Archive for literature

CARI LYNN WITH SAUL SARABIA, ANTOINETTE CARTER, AND TIFFANY JOHNSON DISCUSS BECOMING MS. BURTON

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on September 25th, 2017

Becoming Ms. Burton (New Press)

Becoming Ms. Burton is one woman's remarkable odyssey from tragedy to prison to recovery--and recognition as a leading figure in the national justice reform movement 

Susan Burton's world changed in an instant when her five-year-old son was killed by a van driving down their street. Consumed by grief and without access to professional help, Susan self-medicated, becoming addicted first to cocaine, then crack. As a resident of South Los Angeles, a black community under siege in the War on Drugs, it was but a matter of time before Susan was arrested. She cycled in and out of prison for over fifteen years; never was she offered therapy or treatment for addiction. On her own, she eventually found a private drug rehabilitation facility. Once clean, Susan dedicated her life to supporting women facing similar struggles. Her organization, A New Way of Life, operates five safe homes in Los Angeles that supply a lifeline to hundreds of formerly incarcerated women and their children--setting them on the track to education and employment rather than returns to prison. Becoming Ms. Burton not only humanizes the deleterious impact of mass incarceration, it also points the way to the kind of structural and policy changes that will offer formerly incarcerated people the possibility of a life of meaning and dignity.

Praise for Becoming Ms. Burton 

"Susan Burton is an angel among us. Her journey is a story of courage, compassion, and conviction. At turns harrowing and inspiring, Becoming Ms. Burton provides a valuable new perspective on the consequences of mass incarceration." -- Howard Schultz, executive chairman, Starbucks Coffee Company 

"Susan Burton's life and work are a testament to the power of second chances and the impact one person can have on the lives of others. Her book is a stirring and moving tour-de-force--a beautiful inspiration for all of us to continue to fight for justice." -- John Legend, actor, singer, and songwriter 

"More than just a memoir, this account provides an intimate glimpse into the problems that plague the U.S. prison system." -- Library Journal 

"Burton has helped thousands of formerly incarcerated and homeless individuals, and now, by telling her story, she continues to advocate for a more humane justice system guided by compassion and dignity." -- Booklist (starred) 

"The book documents Burton's tireless efforts to effect change---first helping individual women, released from prison with few resources, to make a new start, and then snowballing advocacy efforts at the state and national level to reshape how the United States treats those with criminal records." --Publishers Weekly 

"A dramatic, honest, moving narrative of how hard life can get and how one can still overcome seemingly insurmountable adversity to do good in the world." -- Kirkus Reviews 

"Susan Burton is someone who inspires while she educates. Her powerful and compelling memoir is an unforgettable journey and also an extraordinary light for all who are looking for answers on how we must recover, restore, and redeem those who have been incarcerated. This is a must-read." -- Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of Just Mercy 

" Becoming Ms. Burton eloquently shows why the voices of formerly incarcerated women must be at the center of efforts to reconstruct the criminal legal system. Too often this nation criminalizes the trauma of black women; Susan Burton exposes this terrible truth by sharing her astounding story of redemption. This is critical reading for champions of justice everywhere."-- Monique W. Morris, author of Pushout 

"For almost two decades Susan Burton has been a trailblazing advocate for ending mass incarceration, especially as it relates to poor women of color. Becoming Ms. Burton details her remarkable personal transformation as well as the larger structural changes this country must make in order to achieve racial and economic justice. It is essential reading for anyone who cares about these issues."-- Daryl V. Atkinson, civil and human rights advocate, lawyer, and member of the Leadership Council of the Formerly Incarcerated Convicted People and Families Movement 

"Susan's life story is one our nation desperately needs to hear and understand. This is a story about personal transformation and collective power. It is about one woman's journey to freedom, and in the process helping to free us all."-- Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow

Co-author of Becoming Ms. BurtonCari Lynn is a journalist who’s written several books of nonfiction, including The Whistleblower, Leg the Spread, and the historic novel Madam. Cari has written for numerous publications, including O, the Oprah Magazine, Health, the Chicago Tribune, Deadline Hollywood and the Hollywood Reporter. She has taught and guest lectured around the country.  She received an M.A. in Writing from the Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Maryland. A longtime Chicagoan, she currently lives in Los Angeles.

For over 20 years, Saúl Sarabia has participated in social movements to transform society and has worked to end structural racism and discrimination by developing leaders, changing laws, and teaching. As the director of UCLA School of Law’s Critical Race Studies Program, Saul trained students to fight injustice by partnering with organizations working for social change. Along with challenging racism in the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, and helping undocumented college students build a voice an a social movement, Saúl and his students worked with Susan Burton to create the UCLA Law-A New Way of Life Legal Re-enty Clinic to assist formerly incarcerated people fighting employment discrimination. Saúl holds both a B.A. and J.D. from UCLA.

The daughter of criminal-justice activist Susan Burton, Antoinette Carter’s life story features heavily in Becoming Ms. Burton.  A South Los Angeles native, Antoinette is a human resources executive at a Fortune 500 company.

