Memorial Day weekend is stacked with literary events in and around Los Angeles: a brilliantly named bookstore opens in Long Beach, a new reading series launches in East Hollywood, the annual L.A. Zine Fest brings its DIY circus back to town and a daring variety show gets weird at Stories Books and Café. If you’re still going after the weekend, there’s more. Here are the best things to do this week in literary LA.
Page Against the Machine launches in Long Beach
Hats off to owner Chris Giaco for opening a bookstore with what is already one of the all-time greatest names. Page Against the Machine (it’s just so good) launched in April but celebrates its official grand opening Friday with a block party on Long Beach’s East Retro Row. Pop-ups include Paris vegan shoe company Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather and San Francisco’s Summerland Ceramics. Shop for titles like “Pleasure Activism” and “Chomsky for Beginners;” Page Against the Machine specializes in “fightin’ words for mass defiance, empowerment, and self-reliance!"
6 p.m. Friday at Page Against the Machine, 2714 E. 4th St., Long Beach. Free.
The inaugural Release Series opens at the Virgil
Fresh on the heels of her wildly popular reading series the Table and Dirty Laundry Lit, novelist and literary linchpin Natashia Deón returns with the Release Series, which debuts Saturday night at the Virgil. The series celebrates the release of a single book, Sara Borjas’ “Heart Like a Window, Mouth Like a Cliff,” alongside a slew of other writers, including Charles Jensen, Amanda Fletcher, Marcus Omari and Jeff Eyres. “They’re all from different communities,” Deón says of the lineup, “Leimert Park, East L.A., the LGBT community, the Muslim community… I want it to look like L.A. really looks.” Release Series sponsor My Lit Box, a quarterly subscription service featuring writers of color, will be on site with information and merchandise.
8 p.m. Saturday at the Virgil, 4519 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles. $5.
The 2019 L.A. Zine Fest takes over Helms Bakery
For book lovers with a countercultural bent, there are few things more satisfying than discovering a totally bonkers zine. Luckily, the annual L.A. Zine Fest is back Sunday for its eighth year, stuffing the Helms Bakery parking garage with scores of DIY, experimental, personal and political gems from roughly 200 exhibitors. Scour racks and stacks for photocopied oddities or color-saturated risographs, and don’t sleep on tables helmed by the L.A.Public Library’s Zine Library, Boyle Heights’ Other Books and Zines and Oakland’s Floss Editions. The latter’s mesmerizing, two-toned “Soft Balance” was a standout at Printed Matter; dart over before it sells out.
Noon Sunday at Helms Bakery, 8711 Washington Blvd., Los Angeles. Free.
Watch performers get ‘Nervous’ at Stories Books and Café
While the Release Series presents a reading in a nightclub, Nervous brings a variety show to Stories Books and Café. There’s another twist: At the behest of host Deenah Vollmer, “these terrified artists will share something [that] no one has ever seen them share before.” True, there’s something comforting about seeing a singer, or an author on tour, recite their greatest hits, but while practice makes perfect, it can also get a little stale. Nervous, on the other hand, is intentionally discomforting and potentially electrifying: April’s installment featured a protest song by multi-hyphenate artist Charlyne Yi, a reading from Believer features editor James Yeh and a body-paint performance piece by musician Samira Winter. (You don’t see that everyday.) Monday’s edition features songwriter Jeffrey Lewis, Emmy-winning comedy writer Scott Jacobson and many more brave souls prepared to sweat for your amusement.
7:30 p.m. Monday at Stories Books and Café, 1716 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. Free.
Josh Levin discusses his new biography ‘The Queen’ at Skylight Books
Slate editor Josh Levin spent six years researching and reporting “The Queen: The Forgotten Life Behind an American Myth,” a biography of Linda Taylor, the “welfare queen” whose image was twisted into a pernicious racial stereotype. Levin discusses his book, which is part true crime and part social history, and which is generating buzz for its complexity, wildness and insight, with The Times’ Julia Turner on Wednesday at Skylight Books.