Archive for literature

Kristen Arnett, “MOSTLY DEAD THINGS” w/ Tommy Pico

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on August 9th, 2019

One morning, Jessa-Lynn Morton walks into the family taxidermy shop to find that her father has committed suicide, right there on one of the metal tables. Shocked and grieving, Jessa steps up to manage the failing business, while the rest of the Morton family crumbles. Her mother starts sneaking into the shop to make aggressively lewd art with the taxidermied animals. Her brother Milo withdraws, struggling to function. And Brynn, Milo’s wife— the only person Jessa’s ever been in love with—walks out without a word. As Jessa seeks out less-than-legal ways of generating income, her mother’s art escalates—picture a figure of her dead husband and a stuffed buffalo in an uncomfortably sexual pose—and the Mortons reach a tipping point. For the first time, Jessa has no choice but to learn who these people truly are, and ultimately how she fits alongside them.

Kristen Arnett’s debut novel is a darkly funny, heart- wrenching, and eccentric look at loss and art and love.

Arnett is in conversation with Tommy Pico, author of the books IRL (Birds LLC), Nature Poem (Tin House Books), and Junk (Tin House Books).




Janet Fitch, “CHIMES OF A LOST CATHEDRAL”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction, historical fiction by skylightbooks on August 2nd, 2019

The story of The Revolution of Marina M. continues in bestselling author Janet Fitch's sweeping epic about a young woman's coming into her own against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution. 

After the events of The Revolution of Marina M., the young Marina Makarova finds herself on her own amid the devastation of the Russian Civil War---pregnant and adrift in the Russian countryside, forced onto her own resourcefulness to find a place to wait out the birth of her child. She finds new strength and self-reliance to fortify her in her sojourn, and to prepare her for the hardships and dilemmas still to come.

When she finally returns to Petrograd, the city almost unrecognizable after two years of revolution, the haunted, half-emptied, starving Capital of Once Had Been, she finds the streets teeming with homeless children, victims of war. Now fully a woman, she takes on the challenge of caring for these civil war orphans, until they become the tool of tragedy from an unexpected direction.

But despite the ordeal of war and revolution, betrayal and privation and unimaginable loss, Marina at last emerges as the poet she was always meant to be.

Chimes of a Lost Cathedral finishes the epic story of Marina's journey through some of the most dramatic events of the last century---as a woman and an artist, entering her full power, passion, and creativity just as her revolution reveals its true direction for the future.




David Marlett, “AMERICAN RED”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on July 31st, 2019

The men and women of American Red are among the most fascinating in American history. When, at the dawn of the 20th century, the Idaho governor is assassinated, blame falls on “Big Bill” Haywood, the all-powerful, one-eyed boss of the Western Federation of Miners in Denver. Close by, his polio-crippled wife, Neva, struggles with her wavering faith, her love for another man, and her sister’s affair with her husband. New technologies accelerate American life, but justice lags behind. Private detectives, battling socialists and unions on behalf of wealthy capitalists, will do whatever it takes to see Haywood hanged. The scene is set for bloodshed, from Denver to Boise to San Francisco. America’s most famous attorney, Clarence Darrow, leads the defense—a philandering U.S. senator leads the prosecution—while the press, gunhands, and spies pour in. Among them are two idealists, Jack Garrett and Carla Capone—he a spy for the prosecution, she for the defense. Risking all, they discover truths about their employers, about themselves and each other, and what they’ll sacrifice for justice and honor—and for love.

David Marlett is an award-winning storyteller and writer of historical fiction, primarily historical legal thrillers bringing alive the fascinating people and events leading to major historical trials.




Claudia D. Hernández, “KNITTING THE FOG” w/ Josie Méndez-Negrete

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books by skylightbooks on July 29th, 2019

Weaving together narrative essay and bilingual poetry, Knitting the Fog is the complex self-portrait of a young Chapina girl who wakes up to find her mother gone. When her mother returns three years later, they begin a month-long journey to El Norte.

Once settled in California, Claudia has trouble assimilating--she doesn't speak English, and her Spanish is "weird"--but when back in Guatemala, she is startled to find she no longer belongs there either. Claudia Hernández alternates between lyrical prose and poetry, English and Spanish, to tell the human story of one girl—her struggles, her triumphs, and her growing sense of self—as she navigates a turbulent world in the eighties and nineties. It is a story told in unforgettable vignettes, and is a vivid portrait of immigration, both specific to its time and as timely as ever.

