Archives for category: Books

While researching authors I wanted to contact about contributing a poem or story to our upcoming Alice in Wonderland Anthology, I ran across an interesting article at Flavorwire entitled “10 Essential Surrealist Books for Everyone” — featuring a list curated by Shane Jones, author of Light Boxes. I figured I’d contact the living authors and check out their work — some are familiar names, while others were new to me.

Here’s the list (with my notes):

The Hundred Brothers by Donald Antrim (I subsequently found this novel at my favorite used bookstore and am looking forward to reading it.)

The Vet’s Daughter by Barbara Comyns (I really want to read this one — sounds fascinating.)

Nothing by Blake Butler (I recently checked out Blake Butler‘s 2011 novel There is No Year — one of the most original books I’ve come across in a long, long time.)

The Orange Eats Creeps by Grace Krilanovich (I checked out this book from the L.A. Public Library — it features the thinking person’s zombies.)

The Man Suit by Zachary Schomburg (We ran a poem — “Experiment in Invisibility” — from this remarkable collection a few weeks ago.)

The Soft Machine by William S. Burroughs (From the King of Surrealists.)

Wide Eyed by Trinie Dalton (I checked out a library copy and read a few stories — she’s got a voice!)

Zirconia by Chelsey Minnis (We ran an amazing poem — “The Aquamarine” — from this collection a few weeks ago and received a terrific response. Chelsey Minnis has some serious fans out there.)

The Way Through Doors by Jesse Ball (I recently checked out Jesse Ball’s novel Silence Once Begun — fascinating.)

In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan (A perennial favorite from an all-time favorite author.)

Congratulations to fellow blogger Vickie Lester at Beguiling Hollywood on the May 2013 release of her first novel It’s in His Kiss.

BOOK DESCRIPTION (FROM AMAZON): Hollywood. The Dream Factory A camera-ready world of fantasy fulfilled, artifice and bone-deep glamour — or a place of dark reality, depthless closets, failed love, false prophets and untimely death. Anne Brown must find where the truth lies. Truth. Lies. It’s in his kiss. Vickie Lester has written the ultimate Hollywood insider murder-mystery with gasp-worthy plot twists and plenty of delicious, naughty moments. It’s in His Kiss roams from the dark underbelly of Palm Springs to the power canyons of Hollywood. Everyone has a secret: once-wealthy moguls, studio executives with double lives, wry East Coast novelists plunged into intrigue, uneasily blended families and a certain church that likes to keep its movie colony types in check. A must read that you won’t want to put down until its final brilliant conclusion.

Find It’s in His Kiss by Vickie Lester at


One Hundred Frogs: From Renga to Haiku to English

by Hiroaki Sato

BOOK DESCRIPTION:  Poet Ezra Pound described the haiku as “an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time.” It is the haiku’s sense of immediacy and its precision that continue to appeal to poets and poetry lovers today. In One Hundred Frogs, author Hiroaki Sato  discusses the haiku as well as the often ignored renga or linked-verse form, out of which the haiku grew. One Hundred Frogs features many renowned Japanese poets, most notably Matsuo Basho, in the translated poetry that illustrates the text. To reveal the myriad choices open to translators of renga and haiku, the author provides an in-depth analysis of one of Japan’s most famous haiku, Basho’s poem about a frog in a pond, and presents a compilation of over one hundred translations and variations of the poem.

Find One Hundred Frogs by Hiroaki Sato at

Très cool! The esteemed 13e Note Éditions in Paris recently released (in French) LADYLAND, a 496-page anthology of writing by American women, including frequent contributors to Silver Birch Press anthologies — Rene Diedrich, Linda KIng, Tamara Madison, and Joan Jobe Smith. Learn more at Find the book at

Congrats to all the women who contributed to the collection: Lisa Carver, Antonia Crane, Rene Diedrich, Gina Frangello, Kat George, Veronica Ghostwriter, Fiona Helmsley, Dana Johnson, Linda King, Chris Kraus, Lydia Lunch, Tamara Madison, Cris Mazza, Hulga McSwine, Reverend Jen Miller, Cookie Mueller, Sigrid Nunez, BC Petrakos, Joan Jobe Smith, Mende Smith, Sin Soracco, Michelle Tea, Nichelle Tramble, Sabine Walser, Ann Wood.