Tiffany Johnson first heard about A New Way of Life Re-Entry Project (ANWOL) on the grounds of Central California Women’s Facility while serving a 15-to-life sentence. On April 28, 2010, she walked through the doors of ANWOL to start her new life. Through ANWOL’s guidance and connections, she went on to claim a career and live on her own. In December of 2013, she joined ANWOL’s staff as a full-time community organizer for All of Us or None-Southern California. As of January 2015, Tiffany is now ANWOL’s Associate Director. As a subject matter expert, Tiffany has completed numerous presentations throughout the country and offers a unique perspective on the intricacies of overcoming re-entry barriers after years of incarceration. 
 

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MICHELLE TEA DISCUSSES HER BOOK MODERN TAROT

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on September 25th, 2017

Modern Tarot (HarperElixir)

Literary icon Michelle Tea offers fresh new take on tarot that encourages self-love, personal growth and self-discovery.

With her trademark wisdom and sharp sense of humor, author Michelle Tea shows how tarot offers moments of deep connection during a time when connection is ubiquitous but rarely delves beneath the surface. Based on over 25 years of experience and a deep and abiding love of the cards, Tea’s new book, Modern Tarot brings her charm, authenticity, and knowledge to the tradition of the tarot. Tea brings a fresh approach to the tarot guide infused with her unique insight, dark humor, and pop sensibility. Modern Tarot is a fascinating journey through the cards that teaches how to use this tradition to connect with our higher selves.

Whether you’re a full believer of the cards or a digital-age skeptic-- or a little of both-- the power of tarot is open to everyone. This guide doesn’t ask you to believe in magic or insist upon using tarot as a divination tool. Instead, fiercely insightful descriptions of each of the 78 cards in the tarot system (each illustrated in the charmingly offbeat style of cartoonist Amanda Verwey) and specially designed card-based rituals that can be used with any deck help take readers on a path toward radical growth and self-improvement.

Author, activist, and queer/feminist icon Michelle Tea is the author of five memoirs, including the award-winning Valencia (now a film). Her novels include Mermaid in Chelsea Creek, the first in a Young Adult fantasy trilogy published by McSweeneys. Tea is the Founding Artistic Director of RADAR Productions, a queer-feminist literary non-profit in San Francisco and is the editor of Sister Spit Books, an imprint of City Lights. Her writing has appeared in The Believer, n+1, Buzzfeed, The Bold Italic, Marie Claire, xoJane.com and many other print and web publications.

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PEN CENTER USA PRESENTS THE 2018 EMERGING VOICES MEET AND GREET

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on September 25th, 2017

PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellowship Meet and Greet Los Angeles

Join Emerging Voices Fellows, Alumni, and Mentors in Conversation for the 2018 Application Cycle at Skylight Books. PEN Center USA presents summer cocktails, short readings, a fellowship overview and audience Q&A. 

Featuring: Patrick O’Neil, Jian Huang, Mike Padilla, Peter H.Z. Hsu, Kirin Khan and Soleil David

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JENNIFER ROMOLINI DISCUSSES HER BOOK WEIRD IN A WORLD THAT’S NOT

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on September 25th, 2017

Weird in a World That's Not: A Career Guide for Misfits, F*ckups, and Failures (HarperBusiness)

Are you “awkward?” Do you often feel like a spiky misfit at work? Does overthinking, anxiety and crippling self-doubt stand between you and the path to success? Have you taken so many wrong turns that it feels like you’ll never find the way forward, towards a truly rewarding career?

Weird in a World That's Not: A Career Guide for Misfits, F*ckups, and Failures, Jennifer Romolini’s wise, witty, and straight-talking how-to, asserts that being outside-the- norm and achieving real, high-level success are not mutually exclusive, even if the perception of the business world often seems otherwise, even if it seems like only office-politicking extroverts are set up for reward.

In this indispensable guide designed for oddballs, the popular speaker, former editor-in- chief of HelloGiggles, and self-professed weirdo shares essential information about navigating the workforce when you’re unconventional — and retaining your authenticity in the process. Romolini is an outsider who’s been there and done it; she started her career late, climbed the New York media ladder and, in just a few years, went from being a broke, divorced, college dropout to running some of the biggest websites in the world. As her inspiring story demonstrates, outliers are more than capable of excelling in the conventional business world, where weirdness can actually serve as an asset rather than a handicap.

Part memoir, part real-world guide, Weird in a World That's Not provides relatable, practical advice for readers at any stage in their careers. With real-life anecdotes and challenges interwoven throughout, this invaluable manual addresses a range of situations, including:

  • Discovering the career that’s right for you
  • Acing an initial interview and how to rebound if you don’t get the job;
  • Surviving intense office politics;
  • Knowing how and when to leave a sh*tty job;
  • Becoming a great leader when managing people is often the worst;
  • Staying true to who you are while accomplishing all of the above.

Jennifer Romolini is the former editor-in- chief and Vice President of Content at HelloGiggles, a site for millennial women founded by actress Zooey Deschanel. She was previously the editor-in- chief of Yahoo Shine, the deputy editor of Lucky Magazine, and held editorial positions at Time Out New York and Talk Magazine. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

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ISRAEL CENTENO READS FROM HIS NEW NOVEL THE CONSPIRACY

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

The Conspiracy (Phoneme Media)

When leftist revolutionary Sergio's sniper shot misses the President of Venezuela, he's thrown into a sudden tailspin. As he attempts to escape the increasingly militarized regime, he winds up taking residence in a bohemian beachside commune, where he keeps a low profile until Lourdes, his former comrade, the object of his desire, and his possible betrayer, turns up one evening. Pursued by their former trainer in guerrilla warfare on the orders of the newly appointed Minister of the Interior, the two team up with unlikely partners to hatch a new plan for their survival. This poetic thriller, the second in Phoneme Media's City of Asylum imprint, challenges the origin myth of South America's radical left, resulting in its author's exile from Venezuela.