Hernández is joined in conversation by Josie Méndez-Negrete, Professor of Sociology at the University of Texas at San Antonio.




Mona Awad, “BUNNY” w/ Anna Joy Springer

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on July 3rd, 2019

Samantha Heather Mackey couldn’t be more of an outsider in her small, highly selective MFA program at New England’s Warren University. A scholarship student who prefers the company of her dark imagination to that of most people, she is utterly repelled by the rest of her fiction writing cohort–a clique of unbearably twee rich girls who call each other “Bunny,” and are often found entangled in a group hug so tight they become one. 

But everything changes when Samantha receives an invitation to the Bunnies’ fabled “Smut Salon,” and finds herself inexplicably drawn to their front door–ditching her only friend, Ava, a caustic art school dropout, in the process. As Samantha plunges deeper and deeper into the sinister yet saccharine world of the Bunny cult and starts to take part in their ritualistic off-campus “Workshop” where they magically conjure their monstrous creations, the edges of reality begin to blur, and her friendships with Ava and the Bunnies are brought into deadly collision. 

A spellbinding, down-the-rabbit-hole tale of loneliness and belonging, creativity and agency, and friendship and desire, Bunny is the dazzlingly original second book from an author whose work has been described as “honest, searing and necessary” (Elle).

Author Mona Awad is in conversation with cross-genre writer Anna Joy Springer.




Ocean Vuong, “ON EARTH WE’RE BRIEFLY GORGEOUS” w/ Jade Chang

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on July 1st, 2019

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born — a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam — and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity. Asking questions central to our American moment, immersed as we are in addiction, violence, and trauma, but undergirded by compassion and tenderness, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is as much about the power of telling one’s own story as it is about the obliterating silence of not being heard.  With stunning urgency and grace, Ocean Vuong writes of people caught between disparate worlds, and asks how we heal and rescue one another without forsaking who we are. The question of how to survive, and how to make of it a kind of joy, powers the most important debut novel of many years.

Vuong is in conversation with Jade Chang, author of The Wangs vs. the World.




Ted Chiang, “EXHALATION”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction, Short Stories by skylightbooks on June 24th, 2019

From the acclaimed author of Stories of Your Life and Others—the basis for the Academy Award –nominated film Arrival—comes a groundbreaking new collection of short fiction: nine stunningly original, provocative, and poignant stories. These are tales that tackle some of humanity’s oldest questions along with new quandaries only Ted Chiang could imagine. In “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,” a portal through time forces a fabric seller in ancient Baghdad to grapple with past mistakes and second chances. In “Exhalation,” an alien scientist makes a shocking discovery with ramifications that are literally universal. In “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom,” the ability to glimpse into alternate universes necessitates a radically new examination of the concepts of choice and free will.

Including stories being published for the first time as well as some of his rare and classic uncollected work, Exhalation is Ted Chiang at his best: profound, sympathetic—revelatory.




Kathryn Scanlan, “AUG 9–FOG” w/ Amina Cain

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on June 20th, 2019

Fifteen years ago, Kathryn Scanlan found a stranger’s five-year diary at an estate auction in a small town in Illinois. The owner of the diary was eighty-six years old when she began recording the details of her life in the small book, a gift from her daughter and son-in-law. The diary was falling apart―water-stained and illegible in places―but magnetic to Scanlan nonetheless. 

After reading and rereading the diary, studying and dissecting it, for the next fifteen years she played with the sentences that caught her attention, cutting, editing, arranging, and rearranging them into the composition that became Aug 9―Fog (she chose the title from a note that was tucked into the diary). “Sure grand out,” the diarist writes. “That puzzle a humdinger,” she says, followed by, “A letter from Lloyd saying John died the 16th.” An entire state of mourning reveals itself in “2 canned hams.” The result of Scanlan’s collaging is an utterly compelling, deeply moving meditation on life and death.

 In Aug 9Fog, Scanlan’s spare, minimalist approach has a maximal emotional effect, remaining with the reader long after the book ends. It is an unclassifiable work from a visionary young writer and artist—a singular portrait of a life revealed by revision and restraint.

Scanlan is in conversation with Amina Cain,  the author most recently of the short story collection Creature, out with Dorothy.




