Jewish Journal

World of adventure for the bookshelf

by Jonathan Kirsch

Posted on May. 28, 2014 at 2:16 pm

The summer season offers some remarkable opportunities for face-to-face encounters with authors who are celebrated not merely for their celebrity but for the quality of their written work. To be sure, Kendall Jenner will be touting “Rebels: City of Indra: The Story of Lex and Livia” (Gallery Books), which she co-wrote with her sister, Kylie, when they weren’t filming “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” But the roster of touring authors for the summer of 2014 is full of authentic working writers, too. (The Jenner event, by the way, will take place at 7 p.m. June 12, at Barnes & Noble in The Grove at Farmers Market, 189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles.)

Our own Kenneth Turan, who has been guiding moviegoers for decades as the film critic of the Los Angeles Times and more recently for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” is the go-to guy when it comes to the treasures of the silver screen.  (He is also active with the National Yiddish Book Center, which only goes to show that he is a real mensch, too.) Around our house, we always want to know “what Kenny thinks” of any new movie that comes along. Now Turan reprises the flicks that he regards as “friends who’ve enriched my life” in “Not to Be Missed: Fifty-Four Favorites From a Lifetime of Film” (PublicAffairs). Some of his tips are surprising, many are heart-warmingly familiar, but all of them are rooted in his deep mastery of film as both art and craft and enlivened by his sheer ardor. It’s a must-read for anyone who, like me, loves movies in the abstract but is always ready to hear a hot tip about the one movie in particular that is, exactly as Turan puts it, “not to be missed.” 

Turan will talk about his new book at 7 p.m. June 12, at Book Soup, 8818 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood.

Another homegrown favorite, now an international best-selling author, is Lisa See, whose latest novel is “China Dolls” (Random House). She describes herself as “intrigued by stories that have been lost, forgotten or deliberately covered up,” and “China Dolls” is one of those stories, the adventures of three beautiful, young Chinese-American women who enter the demimonde of San Francisco’s Chinatown nightclub scene — the so-called “Chop Suey Circuit” — during the years leading up to the outbreak of World War II. As with all of See’s romantic novels, the saga owes as much to the blind forces of history as it does to the more intimate conflicts that erupt among these three women, all of it recounted with the color and drama that are See’s trademarks.

See’s calendar of local events includes a talk and signing at 3 p.m. June 8, at Diesel Bookstore, Brentwood Country Mart, 225 26th St., Brentwood. For more local appearances, visit lisasee.com.

An encounter between fiction and psychoanalysis will be on display when two highly acclaimed novelists, Michelle Huneven and Mona Simpson, engage in public conversation with psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas as part of the ALOUD series at the Central Library. Huneven’s latest novel is “Off Course” (Sarah Crichton), and Simpson’s new book is “Casebook” (Knopf), both of which confront “love and its moral varieties” from very different perspectives. “The landscape descriptions are erotic,” the New Yorker said of Huneven’s book, “and the erotic scenes have near-hallucinatory power.” In a review for the Journal of Simpson’s “Casebook,” Dora Levy Mossanen wrote: “With her own distinctive wry humor and razor-sharp voice, Simpson is at her best when depicting the complicated, loving and anxiety-ridden relationship between a child and a parent.” 

The event takes place at 7:15 p.m. June 18 at the Los Angeles Central Library’s Mark Taper Auditorium, 630 W. Fifth St., Los Angeles. For tickets and information, visit ifla.org.

Some acting careers burn white-hot on the screen and some off-screen. Lee Grant’s has in both places, as we learn in her compelling and moving autobiography, “I Said Yes to Everything: A Memoir” (Blue Rider Press).  Born Lvova Haskell Rosenfeld, she ran the gamut from Broadway star and Vogue “It Girl” to an Academy Award nomination at the age of 24.  When she ended up on the Hollywood blacklist, however, she found herself in a struggle for survival that put both her career and her marriage at risk. Ultimately, Grant’s memoir is a story of redemption as she reinvented herself and re-entered show business with even greater distinction than before. In that sense, “I Said Yes to Everything” is a Hollywood memoir with a happy ending, and Grant is nothing less than a heroic figure. 

Grant will appear at 7 p.m. July 16, at Barnes & Noble at The Grove at Farmers Market, 189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles.

Prose is a fine art in the hands of Dylan Landis, whose prize-winning short-story collection, “Normal People Don’t Live Like This,” was honored by More magazine on its list of “100 Books Every Woman Must Read.” Landis’ latest book is a novel, “Rainey Royal” (Soho Press), which is yet another example of her lapidary fiction and her unsettling imagination. “ ‘Rainey Royal’ gets under your skin, pushes you out of your comfort zone, and takes you to a truer, more frightening place. … Dylan Landis captures the innocence and cruelty of teenage girls in flamey, jewel-like sentences that hover on the edge of rapture; read these stories with your heart in your throat,” writes Ellis Avery, author of “The Last Nude.”  

Landis will present her new book at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 9, at Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles.

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