Praise for The Conspiracy 

"A rare voice from Venezuela. In this fever dream of a novel shot through with dark humor, Centeno grapples with the fallout from generations of violence and corruption." —Natasha Wimmer, translator of Roberto Bolaño'sThe Savage Detectives and 2666

"His fleshy, psychologically penetrating work is one of the great undiscovered literary experiences of Latin America." —Aurelio Major, co-founding editor of Granta en Español

"The alleyways and hideaways of Israel Centeno's Venezuela are as real and visceral as the streets of Pasolini's Rome." —Dermot Bolger, author of The Journey Home

Israel Centeno was born in Venezuela in 1958. He has published 14 books, primarily novels but short story and poetry collections as well. He is regarded as on of the most important Venezuelan literary figures of the last fifty years. He has won the Federico García Lorca Award in Spain and the National Council of Culture Award in Venezuela. Since 2011 he has lives in Pittsburgh with his wife and two daughters, as an exiled writer-in-residence at City of Asylum Pittsburgh.

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DANIEL RILEY READS FROM HIS NOVEL FLY ME AND ROSECRANS BALDWIN READS FROM HIS NOVEL THE LAST KID LEFT

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

Fly Me (Little Brown & Company)

The year is 1972 and Suzy Whitman arrives in Sela del Mar, a debaucherous beach town in the shadows of LAX, lured across the country by the desire for danger and acceptance, and the possibility of escaping her past. Full of startling psychological insight, Daniel Riley’s debut novel, Fly Me is a haunting tour de force. Richly evoking the sights and sounds of the era, Riley paints the vivid portrait of a nation on the verge of a new era—and a girl caught between her past and the ever-expanding present.

Suzy casts aside her recent Vassar degree, following her beloved older sister into the borderless adventures of working as a stewardess for Grand Pacific Airlines.  Suzy immerses herself into Southern California culture, meeting the surfers who populate the beaches and the musicians who play in the smoke filled clubs.  There is a dark side to this sun-soaked town and Suzy is soon drawn into a drug-trafficking scheme.  Between the years of 1961 and 1973, there were over 160 planes hijacked over U.S. airspace, and Suzy is forced to confront those who dominated the headlines and terrorized the skies. Smuggling cocaine in her (often unchecked) luggage is a lucrative side business; thrilling and terrifying, heightened even more so by the skyjacking epidemic of the day. That will all change on one fateful evening, where everything Suzy has come to know and love, goes up in smoke.

For readers of Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers, Fly Me is an engaging exploration of being young, navigating expectations and learning to live with your mistakes. Fly Me is an unforgettable novel about family, a young woman on the edge, about drugs and rock ’n’ roll, and the increasingly thin line between freedom and free fall.

Daniel Riley is a Senior Editor at GQ magazine. He grew up in Manhattan Beach, California, and lives in New York City. Fly Me is his first novel.

The Last Kid Left (MCD/Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

When a scandalous small-town crime goes viral, a teen girl takes center stage in the story of a 21st century Puritan witch-hunt.

After a double-murder kicks off a scandal in a New England beach town, a young woman struggles to create a life for herself and escape the lurid interest of a tight-knit community. No doubt one might sense echoes of The Scarlet Letter, one of Baldwin’s favorite works, in The Last Kid on the Left, his eagerly anticipated new novel. Loosely inspired by a true crime in 1930’s New England so shocking that Life magazine devoted an entire spread to the case, Baldwin sets his explosive, searching novel in the present day of Tumblr and sexting. People are haunted equally by the past and the present as the precarious lives of two teens, a small town sheriff, a retired big-city police officer and an aspiring young journalist desperate to make the pages of the New Yorker, all collide in a media firestorm that threatens to swallow them whole.

Rosecrans Baldwin is the author of Paris, I Love You but You're Bringing Me Down and a debut novel, You Lost Me There. His essays and articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including GQ, the New York Times, and the Guardian. He lives in Los Angeles. 

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ANNE-CHRISTINE D’ADESKY DISCUSSES HER BOOK THE POX LOVER WITH COUNCILMEMBER LINDSEY HORVATH

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

The Pox Lover: An Activist's Decade in New York and Paris (University of Wisconsin Press)
www.thepoxlover.com

The Pox Lover is a personal history of the turbulent 1990s in New York City and Paris by a pioneering American AIDS journalist, lesbian activist, and daughter of French-Haitian elites. In an account that is by turns searing, hectic, and funny, Anne-christine d'Adesky remembers "the poxed generation" of AIDS—their lives, their battles, and their determination to find love and make art in the heartbreaking years before lifesaving protease drugs arrived.

