging narrative, Adam Goodman examines how federal, state, and local officials have targeted various groups for expulsion, from Chinese and Europeans at the turn of the twentieth century to Central Americans and Muslims today. He reveals how authorities have singled out Mexicans, nine out of ten of all deportees, and removed most of them not by orders of immigration judges but through coercive administrative procedures and calculated fear campaigns. Goodman uncovers the machine's three primary mechanisms--formal deportations, voluntary departures, and self-deportations--and examines how public officials have used them to purge immigrants from the country and exert control over those who remain. Exposing the pervasive roots of anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States, The Deportation Machine introduces the politicians, bureaucrats, businesspeople, and ordinary citizens who have pushed for and profited from expulsion.

Goodman is in conversation with academic, public historian, and cultural worker Romeo Guzmán.

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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: Vanessa Díaz, “MANUFACTURING CELEBRITY” w/ Elizabeth Hinton

Posted in skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, nonfiction, journalism, skylit by skylightbooks on September 21st, 2020

In Manufacturing Celebrity, Vanessa Díaz traces the complex power dynamics of the reporting and paparazzi work that fuel contemporary Hollywood and American celebrity culture. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, her experience reporting for Peoplemagazine, and dozens of interviews with photographers, journalists, publicists, magazine editors, and celebrities, Díaz examines the racialized and gendered labor involved in manufacturing and selling relatable celebrity personas. Celebrity reporters, most of whom are white women, are expected to leverage their sexuality to generate coverage, which makes them vulnerable to sexual exploitation and assault. Meanwhile, the predominantly male Latino paparazzi can face life-threatening situations and endure vilification that echoes anti-immigrant rhetoric. In pointing out the precarity of those who hustle to make a living by generating the bulk of celebrity media, Díaz highlights the profound inequities of the systems that provide consumers with 24/7 coverage of their favorite stars.

Díaz is in conversation with Elizabeth Hinton, Associate Professor of History and African American Studies at Yale University and Professor of Law at Yale Law School. She is a historian of American inequality who is considered one of the nation’s leading experts on policing and mass incarceration.

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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: Morgan Jerkins, “WANDERING IN STRANGE LANDS” w/ Soraya Nadia McDonald

Posted in literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, nonfiction, journalism by skylightbooks on August 22nd, 2020

Between 1916 and 1970, six million black Americans left their rural homes in the South for jobs in cities in the North, West, and Midwest in a movement known as The Great Migration. But while this event transformed the complexion of America and provided black people with new economic opportunities, it also disconnected them from their roots, their land, and their sense of identity, argues Morgan Jerkins. In this fascinating and deeply personal exploration, she recreates her ancestors’ journeys across America, following the migratory routes they took from Georgia and South Carolina to Louisiana, Oklahoma, and California. 

Following in their footsteps, Jerkins seeks to understand not only her own past, but the lineage of an entire group of people who have been displaced, disenfranchised, and disrespected throughout our history. Through interviews, photos, and hundreds of pages of transcription, Jerkins braids the loose threads of her family’s oral histories, which she was able to trace back 300 years, with the insights and recollections of black people she met along the way—the tissue of black myths, customs, and blood that connect the bones of American history. 

Incisive and illuminating, Wandering in Strange Lands is a timely and enthralling look at America’s past and present, one family’s legacy, and a young black woman’s life, filtered through her sharp and curious eyes.

Jerkins is in conversation with Soraya Nadia McDonald, award-winning cultural critic for The Undefeated, ESPN’s premiere platform covering race, sports, and culture. She writes about film, television, and the arts.

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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.

 




Colin Dickey, “THE UNIDENTIFIED” w/ Molly Lambert, Tess Lynch, & Emily Yoshida

Posted in literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, nonfiction, journalism by skylightbooks on August 18th, 2020

In a world where rational, scientific explanations are more available than ever, belief in the unprovable and irrational–in fringe–is on the rise: from Atlantis to aliens, from Flat Earth to the Loch Ness monster, the list goes on. It seems the more our maps of the known world get filled in, the more we crave mysterious locations full of strange creatures.

Enter Colin Dickey, Cultural Historian and Tour Guide of the Weird. With the same curiosity and insight that made Ghostland a hit with readers and critics, Colin looks at what all fringe beliefs have in common, explaining that today’s Illuminati is yesterday’s Flat Earth: the attempt to find meaning in a world stripped of wonder. Dickey visits the wacky sites of America’s wildest fringe beliefs–from the famed Mount Shasta where the ancient race (or extra-terrestrials, or possibly both, depending on who you ask) called Lemurians are said to roam, to the museum containing the last remaining “evidence” of the great Kentucky Meat Shower–investigating how these theories come about, why they take hold, and why as Americans we keep inventing and re-inventing them decade after decade. The Unidentified is Colin Dickey at his best: curious, wry, brilliant in his analysis, yet eminently readable.

Dickey is joined in conversation by writers Molly LambertTess Lynch, and Emily Yoshida.

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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: Ben Ehrenreich, “DESERT NOTEBOOKS” w/ Anthony McCann

Posted in skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, nonfiction, journalism, nature, climate change, science by skylightbooks on August 10th, 2020

National Magazine Award winner and The Nation columnist Ben Ehrenreich layers climate science, mythologies, nature writing, and personal experiences into a stunning reckoning with our current moment and with the literal and figurative end of time. Desert Notebooks examines how the unprecedented pace of destruction to our environment and an increasingly unstable geopolitical landscape have led us to the brink of a calamity greater than any humankind has confronted before. As inhabitants of the Anthropocene, what might some of our own histories tell us about how to confront apocalypse? And how might the geologies and ecologies of desert spaces inform how we see and act toward time—the pasts we have erased and paved over, this anxious present, the future we have no choice but to build? Ehrenreich draws on the stark grandeur of the desert to ask how we might reckon with the uncertainty that surrounds us and fight off the crises that have already begun.

In the canyons and oases of the Mojave and in Las Vegas’s neon apocalypse, Ehrenreich finds beauty, and even hope, surging up in the most unlikely places, from the most barren rocks, and the apparent emptiness of the sky. Desert Notebooks is a vital and necessary chronicle of our past and our present—unflinching, urgent—and yet timeless and profound.

Ehrenreich is in conversation with Anthony McCann, author of four collections of poetry.

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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: Jennifer Levitz & Melissa Korn, “UNACCEPTABLE” w/ Asbhy Jones

Posted in skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, nonfiction, journalism by skylightbooks on August 7th, 2020

The largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice broke on March 12, 2019, sending shock waves through American schools and families. In Unacceptable, veteran Wall Street Journal reporters Melissa Korn and Jennifer Levitz trace the wiretapped calls, covert payments, and blatant deceit that brought the feds to Beverly Hills mansions and Upper East Side apartments, their residents all linked by one man: college whisperer and ultimate hustler Rick Singer. 
 
The shocking tale at the heart of Unacceptable is how, over decades, the charismatic Singer easily exploited a system rigged against regular people. Exploring the status obsession that seduced entitled parents in search of an edge, Korn and Levitz detail a scheme that eventually entangled more than fifty conspirators—a catalog of wealth and privilege that included CEOs, lawyers, real-estate developers, financiers, and famous actresses, mingling in jail cells and courtrooms.
 
Detailing Singer’s steady rise and dramatic fall, woven with stories of key players in the case, Unacceptable exposes the ugly underbelly of elite college admissions as a game with no rule book—paid-off proctors and storied college coaches turning a blind eye, helicopter parents and coddled teens spinning lies—opening loopholes and side doors into America’s most exclusive institutions.

Levitz and Korn are in conversation with Ashby Jones, deputy coverage chief for U.S. News at The Wall Street Journal.

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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.




Lulu Miller, “WHY FISH DON’T EXIST”

Posted in literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, nonfiction, journalism by skylightbooks on April 29th, 2020

David Starr Jordan was a taxonomist, a man possessed with bringing order to the natural world. In time, he would be credited with discovering nearly a fifth of the fish known to humans in his day. But the more of the hidden blueprint of life he uncovered, the harder the universe seemed to try to thwart him. His specimen collections were demolished by lightning, by fire, and eventually by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake--which sent more than a thousand of his discoveries, housed in fragile glass jars, plummeting to the floor. In an instant, his life's work was shattered.

