Who says L.A. can’t be bookish? (Ok, I say that a lot.) But here to prove me (and you) wrong is next week’s calendar events for cerebral Los Angelenos. On the “books?”: Amiri Baraka, Joan Didion, and Jonathan Lethem, just to name a few.
City of Quartz author Mike Davis is writing a biography of the Los Angeles Times‘ bygone publisher Harrison Gray Otis. Appropriately, the installments will be serialized by the Los Angeles Review of Books.
“Start with the novel’s climax (often the first thing you know about it, its most striking moment) and work backward, asking why-why-why. Then write forward.” Nell Zink at The Lithub on how to become a novelist in 10 easy steps. See also our interview with Zink from last week.
Paris Review editor Lorin Stein was interviewed for Days of Yore. Topics include: the “perverse power” of editing your parents’ work; his rise through the ranks of NYC publishing; and the new story collection, Object Lessons. Elsewhere you can check out his “five favorite short story collections.” And, in case you missed it, be sure to check out our own Bill Morris’s interview with Paris Review deputy editor Sadie Stein (no relation) about the Object Lessons collection as well.
“I became completely obsessed.” At the 92nd Street Y, Rebecca Skloot shares the story behind her bestseller, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, joined by members of the Lacks family and actress Rose Byrne, who plays Skloot in the forthcoming film adaptation of her book. Skloot also discusses how the subject of the book is intimately linked to her own father’s health crisis, which Amy Halloran wrote about in our own pages a few years back.
“Eleven years later, the Atlantic Monthly editor, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, made a similar request to an obscure, retiring poet named Emily Dickinson who had written a letter asking if her verses ‘breathed.’ Her response was much like Melville’s, if typically elliptical: ‘Could you believe me—without? I had no portrait, now, but am small, like the Wren, and my Hair is bold, like the Chestnut Bur—and my eyes, like the Sherry in the Glass, that the Guest leaves—Would this do just as well?'” The age-old problem: how writers deal with publicity.
Jeopardy! champion, Maphead author, and all-around puzzle whiz Ken Jennings has devised a month-long “Great American History Puzzle,” and the grand prize winner will receive a free trip to Washington D.C., as well as a “Secrets of the Smithsonian” tour no doubt reminiscent of touring the back room at the end of the first Indiana Jones movie.