Mei Mei, Little Sister: Portraits from a Chinese Orphanage 

by Richard Bowen

Introduction by Amy Tan

(144 pages, published by Chronicle Books in 2005)

ABOUT THE BOOK: The Chinese believe an unseen red thread joins those in this life who are destined to connect. For photographer Richard Bowen, that thread led him to China’s state-run welfare institutions, where there are thousands of children, primarily girls, growing up without families to take care of them. Mei Mei presents a poignant glimpse of just a few of these remarkable children. Composed against neutral backgrounds, these portraits capture the girls inner lives, away from their often bleak surroundings. The images show an almost endless range of expressions: small faces filled with longing and hope, joy and sadness, humor and mischief, defiance and despair. Through the camera’s eye, these young children are no longer orphans, but individuals whose personalities are as vital, distinct, and beautiful as any mother’s child. When that unique human being comes into focus, the connection is made and the red thread becomes visible. And once seen, the bond can never be broken. Find Mei Mei: Portraits from a Chinese Orphanage at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR/ PHOTOGRAPHER: Richard Bowen, with his wife and other adoptive parents, founded Half the Sky Foundation, which seeks to enrich the lives of children living in Chinese orphanages. A director, producer, and director of photography in film and television, his credits include Cinderella Moon, In Quiet Night, The Little Rascals, The Wizard of Loneliness, Head Above Water, Article 99, Belizaire the Cajun, Flags of Our Fathers, The Kite Runner, Wyatt Earp, Havana, and Deep Rising. He lives in Berkeley, California with his wife Jenny and two daughters, Maya and Anya.


The prolific A.D. Winans has released several recent books of poetry and prose — and is offering signed copies of his latest works. Don’t miss the chance to get an inscribed copy from this legendary author.

Titles include:

In the Pink: Winan’s first collection of short stories, written during the sexual revolution of the sixties. Signed. Perfect Bound. $15.95, includes shipping.

San Francisco Poems, 174 pages, perfect bound. Signed. Book includes introduction by Beat icon Charles Plymell and a 10,000-word autobiography (including pictures) originally published by Gale Research. $15.95 plus $5 shipping.

This Land Is Not My Land (second edition). Perfect bound. Includes nine new poems. Winner of PEN Josephine Miles Literary Achievement Award. $15, includes shipping. Signed by the author.

For more information, email A.D. Winans at

Visit A.D. Winan‘s fansite at

By Dorianne Laux

What good does it do anyone
to have a drawer full of clean knives,
the tines of tiny pitchforks
gleaming in plastic bins, your face
reflected eight times over
in the oval bowls of spoons?
What does it matter that the bathmat’s
scrubbed free of mold, the door mat
swept clear of leaves, the screen door
picked clean of bees’ wings, wasps’
dumbstruck bodies, the thoraxes
of flies and moths, high corners
broomed of spider webs, flowered
sheets folded and sealed in drawers,
blankets shaken so sleep’s duff and fuzz,
dead skin flakes, lost strands of hair
flicker down on the cut grass?
Who cares if breadcrumbs collect
on the countertop, if photographs
of the ones you love go gray with dust,
if milk jugs pile up, unreturned,
on the back porch near the old dog’s dish
encrusted with puppy chow?
Oh to rub the windows with vinegar,
the trees behind them revealing
their true colors. Oh the bleachy,
waxy, soapy perfume of spring.
Why should the things of this world
shine so? Tell me if you know.

SOURCE: “The Idea of Housework” by Dorianne Laux appears in Sweeping Beauty: Contemporary Women Poets Do Housework, edited byPamela Gemin (University of Iowa Press, 2005). The 212-page collection, which features work by over 80 poets, is available at

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Thankless, mundane, and “never done,”  contemporary women poets are still writing the domestic experience — sometimes resenting its futility and lack of social rewards, sometimes celebrating its sensory delights and immediate gratification, sometimes cherishing the undeniable link it provides to their mothers and grandmothers. In Sweeping Beauty, a number of these poets illustrate how housekeeping’s repetitive motions can free the imagination and release the housekeeper’s muse. For many, housekeeping provides the key to a state of mind approaching meditation, a state of mind also conducive to making poems. The more than eighty contributors toSweeping Beauty embrace this state and confirm that women are pioneers and inventors as well as life-givers and nurturers.


Walkin’ with the Beast is a collection of poetry and prose by Danny Valdez — an author that Dan Fante said, “…will cut into your heart — open your eyes — and put a lump in your throat. This guy’s the real deal.”

The 228-page book features a range of stories and poems that chronicle Valdez’s life as a young man trying to find his way as a human being and writer when faced with a variety of internal and external challenges.

Kudos to Al Berlinski at Sun Dog Press in Northville, Michigan, for bringing out Valdez’s debut collection, which addresses subjects (poverty, relationships, the act of writing, and menial subsistence jobs) associated with authors such as Charles Bukowski and Hubert Selby. Here’s an excerpt from the collection…

A TEN & A TWENTY (Excerpt)
by Danny Valdez

Flat broke.
Eleven bucks to my name.
But I didn’t care,
I was gonna get a pack of smokes
and a burrito anyways.
A guy’s gotta live sometime.

Walking past the dirt lot
behind the gas station,
I spotted a ten-dollar bill
smiling up at me from the dirt and rocks.
I snatched it up
and ran with it held up in the air.
“Woooo hoooo!” I hollered,
running and skipping
all the way to Losbetos.