Many might have given up, given in to despair. But Jordan? He surveyed the wreckage at his feet, found the first fish he recognized, and confidently began to rebuild his collection. And this time, he introduced one clever innovation that he believed would at last protect his work against the chaos of the world.

When NPR reporter Lulu Miller first heard this anecdote in passing, she took Jordan for a fool --a cautionary tale in hubris, or denial. But as her own life slowly unraveled, she began to wonder about him. Perhaps instead he was a model for how to go on when all seemed lost. What she would unearth about his life would transform her understanding of history, morality, and the world beneath her feet.

Part biography, part memoir, part scientific adventure, Why Fish Don't Exist reads like a fable about how to persevere in a world where chaos will always prevail.

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Produced by Maddie Gobbo & Michael Kowaleski

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




Felicia Angeja Viator, “TO LIVE AND DEFY IN LA”

Posted in skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, music, journalism, hip-hop/rap by skylightbooks on April 20th, 2020

We all take for granted how synonymous hip-hop music, which dominates the music charts around the world, is with American culture today. This is a product of Los Angeles rap in the 1980s, argues Felicia Angeja Viator in her compelling new history TO LIVE AND DEFY IN LA: How Gangsta Rap Changed America (Harvard University Press). Her book tells a unique story about black LA to explain how and why the region's rap artists, labels, and audiences forever transformed American popular culture.

Viator, who worked for years as a DJ, tells the history of a sub-genre of hip-hop considered so dystopian that it initially struck aspiring Brooklyn rapper and future superstar Jay-Z as "over the top." In the Reagan era, hip-hop was understood to be the music of the inner city and, with rare exception, of New York. Rap was considered the poetry of the street, and it was thought to breed in close quarters, the product of dilapidated tenements, drug-infested housing projects, and graffiti-covered subway cars. To many in the industry, LA simply wasn't hard enough to generate "authentic" hip-hop. The assumption was that defiant black youth music couldn't come from La-La Land. Yet, by the end of the '80s, these self-styled “ghetto reporters” from Compton, South Central, Inglewood, Crenshaw, and Long Beach had fought their way onto the nation’s radio and TV stations, and thus into America’s consciousness. In doing so, they exposed the nation to police brutality, mocked law-and-order crusaders, outraged moral guardians, minted rebel anthems, and demanded that America confront its flaws.

Viator created a Spotify playlist with songs featured in her book. To listen, click herehttps://open.spotify.com/playlist/5SYpeARYAjpIYcKaFww4qP?si=kHi53tSyQmuwWjs4ZCJqtw

Part of Skylight Books' "SKYLIT" series.

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Produced by Maddie Gobbo & Michael Kowaleski

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

 




Kyle Chayka, “THE LONGING FOR LESS” w/ Geoff Manaugh

Posted in skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, journalism by skylightbooks on March 20th, 2020

Everywhere we hear the mantra: Less is more. Marie Kondo and other decluttering gurus promise that shedding our stuff will solve our problems, while tech-industry lifehackers preach a ruthless time-management gospel. We commit to cleanse diets and strive for inbox zero. Amid the frantic pace and distraction of everyday life, we covet silence--and airy, Instagrammable spaces in which to enjoy it. All the while, the enduring values of minimalism become harder to discern through its branding as yet another luxury commodity.

After spending years covering these trends for leading publications, cultural critic Kyle Chayka delves beneath the minimalist lifestyle's glossy surface, seeking ways to better claim the time and space we crave, on our own terms. He finds that the origins of our current love affair with austerity go back further than we realize, as his search leads him to the stories of the singular innovators whose creativity laid the foundation for minimalism as we know it today: artists such as Donald Judd and Agnes Martin; composers such as John Cage and Julius Eastman; architects and ascetics; philosophers and poets. As Chayka looks anew at their extraordinary lives and explores the places where they worked, he gleans fresh insights into our longing for less. And finally, tracing the footsteps of two Japanese literary masters, he arrives at an elegant new synthesis of our minimalist desires and our profound emotional needs.

Chayka discusses The Longing for Less w/ Geoff Manaugh,  Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the author of A Burglar’s Guide to the City





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