D'Adesky takes us through a fast-changing East Village: squatter protests and civil disobedience lead to all-night drag and art-dance parties, the fun-loving Lesbian Avengers organize dyke marches, and the protest group ACT UP stages public funerals. Traveling as a journalist to Paris, an insomniac d'Adesky trolls the Seine, encountering waves of exiles fleeing violence in the Balkans, Haiti, and Rwanda. As the last of the French Nazis stand trial and the new National Front rises in the polls, d'Adesky digs into her aristocratic family's roots in Vichy France and colonial Haiti. This is a testament with a message for every generation: grab at life and love, connect with others, fight for justice, keep despair at bay, and remember.

Praise for The Pox Lover 

“Reminiscent of the luscious lesbian literature of the Parisian past, but propelled into the era of AIDS, ACT UP, and the Lesbian Avengers. D'Adesky's memoir also reveals her family's role in French colonialism, raising compelling questions about privilege, survival, homophobia, and dislocation.”—Sarah Schulman, author of The Cosmopolitans

“A haunting contribution to the record of the AIDS era.”—Laura Flanders, author of Bushwomen: Tales of a Cynical Species

“A necessary book. We need such a chronicle.”—Felice Picano, author of Like People in History

“In a voice both powerful and cool, The Pox Lover takes on a sprawling personal history, deeply aware throughout that it is the politics of anyone's day—and how we respond to it—that shapes a life. Never far from the mad joy of writing, loving, and being alive, even as it investigates our horribly mundane capacity for horror, this book is a masterpiece.”—Michelle Tea, author of Black Wave

Anne-christine d'Adesky is an investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker who reported on the global AIDS epidemic for New York NativeOUTThe Nation, and The Village Voice. She received the first Award of Courage from amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research. She was an early member of ACT UP and cofounder of the Lesbian Avengers. Her books include Beyond Shock: Charting the Landscape of Sexual Violence in Post-Quake Haiti, Moving Mountains: The Race to Treat Global AIDS, and a novel set in post-Duvalier Haiti, Under the Bone.

Councilmember Lindsey P. Horvath was elected to the West Hollywood City Council on March 3, 2015. She previously served as a Councilmember for two years from 2009-2011. Councilmember Horvath has a long history of civic and social justice advocacy. She has spearheaded policies to make West Hollywood an “Age-Friendly Community” to better serve residents of all ages. She also champions LGBTQ rights, and has led initiatives to denounce discriminatory legislation against LGBTQ individuals. Councilmember Horvath is also known for her leadership on women’s issues and served as a Global Coordinator for One Billion Rising, a global campaign to end violence against women and girls. Additionally, Councilmember Horvath has worked on a range of transportation and mobility issues. Most recently, she engaged in community advocacy to promote light rail and subway service to West Hollywood and is committed to making West Hollywood both pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly. In addition to her service as an elected official, Councilmember Horvath works as an entertainment advertising executive, and has created award-winning campaigns for both movies and television.

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ELIZABETH CRANE READS FROM HER NEW NOVEL TURF

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

Turf (Counterpoint Press)

Blazing through states, cities, towns, continents, Crane fearlessly pivots from micro to macro, humor to tragedy, past to present, mixing an off-kilter sensibility with a heartbreaking reality, guiding us into the fringed and often fantastical lives of her characters. And that has never been truer than in her new collection, Turf.

The end of the world as seen through a young couple in Brooklyn, who find a baby in a bucket on their front step; a group of geniuses who meet every Wednesday, able to unlock all the secrets of the universe except for the unknowable mystery of love; a woman and her dog walker whose friendship is uprooted by an incident at the park; these are dark, intriguing vistas explored in Crane’s glowing collection. For as places change, and people come and go, these stories in Turf remind us that it is the unchanging nature of the human heart that connects us all.

Praise for Elizabeth Crane:

"The novel flows smoothly, and readers game for offbeat narrative approaches will be well rewarded . . . So much like the relationship they’re borne of, Crane’s deeply realized mother-daughter inventions are therapeutic and ruthless, heartfelt and crushing. A lovely exercise in the wild, soothing wonders of imagination.” —Booklist, Starred Review 

“Poignant and hilarious . . . Crane writes about the relationship between a deceased mother and her daughter as they tell each other’s stories to understand each other.” —Los Angeles Times

“Imagine sitting at a leisurely dinner with two intelligent women, a mother and daughter . . . The format may be experimental, but the emotions the book will stir in readers are moving and heartbreakingly familiar.” —Library Journal

“I cannot remember the last time I simultaneously cried and laughed as hard as I did while reading Elizabeth Crane’s glorious, tender knockout of a novel, The History of Great Things. Wait, yes I can. It was the last time I spoke to my mom about life.” —Amber Tamblyn, author of Dark Sparkler

“A poignant dual narrative . . . Alternating between laugh-out-loud humor and heart-rending melancholy, Crane gives us a mother and daughter who never quite grasp each other’s life stories, but who find truth through unconditional love.” —Bookpage

“Ultimately, The History of Great Things is a story of perception, one well worth reading. It serves as a reminder that what truly matters to each of us is not what actually happens, but how we remember it.”  —The Rumpus 

“An important work, fearless in both structure and vision, with Crane’s razor-edge fusion of intelligence, humor, and emotion informing every chapter. Get ready, world: this one’s going to be huge.” —Jamie Quatro, author of I Want to Show You More 