Walking back,
a bean & cheese in my hand,
smokes rolled up in my shirt sleeve
and a shit-eating grin on my face,
I passed the dirt lot again.
There was a guy with his head down,
scrounging for something in the dirt.
“Ya lost something?” I asked…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Danny Valdez was born in the low-end suburb of Mesa, Arizona. What is so astonishing about Danny is not that he triumphed over an unconventional childhood filled with guns, alcohol, and some neglect, but rather how he embraces and cherishes his complicated boyhood, with all its flaws. His story is heartbreaking, comical, and insightful—an openhearted and audaciously honest portrayal of a mixed Mexican/white boy emerging into adulthood.

Walkin’ with the Beast by Danny Valdez is available at or Sun Dog Press.


L.A. historian/author Kim Cooper, renowned for her Esotouric bus tours into “the secret heart of Los Angeles,” recently completed her noir novel THE KEPT GIRL – and is offering readers a terrific opportunity to subscribe to the book’s first printing (details at

The prestigious Kirkus Reviews recently featured THE KEPT GIRL in an article entitled “Eight Tales to Warm You Up for the New Year.” Mark your calendar for the launch party at Skylight books in Los Angeles on Thursday, 2/13/14.

The subscription offer — available through early January 2014 — features a variety of benefits, including the subscriber’s name prominently acknowledged in all copies of the book,  which will arrive enclosed in a limited-edition decorative slipcase. Book lovers, collectors, hardboiled fiction fans, don’t miss this chance to take part in a true publishing event. Considering all the benefits, this first-class publication is a tremendous bargain at just $65.

Before Raymond Chandler became LA’s crime laureate, he was an LA oil company executive. Inspired by this historic nugget, Kim Cooper, social historian and co-founder of Esotouric, spins Chandler’s early LA years, a sinister 1920s angel-worshipping cult, an LAPD cop and a heroine who is much more than a ‘kept girl’ into a deeply researched and compulsively readable crime novel.”

Denise Hamilton, author of DAMAGE CONTROL & editor of Edgar Award-winning anthology LOS ANGELES NOIR

ABOUT THIS PUBLISHING METHOD: The Subscription model of publishing flourished in England in the 17th Century. Instead of relying on a single regal (and often capricious) patron, authors and publishers cultivated a select group of literate, engaged readers and collectors whose support encouraged and enabled the publication of books that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive to produce. Through Subscription-sponsored publication, important atlases, geographies, and histories saw the light, along with great literature, including Milton’s Paradise Lost.

ABOUT THE BOOK: Kim Cooper‘s The Kept Girl is inspired by a sensational real-life Los Angeles cult murder spree which exploded into the public consciousness when fraud charges were filed against the cult’s leaders in 1929. The victim was the nephew of oil company president Joseph Dabney, Raymond Chandler‘s boss. In the novel, Chandler, still several years away from publishing his first short story, is one of three amateur detectives who uncover the ghastly truth about the Great Eleven cult over one frenetic week. Informed by the author’s extensive research into the literary, spiritual, criminal and architectural history of Southern California, The Kept Girl is a terrifying noir love story, set against the backdrop of a glittering pre-crash metropolis. To learn more about the book, visit the author’s blog. Sign up for the newsletter to receive occasional updates. Read a sample chapter here.

Kim Cooper is the perfect Virgil to 1929 Los Angeles, a city that was both a paradise and an inferno. Her knowledge of the city that was is unparalleled, her imagination unnerving. The real-life characters and crimes that would give birth to the pulp fiction of the 1930s and the film noir of the 1940s can all be found here. Aficionados of noir Los Angeles will read The Kept Girl with fascination and with growing horror as the terrible crime at its core is revealed.” 

John Buntin, author of L.A. NOIR


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kim Cooper is the creator of 1947project, the crime-a-day time travel blog that spawned Esotouric’s popular crime bus tours, including Pasadena Confidential, the Real Black Dahlia and Weird West Adams. Her collaborative L.A. history blogs include On Bunker Hill and In SRO Land. With husband Richard Schave, Kim curates the Salons of LAVA–The Los Angeles Visionaries Association. When the third generation Angeleno isn’t combing old newspapers for forgotten scandals, she is a passionate advocate for historic preservation of signage,vernacular architecture and writer’s homes. Kim was for many years the editrix of Scram, a journal of unpopular culture. Her books include Fall in Love For LifeBubblegum Music is the Naked TruthLost in the Grooves and an oral history of the cult band Neutral Milk Hotel. The Kept Girl is her first novel.

COVER ART: Paul Rogers


The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.” Excerpt from Travels with Charley: In Search of America, memoir by JOHN STEINBECK

Photo: Jon Von Neumann, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED