Art, Darwin, Smog and Cuba: Book events this week


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Our top pick this week: Denis Dutton, editor of Arts & Letters Daily, will discuss his new book ‘The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure and Human Evolution’ at the Central Library downtown on Wednesday, Jan. 7 at 7 p.m. He’ll be at the ALOUD series (free, registration required) in conversation with Michael Shermer of the Skeptic Society. Arts & Letters Daily, which compiles some of the Internet’s best links about literature and the humanitites, is an essential destination, and its proprietor has come all the way from New Zealand. The book makes the argument that aesthetic tastes are not socially constructed but evolutionary. Should be interesting.

Also recommended:

Chip Jacobs, co-author of ‘Smogtown: The Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles.’
Thursday, Jan. 8, 7 p.m.
at Book Soup in West Hollywood
Our reviewer Chris Daley writes: ‘Style delivers substance in true Hollywood fashion, with character-driven plots draped in glamour and sensation. Whether we learn about photochemical pollution via a renegade Caltech scientist or travel with a group of Beverly Hills socialites as they embrace environmental activism, the history of smog has never been so sexy.’


Wholpin No. 7 DVD release party
Friday, Jan. 8 at 8 p.m.
the Silent Movie Theater on Fairfax; tickets $10
What’s literary about a party for a short film magazine? Wholpin is the DVD magazine from McSweeney’s, first of all; second of all, No. 7 literary includes ‘The Discipline of D.E.,’ a 9-minute film made in 1982 by director Gus Van Sant, based on a chapter of William S. Burroughs’ book ‘Exterminator!’

Peter Moruzzi signs ‘Havana Before Castro’
Friday, Jan. 9 at 7 p.m.
at Vroman’s in Pasadena
‘The book’s illustrations, from old postcards, photographs and posters, favor the sleek simplicity of modern design,’ Scott Timberg wrote in August. ‘’Havana Before Castro’ is an oversized, image-heavy book that resembles much of the output of Taschen, but with considerably more text than most.’

-- Carolyn Kellogg