Tonight on Bibliocracy, on KPFK 90.7 FM at 8 PM: TOM LUTZ. My guest is local literary hero Tom Lutz, a friend of readers and writers. His Los Angeles Review of Books has in two years since its online debut not just filled the gap created with the loss of so many regular newspaper book review venues, but established a community of cultural workers well beyond being only an alternative. LARoB is a collective invention of mind and spirit that defines literary life in our region and beyond. As Founding Editor-in-Chief, Lutz brought on board the LA Review of Books website dozens of talented
California writers, offering essential reviews, essays and
interviews. Organized as a non-profit
reader-supported online journal, where critics, journalists, artists,
filmmakers and scholars convene and celebrate the life of the mind, LA Review of Books is committed, as its
mission statement declares “to the intellectual rigor, the incisiveness and the
power of the written word.” Dig it. Tom Lutz is a teacher – at UC Riverside- a critic, and reviewer. He is also the author
of Doing Nothing: A History of Loafers,
Loungers, Slackers, and Bums in ,
Cosmopolitan Vistas: American Regionalism and Literary Value and Crying: A Natural and Cultural History of
Tears. Join me in conversation with the
Founding Editor in Chief of everybody’s favorite literary arts website, the Los Angeles Review of Books, soon to be
a quarterly hard copy magazine in addition to an essential online resource for bibliophiles,
activists, thinkers and creative Angelenos everywhere. Not yet discovered LARoB? Here’s the link, friends: http://lareviewofbooks.org/. Donate, subscribe, share. America
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Tonight on Bibliocracy Radio, on KPFK90.7 FM: JIM GAVIN, on Middle Men. Do you recognize the real deal when you see it? I mean the Real Deal, in caps, or in quotes, or whatever punctuation is required to separate it from The Rest? Friends, home-grown So Cal short story writer Jim Gavin is the R.D., though most everybody already knew that except me, from The New Yorker to my friend novelist Victoria Patterson, who turned me on to his work, and ZYZZYVA editor Oscar Villalon, who raved about Gavin on NPR. So, here I am, a Johnny Come Lately, with my over-eager and justifiably excited upper case of enthusiasm. From
Long Beach to Echo
Gavin charts the stunted emotional growth of his “middle men,” boys and adult
males who struggle with the near-geographical emotional boundaries drawn by
work, school, family. In the
too-perfectly, ominously, hilariously titled “Bewildered Decisions in Times of
Mercantile Terror,” an overachiever with one foot in failure dreams of
spiritual wholeness in her ancestral home even as she negotiates the demise of
her corporate career and tries to take care of a kind of her alter-ego, one in
a series of Gavin’s lost boys named Bobby – the incarnation here of a series of
hapless, feckless, just plain “less” young, old and middle-aged men. Nora works unhappily in sales for a software
company while the childhood family friend, a boy-man, pretends to invent a
miracle product. Gavin’s writing confronts our region with the power of DJ
Waldie, Joan Didion - Nathaneal West without the hyperbole, but with wicked
humor and tenderness, too. This guy is a new favorite, and Middle Men is a must-read bound for a place in our region’s
literary canon. Thanks for listening, on
the radio or online, as a download any time you like from the station archives.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Wednesday night at 8 on KPFK 90.7 FM: ALISA SLAUGHTER. My guest this week has somehow dramatically amplified what should be most obvious and unremarkable about our lives in the Southland – our clumsy sharing and easy noncooperation with animal lives --- and served it up to us in perversely, delightfully proto myth: “varieties of animal story, anthropomorphized morality and crypto-poltical tales,” Alisa Slaughter has herself called this. Cougar goes to a ball game, Raven is foreclosed, Coyote is a downtown street vendor. It’s hard --- by which I mean, easy and fun and rewarding! --- to try and tell where they end and we begin in Slaughter’s accommodating fictional worldview. She is author of the new collection Bad Habitats, winner of USC’s Gold Line Press chapbook collection. Teacher and essayist, and now author of a debut short story collection, Alisa Slaughter has produced an ongoing, evolving if you will, revisionist history of our relations – pun intended - to the creatures and places around us. Bad Habitats is only six stories but with a much larger vision indeed, of a Southern California you will recognize if you look carefully, as she has, where human animal and wild animal residents interact, share and fight for resources, where easy transformation and cooptation and sometimes reluctant empathy are all part of survival across the Southland. Thanks for listening on the radio, online, or as a download free from the KPFK station archives. Friend me on Facebook.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Tonight at 8 PM on KPFK 90.7 FM in
Southern California: GARY AMDAHL.
