A map of America as seen through books. L.A.’s own Book Show reaches out to readers. And a couple of literary events that venture beyond the bookstore. Here’s a few literary links for your midweek (and post holiday) slump.
A literary treasure map
Critic-at-large Susan Straight has penned this gorgeous essay for Granta, which comes with an interactive map of “The American Experience in 737 Novels.”
“This is a map of what I read, what changed my life, from the time I was three until yesterday, when I added one more book,” Straight writes, and there it is, at the bottom of the page: a map of the U.S., dotted with books like landmarks. (A big, juicy count of 127 titles hovers over Southern California.) She wanted to create “a map of the literary nation, a beautiful evocation of how we are truly a nation of village and city and prairie and brownstone, of Rockies and bayous and mesas. Novels give to every reader someone else’s home.”
I love the idea of exploring the country through books, while also getting an exhaustive — and yet still very personal — catalog of the fiction that has mattered to a writer. It’s micro and macro on a number of levels, and I’m enjoying zooming in on various regions to discover what books Straight chose to represent them.
Now, who’s up for response piece, a travelogue to each region, reading all 737 books along the way. Road trip anyone?
Book Show’s pay it forward program
In a note posted on its website, Book Show owner Jen Hitchcock beseeched patrons near and far to partake in a pay-it-forward campaign to raise funds for the quirky, carnival-themed independent bookstore in Highland Park, which is struggling financially.
“For every donation received,” writes Hitchcock, “I will apply a red star sticker to the spine of a book or books that match the donation amount. These books will then be available for free for those who need help in purchasing a book. By donating you are helping to make books more accessible to everyone in the community and at the same time helping Book Show to get past a difficult time and keep our doors open.”
In addition to selling hard-to-find indie books and zines, Book Show hosts a number of creative events — like a night “collage and cry” night and potluck-workshop “dinner poems” — and has become a vital space in the Northeast L.A. literary community. Book Show lovers: Pony up. Long live Book Show.
The L.A. chapter of the Sisters in Crime writing group presents its 10th anthology, “LAst Resort,” (you see what they did there?) at Vroman’s 4 p.m. Saturday. Two editors and a whopping 16 authors will converge for “a lively town hall discussion on the inspiration behind each story, and why the City of Angels makes the perfect backdrop for mystery and crime fiction.” Sisters in Crime supports women who write mysteries, and if you read mysteries by women, here’s a chance to support them.
And while bookstore readings are standard fare — comfortable, beloved, sustaining — it’s sometimes nice to switch it up. At 7 p.m. Thursday, downtown art gallery 356 Mission hosts the launch for performance artist Brontez Purnell’s debut novel, “Since I Laid My Burden Down.” Purnell will be in conversation with Bradford Nordeen, guest curator at the Broad museum, and, doubly unusual for a weekday reading, will also screen his pornographic short film, “100 Boyfriends Mixtape.” Can’t make it? There’s another chance to catch Purnell next week, when he headlines this month’s “Hard to Read” on Tuesday at the Standard Hotel in Hollywood.
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