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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wednesday, June 27 Dana Johnson

Tonight on Bibliocracy, 8 PM on KPFK 90.7 FM:  DANA JOHNSON. My guest this week has written a first novel built firmly, evocatively, on characterization and on place, with a character who first charmed readers in a short story collection.  By way of setting it engages the familiar if far-flung geography of Los Angeles from 80th Street to West Covina to Dodger Stadium and the Hollywood Hills.  In Elsewhere, California, Dana Johnson reveals an ordinary childhood as extraordinary, and negotiates the territory of our psycho-political landscape through popular music and education and art and, yes love.   The novel tells the life story so far of a mid-career African American graphic artist through her memories of an ostensibly integrated middle-class childhood and the circumstances, comic and profound, surrounding an opening of a show of her work at a downtown gallery.  We grow up with young Avery, a precocious Black girl whose struggles with well-meaning and clueless whites, more dismal prejudices, outright racism, comic and ironic and sad circumstances which make her the talented if perpetually self-doubting creative person she comes.  Dana Johnson is author of Break Any Woman Down, a short story collection.  She was, it will become quite obvious to readers, raised here in Southern California and knows it well, and now teaches at USC, where she is a professor of English.  This is an important and beautiful book, especially for those looking for meaningful, necessary Southern California fiction with an edge, with warmth, with hope.  Thanks for listening, on the radio or online, and downloadable free for 90 days from the station’s archives.  Scroll down to Bibliocracy to find this episode or check back and find the link on my Facebook page.

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