Maria Hummel, “STILL LIVES” w/ Rebecca Morse

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on June 19th, 2019

Kim Lord is an avant-garde figure, feminist icon, and agent provocateur in the L.A. art scene. Her groundbreaking new exhibition Still Lives is comprised of self-portraits depicting herself as famous, murdered women—the Black Dahlia, Chandra Levy, Nicole Brown Simpson, among many others—and the works are as compelling as they are disturbing, implicating a culture that is too accustomed to violence against women. As the city’s richest art patrons pour into the Rocque Museum’s opening night, all the staff, including editor Maggie Richter, hope the event will be enough to save the historic institution’s flailing finances.

Except Kim Lord never shows up to her own gala. Fear mounts as the hours and days drag on and Lord remains missing. Suspicion falls on the up-and-coming gallerist Greg Shaw Ferguson, who happens to be Maggie’s ex. A rogue’s gallery of eccentric art world figures could also have motive for the act, and as Maggie gets drawn into her own investigation of Lord’s disappearance, she’ll come to suspect all of those closest to her.

Set against a culture that often fetishizes violence, Still Lives is a page-turning exodus into the art world’s hall of mirrors, and one woman’s journey into the belly of an industry flooded with money and secrets.

Hummel is in conversation with Rebecca Morse, curator in the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.




Sarah Pinsker, “SOONER OR LATER EVERYTHING FALLS INTO THE SEA” w/ Rebecca Roanhorse

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, fiction, Short Stories, sci-fi by skylightbooks on June 7th, 2019

Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea is one of the most anticipated SF&F collections of recent years. Sarah Pinsker has shot like a star across the firmament with stories multiply nominated for awards as well as Sturgeon and Nebula award wins.

The baker's dozen stories gathered here (including a new, previously unpublished story) turn readers into travelers to the past, the future, and explorers of the weirder points of the present. The journey is the thing as Pinsker weaves music, memory, technology, history, mystery, love, loss, and even multiple selves on generation ships and cruise ships, on highways and high seas, in murder houses and treehouses. They feature runaways, fiddle-playing astronauts, and retired time travelers; they are weird, wired, hopeful, haunting, and deeply human. They are often described as beautiful but Pinsker also knows that the heart wants what the heart wants and that is not always right, or easy.

Pinsker is in conversation with Rebecca Roanhorse, a Nebula and Hugo Award-winning speculative fiction writer and the recipient of the 2018 Campbell Award for Best New Writer. 




Xuan Juliana Wang, “HOME REMEDIES” w/ Justin Torres

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction, Short Stories by skylightbooks on June 6th, 2019

With evocative writing and impressive range, Xuan Juliana Wang captures the heartbeat of this generation, the Chinese millennial, in Home Remedies. Creative, ambitious, messy and often reckless, Wang’s unforgettable characters are on a quest for every kind of freedom—artistic, familial, individual, sexual, psychological. A pair of synchronized divers at the Beijing Olympics have trained together, living and moving as one body, for half their lives, only to discover themselves through divergence. A Chinese-American student in Paris unwittingly becomes the fashion world’s next “it” girl. An immigrant father attempts to understand his fully American daughter through the logic of algorithms. A group of artists drift through Beijing in search of something—meaning, their next muse, the next thrill.

These are stories of lives on the cusp of change: people who are testing the limits of who they are, who they wish they were, and who they will one day be; in a world that is as vast and changing as their ambitions. Above all, these are sharp stories about the brand new face of Chinese youth, around the world, from an exceptionally talented literary writer.

Wang is in conversation with Justin Torres, author of We the Animals.




Julie Orringer, “THE FLIGHT PORTFOLIO”, w/ Sarah Manguso

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on June 5th, 2019

In 1940, Varian Fry--a Harvard educated American journalist--traveled to Marseille carrying three thousand dollars and a list of imperiled artists and writers he hoped to rescue within a few weeks. Instead, he ended up staying in France for thirteen months, working under the veil of a legitimate relief organization to procure false documents, amass emergency funds, and set up an underground railroad that led over the Pyrenees, into Spain, and finally to Lisbon, where the refugees embarked for safer ports. Among his many clients were Hannah Arendt, Franz Werfel, André Breton, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, and Marc Chagall. 

The Flight Portfolio opens at the Chagalls' ancient stone house in Gordes, France, as the novel's hero desperately tries to persuade them of the barbarism and tragedy descending on Europe. Masterfully crafted, exquisitely written, impossible to put down, this is historical fiction of the very first order, and resounding confirmation of Julie Orringer's gifts as a novelist.