What a pleasure it is to host in studio at last a writer whose work has
meant so much to me over many years both in terms of his professional artistic struggle
with a weird industry and his success as a devoted craftsman of a kind of prose
that explores ideas and character, place and politics with such attention to
language as to cause readers to stop and reread, sometimes perhaps out loud,
before advancing further to plot and premise.
Gary Amdahl is the author of a first collection called Visigoth, which won the Milkweed
National Fiction Prize. His second book
was two novellas, published together as I
am Death. And now arrives The Intimidator Still Lives in Our Hearts,
a second short and long story collection that is perhaps his most representative,
ambitious and richly complex yet entertaining.
This collection is a good introduction to a writer about whom you should
know and care, and a reward for his many long-time fans. Throughout the stories there is
simultaneously the voice of a dramaturge, sometimes out front, sometimes less
autobiographical, but always familiar --- and a consciousness, of the artist in
whose trust we are affirmed and challenged.
Amdahl’s collection brings together recent stories originally seen in A Public Space, Agni, Massachusetts Review,
Liquake and, yes, Santa Monica Review. Gary Amdahl is one of the smartest, most
talented, most rewarding writers you can read.
Thanks for listening, on the radio or online, and as a free download
from the station’s archives.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Tonight at 8 PM on KPFK 90.7 FM in
California: MONICA WESOLOWSKA. The personal and
ethical challenges of making life and death decisions typically come at the end
- for old people, adults - but in the story told by my guest this week, a
mother is forced to decide when and how to allow her profoundly damaged newborn
to die. With alternately too much to
guide her or, finally, too little, a loving and thoughtful woman – importantly,
a writer - chooses to embrace fully the experience of this decision at every opportunity. My guest this week is Monica Wesolowska, author of
Holding Silvan: A Brief Life. In parts a personal memoir and a layperson’s
guide to the complicated and confusing decision-making that all of us trust
we’ll never have to face, Wesolowska shares with honesty and careful prose the
bitterness, anger, hurt and joy of the short living and long dying of her baby
boy Silvan. There is her alienation from
and then immersion in this process. There
is the theater of weird rules and variables, medical and legal. There is learning the awkward language
required to participate. There is the fear
of losing a marriage, relationships, all in the context of what she calls,
ironically, loving her son to death.
Celebrated with an introduction
by Erica Jong and incredible blurbs from an all-star lineup of writer fans,
long-time writer and teacher Monica
Wesolowska has done, finally, what writers do with the material given them, as
it were, and produced an instant classic on a topic she has turned into art and
insight and elegant, generous, brave prose. Thanks for listening on the radio, online or
as a free download from the KPFK archives.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Wednesday night at 8 on Bibliocracy, KPFK Radio 90.7 FM: JULIA SWEENEY.
Despite never having never met her until today, my guest’s voice is, for me and my family, so very familiar and welcome, from listening over and over again to the CD of her one-woman performance “Letting Go of God,” as well as “familiar” in the sense of her disarmingly funny, intellectually honest take - as in her newest offering - family. Julia Sweeney needs no introduction, except to say that she has by way of this show and her literary production written some excellent work which flirts with popular culture and drama and still shows the skill of a serious, sincere memoirist. She’s written Letting Go of God, In a Family Way and God Said Ha!, and is in town for this weekend’s Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in support of a new collection of essays: If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother. It’s 24 thematically linked short pieces about her own motherhood, about marriage and love and sadness from a writer and all-around engaged observer who is always figuring things out, funnily, wisely. This weekend is a terrific opportunity to hear her talk about and read from her newest work. She appears on Bibliocracy tonight and on the
Times Stage on Saturday, April 20 at 1:20 at the Festival of Books. Come by the KPFK tent (#210), and watch
Bibliocracy Radio and Ian Masters’ “Background Briefing” live on air Sunday
morning, 10-12. Los Angeles
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
On Bibliocracy at 8 PM on 90.7 FM KPFK Radio, VICTORIA PATTERSON. Tonight a special program in an occasional series of performance editions of the show, part of my continuing effort to present and collect work by area Southern California writers of short fiction I admire, on the only place on the radio – KPFK – where you will hear contemporary writing read. So, tonight, reading a complete short story in one sitting, Victoria Patterson. Patterson is author of a remarkable breakthrough collection called Drift and the politically searing and sociologically tragic-comic novel This Vacant Paradise, and an upcoming book, The Peerless Four out in fall 2013. Tonight she reads her short story “Dogs” for you. For more on Victoria Patterson: http://victoriapatterson.com/books.html. Thanks for listening on the radio, or online. Or as a free download from the station’s archives. See you at the LA Times Festival of Books April 20 & 21. Find me at the KPFK tent or the Santa Monica Review booth.