“Like everything Elizabeth Crane writes, The History of Great Things is wonderful fun to read—smart, insightful, and witty—but it will break your heart, too. It stares down the poignant question so many daughters want to ask: How well did my mother really know me?” —Pamela Erens, author of Eleven Hours and The Virgins

“The Copelands would feel right at home in a Noah Baumbach movie . . . Our narrator is an omniscient ‘We’ who reports the goings-on of the family with the breathless glee of an incurable gossip.”—Entertainment Weekly

“Its style is literary, with an edge: The point of view is wicked, the characters prickly, the language not quite quotable here. I can’t wait to read past the first chapter.”—Los Angeles Times

“Like any good story writer, she had me in the first two paragraphs . . . A treat to read. The characters are crisp and enjoyable; the narrator is smart and witty.”—Iowa Press-Citizen

“This is an irresistible and winsome read. A truly astute tale of love neglected and reclaimed, family resiliency, spiritual inquiries, and personal metamorphoses.” —Booklist, Starred Review

 “Crane delivers a unique and dizzying tale that delves into the emotional life of a family teetering on the brink of everything . . . The beauty in Crane’s novel is her sweep from acid commentary to heartfelt portrayal of real-life loves and losses.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Crane’s novel is filled with deliciously idiosyncratic characters, humorous and distinct narration, and a whole lot of personality. Each character’s emotional growth is just enough to satisfy, without being overbearing . . . Crane’s summer novel has undeniable heart.” —Publishers Weekly

“At last a novel from Elizabeth Crane! With her expert humorist’s eye for detail, she gives us a playful, passionate story of longing, heartbreak, and of the gargantuan human will. You won’t be able to stop reading.” —Deb Olin Unferth, author of Revolution

“Not since The Royal Tenenbaums have I loved a family so much. The Copelands of We Only Know So Much are wonderfully eccentric, hilariously not self-aware and strangely adorable. They seemed so real, I felt like I was reading my own family story.” —Jessica Anya Blau, author of The Summer of Naked Swim Parties and Drinking Closer to Home

“This is the kind of book that inspires a person to see the beauty in the ordinary, to stop concentrating on others’ failings long enough to see their spark and maybe rediscover his or her own.”—Susan Henderson, author of Up from the Blue

“A beautiful, warmhearted, ferociously honest debut that will pull you in with its chorus of true voices and catch you off guard with its playful, restless edginess.” —Patrick Somerville, author of The Cradle and This Bright River

Elizabeth Crane is the author of the novels The History of Great Things and We Only Know So Much and three collections of short stories. Her stories have been featured on NPR’s Selected Shorts. She is a recipient of the Chicago Public Library 21st Century Award, and her work has been adapted for the stage by Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company. She currently lives in Newburgh, New York

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RAFE BARTHOLOMEW DISCUSSES HIS MEMOIR TWO AND TWO

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

Two and Two (Little, Brown and Company)

McSorley’s Old Ale House is not just a bar—it’s a home to all walks of life that has stood the test of time. For over 160 years, since 1854, the saloon has been a safe haven for regulars and tourists, workingmen and businessmen, writers and artists, old-timers and barely legal college drinkers. It has witnessed the Civil War, two world wars, the Great Depression, Prohibition, the September 11th attacks, Hurricane Sandy.  It was even the subject of a Supreme Court decision—famously a men only pub, the bar finally allowed access for women in 1970 after the Court’s decision!

In Two and Two, Rafe chronicles his life growing up at McSorley’s—a place where tradition is not just implemented for nostalgia’s sake, but is a vital component of the lifeblood. McSorley’s patrons read like a Who’s Who of 20th century icons, including Babe Ruth, Teddy Roosevelt and John Lennon.  Today, you might spot Mick Jagger, Matt Damon, Kevin Spacey or even Leo DiCaprio there. Two ale pours, sawdust-strewn hardwood floors, and the company of good folks are always to be expected when one crosses the threshold of McSorley’s—and these were the things that Rafe came to look forward to when he was just seven years old.

Bestselling author James McBride (a long-time patron of McSorley’s) who praised “wonderful, young writer Rafe Bartholomew’s forthcoming memoir” in the New York Times Book Review’s Year in Reading  said, “Many a day I have sat in McSorley’s amidst the sawdust and beer and said to myself, ‘You’d have to be a child of this place to make these ghosts speak.’ And that is exactly what Rafe Bartholomew is. His is the voice of ages, the shouts of thousands of fireman, cops, soldiers, drunks, bums, wayfarers, liars, and good souls whose hard luck brought them to McSorley’s, and whose good spirit still reign over the place. He hoists this wonderful piece of Americana into the air with all the humor, joy, humility and love that it deserves.” 

Rafe’s father Bart, a poet and bartender extraordinaire, strove to be a better man than his own abusive father and that he did. They also went through losing Rafe’s mom to cancer together.   Rafe was always protected and loved and knew that the pub was a natural extension of his home. The pub also became his library—a history lesson on Irish immigration as he inspected the photographs hanging from the walls, an anthropological study on the interactions between thirsty patrons and a gruff wait staff and an etiquette course in the gift of gab. The walls of the pub are living history—with memorabilia dating back to the turn of the century.

In Two and Two, Rafe expertly pours over his and his father’s legacy in one of the last vestiges of a world that is quickly vanishing—that of old New York.  As to why people still flock to McSorley’s after all these years, Bart has the answer: “People can buy a mug of ale for cheap all over the city. They come to McSorley’s because it still feels real.”  