Orringer is in conversation with Sarah Manguso, the author, most recently, of 300 Arguments (2017), a work of aphoristic autobiography.




Sean Carswell, “DEAD EXTRA” w/ Steph Cha

Posted in literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, fiction, mystery by skylightbooks on June 4th, 2019

The early forties have been a tough time for Jack Chesley. His plane was shot down over Germany and he spent two years in a brutal POW camp. During that time, his wife fell in the tub and died.

Prior to her death, the early forties were even tougher for Jack’s wife, Wilma. After Jack was mistakenly presumed dead, she went on a bender that ended with her wrongful commitment to the Camarillo State Psychiatric Hospital. While there, she took up with an alcoholic socialite, a junkie pianist, and a shady hospital employee who promised her a way out. Only that way out set her on the path to the end of her road.

Now Jack’s back in Los Angeles. His sister-in-law and Wilma’s twin, Gertie, hunts him down to tell him Wilma’s death was no accident: she was murdered. Gertie’s first efforts to find the truth earned her a bullet to the collarbone. But that doesn’t mean Gertie is ready to give up. She knows the right places to look and the right people to ask. She needs Jack, who was a cop for a short time before the war, to stick his nose into these places and ask these questions so that, together, they can figure out who killed Wilma, and why.

Dead Extra follows the parallel storylines of Wilma in the months before her murder in 1944 and Jack and Gertie’s search for the killer in 1946. Their adventures carry them through Hollywood’s second-tier studios, the Camarillo psychiatric hospital, Pasadena mansions, downtown jazz clubs, and one seriously sleazy motor court in Oxnard.

Author Sean Carswell is in conversation with Steph Cha,  author of Follow Her HomeBeware Beware, and Dead Soon Enough.




Chia-Chia Lin, “THE UNPASSING” w/ Jamel Brinkley

Posted in literature, book stores, books, fiction, novels by skylightbooks on June 3rd, 2019

A searing debut novel that explores community, identity, and the myth of the American dream through an immigrant family in Alaska

In Chia-Chia Lin’s debut novel, The Unpassing, we meet a Taiwanese immigrant family of six struggling to make ends meet on the outskirts of Anchorage, Alaska. The father, hardworking but beaten down, is employed as a plumber and repairman, while the mother, a loving, strong-willed, and unpredictably emotional matriarch, holds the house together. When ten-year-old Gavin contracts meningitis at school, he falls into a deep, nearly fatal coma. He wakes up a week later to learn that his little sister Ruby was infected, too. She did not survive.

Routine takes over for the grieving family: the siblings care for each other as they befriend a neighboring family and explore the woods; distance grows between the parents as they deal with their loss separately. But things spiral when the father, increasingly guilt ridden after Ruby’s death, is sued for not properly installing a septic tank, which results in grave harm to a little boy. In the ensuing chaos, what really happened to Ruby finally emerges.

With flowing prose that evokes the terrifying beauty of the Alaskan wilderness, Lin explores the fallout after the loss of a child and the way in which a family is forced to grieve in a place that doesn’t yet feel like home. Emotionally raw and subtly suspenseful, The Unpassing is a deeply felt family saga that dismisses the American dream for a harsher, but ultimately more profound, reality.

Lin is in conversation with Jamel Brinkley, author of A Lucky Man: Stories.




Judith Teitelman, “GUESTHOUSE FOR GANESHA”

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, fiction by skylightbooks on May 31st, 2019

In 1923, seventeen-year-old “Esther Grünspan arrives in Köln with a hardened heart as her sole luggage.” Thus, she begins a twenty-two-year journey, woven against the backdrops of the European Holocaust and the Hindu Kali Yuga (the “Age of Darkness” when human civilization degenerates spiritually), in search of a place of sanctuary. Throughout her travails, using cunning and shrewdness, Esther relies on her masterful tailoring skills to help mask her Jewish heritage, navigate war-torn Europe, and emigrate to India.

Esther’s traveling companion and the novel’s narrator is Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu God worshiped by millions for his abilities to destroy obstacles, bestow wishes, and avenge evils. Impressed by Esther’s fortitude and relentless determination, born of her deep―though unconscious―understanding of the meaning and purpose of love, Ganesha, with compassion, insight, and poetry, chooses to highlight her story because he recognizes it is all of our stories―for truth resides at the essence of its telling.

Weaving Eastern beliefs and perspectives with Western realities and pragmatism, Guesthouse for Ganesha is a tale of love, loss, and spirit reclaimed.





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