David L. Ulin

Columnist

David L. Ulin is the former book critic of the Los Angeles Times. A 2015 Guggenheim Fellow, he is the author or editor of nine books, including "Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles," the novella "Labyrinth," “The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time” and the Library of America’s “Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology,” which won a California Book Award. He left The Times in 2015. 

Recent Articles

  • Clancy Martin's new novel is not about 'Bad Sex' but the bad stuff sex can make us do

    Clancy Martin's new novel is not about 'Bad Sex' but the bad stuff sex can make us do

    Among my favorite aspects of Clancy Martin's second novel, "Bad Sex," is that it is not about bad sex; in fact, the sex is relentless, passionate. Rather, it is about all the bad stuff sex — or sexual obsession — can make us do. Narrated by Brett, a recovering alcoholic who betrays her sobriety,...

  • 7 great books and bookish events for fall

    7 great books and bookish events for fall

    Rock star memoirs, poetry and comics, reflections on race and marriage equality — in other words, it’s fall, a season of big books, big ideas, voices and visions. Here are seven books and book events not to be missed.  Sept. 22 "Notes on the Assemblage" by Juan Felipe Herrera This has the feeling...

  • Patrick deWitt's 'Undermajordomo Minor' winks at fairy tale conventions

    Patrick deWitt's 'Undermajordomo Minor' winks at fairy tale conventions

    On the acknowledgments page of his third novel, "Undermajordomo Minor," Patrick deWitt cites as inspiration a variety of writers, including Thomas Bernhard, Italo Calvino, Roald Dahl, Shirley Jackson and Jean Rhys. This tells us something important about his intent. Like DeWitt's last book, "The...

  • Read before you speak

    Read before you speak

    I have a suggestion: If you want to complain about curriculum, you need to read the books. Twice in the last week, undergraduates in North Carolina — first at Duke University and then at the University of North Carolina — have objected to assigned books they haven’t read. In the initial instance,...

  • Teach This Poem seeks to make poetry accessible to students

    Teach This Poem seeks to make poetry accessible to students

    One of my favorite digital features is the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, in which a new poem is delivered, daily, via Web or email. I don’t look at it all the time, but fairly often, and I am glad to know it’s there. Here’s a taste of today’s selection, “Forecast” by Camille Rankine: An...

  • Why read controversial author Jonathan Franzen's new 'Purity'? The fierce writing

    Why read controversial author Jonathan Franzen's new 'Purity'? The fierce writing

    Jonathan Franzen's career offers a cautionary narrative — for us as much as him. As far back as 1996, with "Perchance to Dream," his long essay published in Harper's on the state of contemporary fiction, he has filled the role of both avatar and scapegoat, an ambitious writer who can't (or won't)...

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