May 31, 2011
Summer reads in all varieties
Some beloved and celebrated authors will hit the road in support of their latest books as this summer begins. Here are a few of the most intriguing titles and some of the places where their authors will be reading and signing their books in Southern California:
Lisa See, author of “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” (now a motion picture) and other recent best sellers, continues the tale she began in “Shanghai Girls” by chronicling the further exploits of the characters — the sisters Pearl and May, and May’s daughter, Joy — during the tumultuous 1950s in China and other exotic locales around the world in “Dreams of Joy” (Random House: $26). “Looks like another hit,” predicts Publishers Weekly. A reading group favorite, See works her magic yet again in a tale that shows how the intimate experiences of life play out amid the great events of history. See’s national book tour will bring her to Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, on Thursday, June 2 at 7 p.m. and, as a sign of the times in the publishing industry, she will also sign books at Costco, 6100 Sepulveda Blvd., Van Nuys, on Friday, June 3, at 1 p.m.
Former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi first came to national attention by putting Charles Manson and the Manson Family behind bars — an experience he chronicled (with Curt Gentry) in “Helter Skelter” — and he went on to write about other notorious people and events in “And the See Will Tell” (with Bruce Henderson), “Reclaiming History” and “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder.” Now Bugliosi tackles the biggest and oldest question of all in “Divinity of Doubt: The God Question” (Vanguard Press: $26.99). As he surveys the arguments for and against the existence of God, he directs our attention to “the uniform thread of common sense in the evidence,” which is, he asserts, “my only master.” The verdict? Bugliosi is neither a believer nor an atheist, but a principled agnostic. He will appear at Book Soup, 8188 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, on Tuesday, June 21, at 7 p.m.
Comedian Paul Reiser, among those first-generation stand-up comedians who reinvented themselves as sitcom stars, made a third career for himself on the best-seller lists with his chatty and lighthearted humor and advice books, “Couplehood” and “Babyhood.” Now he completes the trilogy with “Familyhood” (Hyperion: $26.99), a likable look at the aspirations and realities of family life. He confides that he chronicled his own family of origin in a list titled “Things I’m Not So Crazy About in My Family,” and he is just as frank about the family he belongs to now. Reiser will appear at Barnes & Noble at The Grove at Farmers Market in Los Angeles, on Wednesday, June 15, at 7 p.m.
Paris has the Eiffel Tower, London has Big Ben, and we’ve got the Hollywood sign, an artifact that is explored and explained in compelling color and detail in Leo Braudy’s “The Hollywood Sign” (Yale University Press: $24). The story that Braudy tells is all the more surprising for the fact that we see the sign every day, and he reveals what we don’t know about it — how and why it was built, the scandals associated with it and the powerful role it has come to play in popular culture. Braudy will be featured in conversation with another Los Angeles institution — Kevin Roderick, founding editor of L.A. Observed (laobserved.com) — in the ALOUD series at the Los Angeles Public Library, on Thursday, July 21, at 7 p.m.
Long before “Twilight” and “True Blood,” there was “Dark Shadows,” a groundbreaking variant of the standard American soap opera featuring a cast of vampires and a young actress named Kathryn Leigh Scott as the much-preyed-upon ingenue. She recalled her experiences in “My Scrapbook Memories of Dark Shadows,” a memoir that launched her parallel careers as both an author and a publisher. Now Scott conjures up a thriller of her own — and something of a roman a clef — in “Dark Passages” (Pomegranate Press: $14.95), which depicts the various kinds of bloodsuckers who haunt the set of a ’60s-era soap opera. Scott will be feted at a publication party for her new book at Diesel Books, Brentwood Country Mart, Santa Monica, on Sunday, Aug. 7, at 3 p.m.