Books: An indie publisher with a vision, Halloween in August and more book news

Books Editor

Welcome readers! I’m L.A. Times books editor Carolyn Kellogg with this week’s newsletter.


It’s not easy starting a publishing house; it’s even harder if you try to do it outside typical distribution channels, including Amazon. But that’s what J.C. Gabel has done with his L.A.-based Hat & Beard Press. Its aesthetics are eclectic: the four books that have sold best to date are a collection of hand-painted dance hall signs from Jamaica; cactus photography; a book on the music of David Lynch’s films done in collaboration with the filmmaker; and a revival of the L.A. punk magazine Slash. Scott Timberg talks to the irrepressible Gabel about the roots of his vision and plans for the future.

J.C. Gabel with some of Hat & Beard's bestselling books.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)


We’ve got two stories about horror fiction this week. The first is a feature on Paul Tremblay, one of the new stars of horror. His most recent book, “The Cabin at the End of the World” (there’s a double meaning: it’s in the middle of nowhere, but the apocalypse may have come) has been popping up on bestseller lists since its publication in June. The road wasn’t easy, Tremblay tells Gabino Iglesias.

Paul Tremblay
(Michael Lajoie)

Being laid off inspired Ling Ma’s debut novel, “Severance,” an unusual hybrid of post-apocalyptic zombie tale and office satire. “I was kind of angry,” she tells Michael Schaub in our interview, “but I also felt extremely liberated and extremely gleeful at the same time.”

Ling Ma
(Anjali Pinto)


Anne Tyler is in her fifth week our fiction bestseller list with “Clock Dance,” placing at No. 8. Also in its fifth week on the list and holding tight at No. 1 in fiction is Ottessa Moshfegh’s “My Year of Rest and Relaxation.”

Now in its 11th week on the list, “Calypso” by David Sedaris remains the No. 1 bestseller in nonfiction. Entering the list for the first time is “Everything Trump Touches Dies” by Rick Wilson, a Republican strategist and lifelong conservative, at No. 4.

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

Anne Tyler in 2007. Her new novel is "Clock Dance."
(Diana Walker / AP)


If you are reading this Saturday morning, you’ve still got time to head to the Leimert Park Village Book Fair, which kicks off at 10 a.m. with a gospel tribute to Aretha Franklin and is headlined by author Eric Jerome Dickey. More info.

Was it really just months ago that Michael Cohen was shopping a book favorable to the president titled “Trump Revolution” to publishers? Indeed it was.

Poet Diane Seuss’ last book was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Victoria Chang reviews her latest — “Still Life With Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl” — and finds that Seuss is “writing some of the most animated and complex poetry today.” Our review.

Author N.K. Jemisin made history last weekend winning her third Hugo for best novel. Our news.

There is no one better than Diana Athill to comment on the life and work of V.S. Naipaul. Athill, now 100 going on 101, was Naipaul’s publisher, editor and friend — for a while. She writes about the difficult Nobel prizewinning author, who died earlier this month, in the Guardian.

V.S. Naipaul in 2001 after learning he had won the Nobel Prize. Diana Athill writes of him, "You don’t have to be a good person to be a good writer."
(Chris Ison / AP)

Thanks for reading!