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Books: Remembering Harlan Ellison, following Robert Frost and more

Hello readers. I’m Carolyn Kellogg, L.A. Times Books Editor, with what’s new in books this week.

THE BIG FAREWELL

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It came as a surprise, I was told: Harlan Ellison died in his sleep Wednesday night at age 84. The science fiction writer — who hated it when people called him that — was sharply intelligent, influential in his writing and thinking and sometimes pugilistic in both words and deeds. Here’s our obituary, and dont’ miss this remembrance from Critic at Large John Scalzi, who saw the complexities of Ellison’s character.

Harlan Ellison in 1978.
Harlan Ellison in 1978. (Times File Photo)

THE BIG STORY

One of America’s most widely-read poets remains Robert Frost, whose poems — “The Road Not Taken,” “The Mending Wall” — were connected to the woods and fields around his home. Or, make that homes. He was rooted but restless. Tyler Malone, previously immune to Frost’s charms, follows his path in New England and explores Frost’s places, work and legacy.

The Frost Place in Franconia, N.H.
The Frost Place in Franconia, N.H. (Tyler Malone)

BESTSELLERS

The No. 1 bestseller in fiction this week is “The President Is Missing” by Bill Clinton and James Patterson. It’s held that spot for two weeks now. But that doesn’t compare with the book that’s been on our bestseller list the longest: “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles, now in its 92nd week on the list.

The No. 1 bestseller in nonfiction this week is “Calypso” by David Sedaris for the third week running. It’s the humorist’s latest collection and is centered on his vacation house on the coast of North Carolina, which he names “the Sea Section.” Snort.

You can find all the books on our bestseller lists here.

Amor Towles, author of "A Gentleman in Moscow."
Amor Towles, author of "A Gentleman in Moscow." (Michael Nagle)

MORE IN BOOKS

What do Joyce Carol Oates, Bethany C. Morrow and Marika Ohara have in common? They’ve all written books reviewed this week by Scott Bradfield, who has a keen eye for what makes science fiction and horror special. (The books are, respectively, “Night-Gaunts,” “Mem” and “Hybrid Child.”)

An award named for Laura Ingalls Wilder will now be called the Children's Literature Legacy Award because of the “Little House on the Prairie” author’s attitudes toward Native Americans and African Americans. The move was made by a division of the American Library Assn.

The Locus Awards were presented last weekend; big winners included N.K. Jemisin, Victor LaValle and John Scalzi.

Paula L. Woods reviews the mystery “Still Lives” by Maria Hummel. The book is set in the L.A. art world and features an art star a little bit like Cindy Sherman who’s gone missing.

Novelist Glen David Gold has brought to life imagined worlds of the early 20th century in “Carter Beats the Devil” and “Sunnyside.” In his new book, “I Will Be Complete,” he looks back to a closer past — California in the 1970s — and this time it’s not fiction, but a memoir. Jim Ruland has our review.

Bethany Morrow is author of the novel "Mem."
Bethany Morrow is author of the novel "Mem." (Elena Roussakis)

Thanks for reading!

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