Praise for Two and Two 

“There is no bar in New York City—perhaps even all of America—with as much history as McSorley's Old Ale House which opened on East 7th Street in 1854. It was a campaign stop for Abraham Lincoln, a gathering spot for Boss Tweed and his Tammany Hall cronies, and a hangout for decades of artists, poets, and musicians. As a child, Bartholomew would spend magical weekend mornings at the bar with his father, playing with the mouser cat in the basement, eating hamburgers in the kitchen, and doing odd jobs. Bart never wanted to see his son behind the bar; he was a working-class kid from Ohio who'd nearly been killed by his drunk of a father and a long-suffering aspiring writer who'd never seen his literary dreams actualized. The author expertly weaves together entertaining stories from his nights behind the bar (note: never work at an Irish pub on St. Paddy’s Day) with more poignant moments between father and son. Bartholomew does both his father and McSorley’s proud with this touching, redolent memoir.”—Kirkus Reviews

“[A] big-hearted memoir of a lifelong romance with New York City’s oldest saloon….Bartholomew chronicles this history and demonstrates how a crude, unforgiving, and extremely macho camaraderie sustained his family through suffering and loss….His description of his mother’s harrowing death from cancer jarringly shifts the register and introduces pathos and intensity that infuse the following pages. Bartholomew never ignores the darkness inherent in public drunkenness and jobs without health care or pensions, so his portrayal of the rough humor and blue-collar warmth feels completely earned.”—Publishers Weekly

“I gobbled up a galley of the wonderful young writer Rafe Bartholomew’s forthcoming 2017 memoir, Two and Two. It’s about McSorley’s, New York’s oldest saloon. I’ve tipped many a glass at that joint, hoping some of the literary magic of the great writers who once got oiled up there would rub off. It hasn’t.”—James McBride, New York Times Book Review’s “The Year in Reading”

Rafe Bartholomew is the author of Pacific Rims. His writing has appeared in GrantlandSlateThe New York Times, the Chicago ReaderDeadspin and other leading online and print publications. His stories have twice been honored in the Best American Sports Writing series. 

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JESS ARNDT DISCUSSES HER NEW SHORT STORY COLLECTION LARGE ANIMALS, WITH MAGGIE NELSON

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

Large Animals (Catapult)

Jess Arndt's striking debut collection confronts what it means to have a body. Boldly straddling the line between the imagined and the real, the masculine and the feminine, the knowable and the impossible, these twelve stories are an exhilarating and profoundly original expression of voice. In "Jeff," Lily Tomlin confuses Jess for Jeff, instigating a dark and hilarious identity crisis. In "Together," a couple battles a mysterious STD that slowly undoes their relationship, while outside a ferocious weed colonizes their urban garden. And in "Contrails," a character on the precipice of a seismic change goes on a tour of past lovers, confronting their own reluctance to move on.  Arndt's subjects are canny observers even while they remain dangerously blind to their own truest impulses. Often unnamed, these narrators challenge the limits of language--collectively, their voices create a transgressive new formal space that makes room for the queer, the nonconforming, the undefined. And yet, while they crave connection, love, and understanding, they are constantly at risk of destroying themselves. Large Animals pitches toward the heart, pushing at all our most tender parts--our sex organs, our geography, our words, and the tendons and nerves of our culture.

Praise for Large Animals
"Reading Arndt is like walking toward a shimmering desert mirage and being met with a cloud of acid instead of an oasis of cool water. . . . A deeply transgressive, riveting shot out of the gate. Arndt is one to watch."--Kirkus Reviews 

"Arndt's short stories are delicious flights of fancy, or obsession, or fertile curiosity--or, more accurately, some beguiling combination of all three...This is a playful and provocative collection, full of sly, deft turns of phrase and striking imagery."--Publishers Weekly

"Arndt tells stories that resemble handfuls of ribbons--vibrant, overlapping, tangled, seemingly more middles than beginnings and endings. . . . Arndt's keen, wild stories are truly original, and readers will hope for more."--Booklist

Jess Arndt received her MFA at the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College, and was a 2013 Graywolf SLS Fellow and 2010 Fiction Fellow at the New York Foundation of the Arts. Her writing has appeared in Fence, Bomb, Aufgabe, Parkett, and Night Papers, and in her manifesto for the Knife's Shaking the Habitual world tour. She is a co-founder of New Herring Press, dedicated to publishing prose and polemics. She lives and works in Los Angeles.

Maggie Nelson ​is ​the author of nine books of poetry and prose​, many of which have become cult classics which defy classification​. Her nonfiction titles include the National Book Critics Circle Award winner and New York Timesbestseller The Argonauts (2015), The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning (2011; a New York Times Notable Book of the Year), Bluets (2009; named by Bookforum as one of the top 10 best books of the past 20 years), The Red Parts​: Autobiography of a Trial​ (​​2007,​ reissued ​in​ 2016), and Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions (2007). Her poetry titles include Something Bright, Then Holes (2007) and Jane: A Murder (2005; finalist for the PEN/ Martha Albrand Art of the Memoir). She has also been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in Nonfiction, an NEA in Poetry, an Innovative Literature Fellowship from Creative Capital, and an Arts Writers Fellowship from the Andy Warhol Foundation. She holds a PhD in English Literature from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and has taught literature, writing, art, criticism and theory at the New School, Pratt Institute, Wesleyan ​University, and CalArts. In 2016 she was awarded a MacArthur “genius” Fellowship. She lives in Los Angeles.

