- Eve Hill
The literary life of Los Angeles is thriving, and a free celebration is afoot! On October 21st, 2015, LitCrawl L.A. returns to North Hollywood with a walkable menu of literary offerings. Feed both your literary and literal appetite as over 200 Los Angeles writers descend upon NoHo’s assorted coffee shops and restaurants to read from their latest works. Start your personal literary lovefest now by curling up with a sampling of the authors described below.
Shades And Shadows
Shades and Shadows is a non-profit organization that supports writers of speculative fiction, dark fantasy, horror and noir.
In the graphic novel Still Life, author Derek Kirk Kim traps his main character in a parallel universe and puts him on display in an alien zoo. Through honest dialogue and arresting illustrations that catch the characters in peak expression, we sense young Andy’s anguish as his every move and bodily function is exposed, open-dollhouse style, for the alien museum patrons. Technological development is worshipped and art has been outlawed, echoing the fears of our own reality. The aliens are born with ‘the feed’ streaming directly into their brains, keeping them informed and up to date at all times. ‘You can tune it out, but you can never turn it off completely.’
Music and improvisation are incorporated into the reading events at Roar Shack, where you can find an eclectic blend of essayists, poets, and writers of ‘just about anything else that leaves its own blood on the page.’
Roar Shack founder David Rocklin’s debut novel, The Luminist, revels in the historical change photography brought to our perception of time. Based on the real story of a woman who bucked the standards of the 19th century to experiment with the dangerous new science, Rocklin’s character has an obsession with ‘arresting time,’ magnified when one of her twins dies shortly after birth. Painters afraid of the new medium called the results mere ‘phantoms on glass, ‘but those whose pictures were taken knew that photographs ‘captured some sort of otherness, from the secret place in the world where such things hid.’
Rocklin will host a stellar lineup of fellow Roar Shack writers, including Joe Loya, whose memoir, The Man Who Outgrew His Prison Cell, exposes the brutal and moving life of a former bank robber. Born to teen parents, Loya lost his mother to kidney disease when he was nine. He suffered at the hands of his violent, alcoholic father until resorting to violence himself to get away.
The theme for Roar Shack’s LitCrawl L.A. presentation is ‘Do/Don’t Tell’. Writers Jillian Lauren, Antonia Crane, J Ryan Stradal, Melissa Chadburn, and Joe Loya ‘will hit you with what they don’t want anyone to know.’
Literature For Life
Literature for Life is a journal for local writers that also offers a curriculum component. Aligning L.A.’s literary offerings with state standards allows the works to be taught in middle and high school classrooms. Stories of contemporary Los Angeles life ‘create a sense of immediacy’ and get students engaged.
8th graders may read Kicks, the first novel by White Oleander and Paint it Black author Janet Fitch, about a couple of Los Angeles girls with very different upbringings. Carla has been cut loose from her parents and is reckless. Laurie is tame and envious, but begins taking risks under Carla’s influence.
An option for 10th graders is Keenan Norris’ Friday. A master of urban fiction, Norris is also the editor of Street Lit, a compilation of urban fiction from the 1950s to present day that illuminates this powerful literary genre.
In author Jervey Tervalon’s latest novel, Monster’s Chef, Monster ‘used to be a black man.’ He’s a reclusive, mega-super star with similarities to Michael Jackson, but Monster also cultivates a dangerous persona. His Lair has a moat filled with toothy fish and ‘blond children running around like chickens.’ His skinny, charismatic image appears as a 3D projection at his own birthday party. ‘Is he evolution, technology, or science fiction?’ When a once celebrated restauranteur claws his way back from a heroin addiction and lands a job as Monster’s personal chef, he is drawn into the ‘outrageously wrong’ lifestyle of the manipulative celebrity, and struggles to hang on to the desperate hope that this job is not just another step on his path to self-destruction.
Keeping it local at LitCrawl L.A., Literature for Life will present ‘Literary Locavore Los Angeles: L.A. Streets by L.A. Writers,’ with readings by Rebecca Gonzales, Erin Aubry Kaplan, Cheryl Klein, Susan Straight, Daniel Voll, Janet Fitch, Keenan Norris, and Jervey Tervalon.
The New Short Fiction Series
Author A.R. Taylor is an English professor, stand-up comedian, Emmy award winner and playwright. In her 2013 novel, Sex, Rain and Cold Fusion, protagonist David Oster is sick of Los Angeles, so he takes a job in the ‘wet dream of scenery and silence,’ Washington State. An underwater physicist, Oster believes the wave patterns that bring deep water back to the surface hold the key to an undiscovered force in the universe. It’s just that Oster has no clue about the forces rising to the surface within himself.
At Lit Crawl L.A., The New Short Fiction Series will focus on stories of water and the drought’s impact on L.A. life. ‘Water, Water, Anywhere???’ will feature Henry Hoke, Chris Iovenko, Bronwyn Mauldin, Barbara Keegan, Holger Moncada Jr., A.R. Taylor, and LitCrawl L.A. executive director, Sally Shore.
At The Rumpus, ‘literature is community.’ The website posts short stories, essays, personal confessions, blogs and interviews with authors from newcomers to icons. The comics section may offer up ’52 Super Dull Hikes for Surly Teens,’ or a poem could ‘explore the ordinary until it looks wild and new.’ Participate in one of the many book clubs, or receive regular deliveries of ‘overly personal’ emails from author, adventurer and Rumpus founder Stephen Elliott. Elliot has published novels of politically inspired fiction, written for the Huffington Post, Spin Magazine, and directed the 2012 film, About Cherry, with James Franco and Dev Patel.
Ryan Gattis’ new novel, All Involved, takes place over the six cataclysmic days of the 1992 L.A. Riots. It’s a graphic, unflinching view of a Los Angeles temporarily cut off from police protection. Rival gangs settle scores while ‘every single cop in the city is somewhere else.’ The narrators of All Involved change with the chapters, from a likable but doomed young man trying to scrape by working in a taco truck, to his tough sister who avenges his death, to the overworked and overwrought nurses and firefighters dealing with the results of unchecked mayhem. All Involved is a powerful portrait of what Gattis calls the ‘greatest and most misunderstood city on earth.’
Jerry Stahl was one of the first writers to post a blog on The Rumpus, and he continues to contribute the searingly insightful content that was brought to national attention when his confessional, Permanent Midnight, was made into a movie. As an addict in his 30s, Stahl worried about running out of drugs. Now sober, he worries about running out of ‘awareness.’ His latest book, Old Guy Dad, is a hilariously honest look at baby-raising in your 60s.
Natashia Deón, Anna March, Stephen Elliott, Ryan Gattis, and Jerry Stahl will tell stories about growing up and embracing otherness as part of The Rumpus’ presentation, ‘Growth Spurt: Stories of Radical Becoming.’
Final assignments matching authors to venues have not yet been made, so interested attendees are advised to visit LitCrawl L.A.’s website closer to the October 21st event date for details.
By Eve Hill
Eve Hill’s work has appeared on network television, in print, and online. Eve was born and raised in San Francisco, graduated USC with a degree in Film History, and continues to appreciate the local history, food and cultural life of both Northern and Southern California. You may also find her walking the family dog, reading ‘lit fic’, watching sports, or faking her way through a sentimental tune on the piano.