An Unintentional Literary Pilgrimage of Los Angeles

 

I’ve been to Southern California many times, and yet, I’ve never quite seen the Los Angeles that I wanted to. As a book nerd, I’ve always dreamt of doing a book tour, visiting famous literary sites. But Los Angeles County feels unwieldy. However, on this last trip, I lucked out. I stayed in downtown Los Angeles proper, with my friend, Erin Eyesore (check out her post-punk feminist radio show, erineyesore.tumblr.com). While she attended a conference for work, I did some sight-seeing. First on the list, The Last Bookstore which I’ve seen photos of on friends’ Instagram feeds. We were staying just blocks away from this heavenly place. It’s like the Cemetery of Forgotten Books in The Shadow of the Wind by Arturo Perez Reverte—you enter a noir bookstore, a space selling books in another realm, a fictional place that you wish existed—touching things seems unreasonable because they will flitter away in smoke because they exist in another dimension. But the  labyrinth you wander is real and if you go on a slow day, which I did, you find yourself in mazes all alone, which of course, makes things more surreal.

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Roxane Gay’s Hunger Helped Me Recognize My Goth Roots Stem from Something Darker

Hunger, Roxane Gay, Bad Feminist

Roxane Gay‘s latest book, Hunger, opens up with “Every body has a story and a history. Here I offer mine with a memoir of my body and my hunger.” (3). Gay writes of being fat in a world that shames and demeans people for taking up space. And she looks at her body’s history: how did she get where she is? Why does she weigh so much? What happened to create this body? It wasn’t merely eating. It wasn’t just not taking exercise or being weak or lazy. I could not handle some of the physical challenges she’s endured. Hunger is not a self-help book, it’s not a feel-good book, nor is it a change-your-life book. And while it is not any of those things, this book is everything to me. This book is a writer opening up about her past, exposing the very things so many of us don’t talk about, this book made me feel connected to her in a way very few authors do.

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Mira Grant is thoughtful, even when she’s killing her best characters in Feedback, a Newflesh novel

Mira Grant, Seanan McGuire, Newsflesh, Feedback

Mira Grant is a thoughtful writer. Correction, well-established, respected Seanan McGuire is a thoughtful, caring writer. So thoughtful that she created a pseudonym when she started writing a new book series—because it was drastically different from what she had already written—she didn’t want to alienate her fans, confusing fairy-loving (magical creatures) readers who picked up her gory, bloody, virus-laden zombie books.

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T2 Trainspotting—Living With but Not in Your Past

Trainspotting, Porno, Irvine Welsh, Renton, Begbie, Spud, Sickboy

T2 Trainspotting, based on the novel of the same name and the sequel, Glue, was released last week. I was so obscenely excited that I started to question why. Have I truly not grown since I saw the first movie? What does this say about me that I’ve become so invested in some characters from my past?

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Paul Beatty’s Reluctant Hero in The Sellout—Reinstitutes Segregation and Accidentally Acquires a Slave To Save his Hometown

The Sellout, Paul Beatty

 

Paul Beatty’s brilliant satire, The Sellout is about a present-day man who accidentally acquires a slave and loves his former town so much that he physically redefines its town lines and reinstitutes segregation. I bought the book because it sounded like a thought-provoking and challenging satire, one of the cover blurbs, called it “Swiftian satire of the highest order.” I assumed I would appreciate the humor and the authorial voice, but detest the protagonist. But Beatty created an incredibly likable character, one that truly means well but can’t help when strange things happen to him (like having a suicidal man he saved pledge his life as a slave to him). He ends up in the Supreme Court as a result of his trying to improve his community. Continue reading →