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UC IRVINE MFA STUDENTS READ FROM THEIR WORK

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

Please join us as students from the MFA Program at UC Irvine read from their work. 

Readers include: 

Jack Foraker is from Davis, California. 

Corinna Rosendahl is most recently from Seattle and Portland and Corvallis.

William Hawkins grew up in Louisiana. He is a third year in fiction in the MFA program at UC Irvine.

Megan Grant grew up in Reedley, California. She went on to get her BA in Literature and Creative Writing and a minor in Jewish Studies at Cal State Long Beach.  She enjoys writing, sarcasm, pineapple, and occasionally, drawing ninja turtles on the sidewalk.

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TOMMY PICO READS FROM HIS NEW BOOK OF POETRY NATURE POEM, TOGETHER WITH MELISSA BRODER

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

 

Nature Poem (Tin House Books)

Nature Poem follows Teebs―a young, queer, American Indian (or NDN) poet―who can’t bring himself to write a nature poem. For the reservation-born, urban-dwelling hipster, the exercise feels stereotypical, reductive, and boring. He hates nature. He prefers city lights to the night sky. He’d slap a tree across the face. He’d rather write a mountain of hashtag punchlines about death and give head in a pizza-parlor bathroom; he’d rather write odes to Aretha Franklin and Hole. While he’s adamant―bratty, even―about his distaste for the word “natural,” over the course of the book we see him confronting the assimilationist, historical, colonial-white ideas that collude NDN people with nature. The closer his people were identified with the “natural world,” he figures, the easier it was to mow them down like the underbrush. But Teebs gradually learns how to interpret constellations through his own lens, along with human nature, sexuality, language, music, and Twitter. Even while he reckons with manifest destiny and genocide and centuries of disenfranchisement, he learns how to have faith in his own voice.

Praise for Nature Poem

“I love this work. Unpredictable & sweet & strong...” —Eileen Myles

“A thrilling punk rock epic that is a tour of all we know and can't admit to. Pico is a poet of canny instincts, his lyric is somehow so casual and so so serious at the same time. He is determined to blow your mind apart, and . . . you should let him.”—Alexander Chee

*A Most Anticipated Book of 2017 at Publishers Weekly, Buzzfeed, and more.*

Tommy "Teebs" Pico is the author of Nature Poem (Tin House Books), IRL(Birds LLC), and the zine series Hey, Teebs. He was a Queer/Art/Mentors inaugural fellow, 2013 Lambda Literary fellow in poetry, and a 2016 Tin House summer poetry scholar. Originally from the Viejas Indian reservation of the Kumeyaay nation, he now lives in Brooklyn where he co-curates the reading series Poets With Attitude (PWA) with Morgan Parker, co-hosts the podcast Food 4 Thot, and is a contributing editor at Literary Hub. 

Melissa Broder is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Last Sext (Tin House Books). She is also the author of the essay collection So Sad Today (Grand Central). Her poems have appeared in Poetry, the Iowa Review, Tin House, Guernica, Fence, the Missouri Review, and the Awl among others. Broder lives in Venice, California.

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GRAHAM CHAFFEE DISCUSSES HIS GRAPHIC NOVEL TO HAVE AND TO HOLD WITH SAMMY HARKHAM

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on August 28th, 2017

To Have and to Hold (Fantagraphics Books)

Couched in the traditional trappings of a noir heist thriller, Graham Chaffee’s To Have and To Hold is a hard-boiled disquisition on the darker regions of married life and the American Dream. Set in October 1962, while the world holds its collective breath awaiting the possibly apocalyptic climax of the unfolding Cuban Missile Crisis, the banality of everyday life goes on, as Lonnie and Kate Ross confront their own domestic cold war. As Kate, frustrated and disillusioned, looks outside her marriage for satisfaction, Lonnie’s justifiable suspicions of his wife’s infidelity lead him down a deadly road of increasing paranoia and violence as he seeks to reclaim what he’s lost. Possession, jealousy, lust, and betrayal — the classic ingredients for a rocky marriage in an America on the verge of nuclear apocalypse. Masterfully paced and drawn in Chaffee’s fluid, inky brushstrokes, To Have and To Hold captures the pulpy, nocturnal atmosphere of classic noir.

Praise for Graham Chaffee:

"The world does not have nearly enough graphic novels told from the perspective of adorable dogs. Let alone graphic novels that have a good chance of making you feel delighted on one page, then maybe like you might cry a little bit on the next page. Good Dog does those things, and also, did I mention it’s told from the perspective of an adorable dog? Seriously, the dog is so great! I would adopt him in a second and we would do everything together." – Erik Henriksen, WiredThe Best Comic Books of 2013

Graham Chaffee is a professional tattooist and comics artist. His previous books are The Big Wheels (1993), The Most Important Thing & Other Stories (1995), and Good Dog (2013). He lives and works in Los Angeles

Sammy Harkham is an American cartoonist and editor, born in Los Angeles in 1980. He began making his own comics and created the zine Kramers Ergot, which has become one of the most influential comics anthologies published today. He is associated with the bookstore Family and the auteur movie house Cinefamily in Los Angeles.

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KELLY LYTLE HERNANDEZ DISCUSSES HER BOOK CITY OF INMATES

Posted in , literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books by skylightbooks on August 28th, 2017

City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles, 1771-1965 (University of North Carolina Press)

Los Angeles incarcerates more people than any other city in the United States, which imprisons more people than any other nation on Earth. This book explains how the City of Angels became the capital city of the world's leading incarcerator. Marshaling more than two centuries of evidence, historian Kelly Lytle Hernandez unmasks how histories of native elimination, immigrant exclusion, and black disappearance drove the rise of incarceration in Los Angeles. In this telling, which spans from the Spanish colonial era to the outbreak of the 1965 Watts Rebellion, Hernandez documents the persistent historical bond between the racial fantasies of conquest, namely its settler colonial form, and the eliminatory capacities of incarceration. 

But City of Inmates is also a chronicle of resilience and rebellion, documenting how targeted peoples and communities have always fought back. They busted out of jail, forced Supreme Court rulings, advanced revolution across bars and borders, and, as in the summer of 1965, set fire to the belly of the city. With these acts those who fought the rise of incarceration in Los Angeles altered the course of history in the city, the borderlands, and beyond. This book recounts how the dynamics of conquest met deep reservoirs of rebellion as Los Angeles became the City of Inmates, the nation's carceral core. It is a story that is far from over. 

Praise for City of Inmates

"In this compelling and comprehensive history of incarceration in Los Angeles, Hernandez demonstrates how authorities whether Spanish, Mexican, or American have long used imprisonment as a tool to control labor and immigration. Covering nearly two centuries of incarceration, Hernandez masterfully synthesizes the history of immigration and deportation, the history of crime and punishment, and the history of settler colonialism."--Margaret Jacobs, author of White Mother to a Dark Race: Settler Colonialism, Maternalism, and the Removal of Indigenous Children in the American West and Australia, 1880-1940 

"Using settler colonialism as an analytical touchstone, City of Inmates extends arguments about mass incarceration's antiblack violence while challenging its commonly asserted origins in the Deep South or the northeastern United States. Excavating the deep histories of punishment in Los Angeles, Hernandez significantly broadens our understanding of mass incarceration's intersections with immigrant detention and colonial dispossession. Vast in scope and intimate in detail, this book is timely and necessary."--Ethan Blue, author of Doing Time in the Depression 

City of Inmates is a pathbreaking work that not only considers together the histories of the regimes of domestic incarceration and immigration detention, the major mechanisms that plague the condition of African Americans and Latino/as in our time. It also incorporates histories of incarceration and removal of Native Americans, Chinese, and poor whites as modes of 'elimination' by white settler colonialism. City of Inmates is a bold work that will surprise and provoke.--Mae Ngai, author of Impossible Subjects 

Kelly Lytle Hernandez's City of Inmates is a remarkable book. No historian has ever told California's history with the breadth and depth of its enduring significance quite like this. Since the Spanish colonial period every kind of American--from Native Americans to Mexican and Chinese Americans, to landless whites and African Americans--has passed through California's jailhouse doors with profound implications for the shape of our nation today. No telling or teaching of the past is complete without reckoning with these supremely urgent stories of our carceral history.--Khalil Gibran Muhammad, author of The Condemnation of Blackness 

Kelly Lytle Hernandez is associate professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles

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PETER ROCK DISCUSSES HIS NEW BOOK SPELLS

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

Spells (Counterpoint Press)

Acclaimed author Peter Rock’s interest in using images for storytelling began while working as a security guard in an art museum. Twenty years later, reminded of the stories he created from the photographs and images he saw on the job, he began to envision a similar project—a project for which he received a Guggenheim scholarship, and which eventually became Spells: A Novel Within Photographs.

First, he asked five photographers he admired to send him images. Then, he used those images as a foundation for his writing—a ship in a lit window gives hope to a dark night, a pair of shadow hands fumble to make a duck or a dog. From a collection of diverse images Rock builds a single narrative that effortlessly weaves between the specific and the universal, dream and reality, prose and poetry.

As he explains: “The images came first. One way to think of it is that the stories herein, and the larger story they become, were already embedded in the photographs. My attention and intuition acted as a kind of excavation that brought them to the surface, into words.”

The texts range from narrative to prose poem, from folktale to rant to reverie to an essay written by a fourth grader. The overarching story follows three friends who have recently graduated from high school; it explores their relationships and how things change when they become entangled with an elderly widower who claims to have dreamt of one of them. The ensuing drama explores the relationship between dreams and waking life, between the head and the heart, between shadows and their bodies, between the living and the dead.

Peter Rock was born and raised in Salt Lake City. His most recent novel is Klickitat (Abrams 2016). He is also the author of six other novels, includingThe Shelter Cycle (2013) and My Abandonment (2009), as well as a collection of stories, The Unsettling (2006). The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, an Alex Award and others, he currently resides in Portland, Oregon, where he is a Professor at Reed College. His novel-within-photographs, Spells, was shown at Blue Sky Gallery in 2015 and is currently traveling around Oregon.

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