Books: A smart look at classic Hollywood, two new books from Lucia Berlin and more book news

Jean Harlow and Howard Hughes in the 1930s. Hughes and the women in his orbit are the focus of Karina Longworth's "Seduction."
(Kobal / REX / Shutterstock)
Books Editor

Welcome! I’m Books Editor Carolyn Kellogg with the latest in Books at the L.A. Times.


I’m a huge fan of Karina Longworth’s podcast “You Must Remember This,” in which she combines relentless research with 21st century smarts to tell amazing stories about classic Hollywood (and Madonna, and the Manson family). So I was thrilled when I learned that she was writing a book that would expand on one thing she’d talked about: the loves of Howard Hughes. The book — “Seduction: Sex, Lies and Stardom in Howard Hughes’ Hollywood” — is about much more than Hughes, digging into gender and power structures in early Hollywood. Which, of course, is still relevant today, writes Sheila O’Malley, who praises the book for its fluid intersecting narratives of sex, greed, fame and creation” in our review.

Howard Hughes and Ava Gardner
(Hulton Archive / Getty Images)


Lucia Berlin’s work was rediscovered with the popular 2015 short story collection, “A Manual for Cleaning Women.” Next week sees the publication of two new books from the author, who died in 2004 — stories in “Evening in Paradise” and a memoir, “Welcome Home.” One illuminates and the other expands her work, Ellie Robins writes in our review.

Lucia Berlin and her son David circa 1963.
(Literary Estate of Lucia Berlin)



In a nice kind of balance, Patrick DeWitt’s “French Exit” is at No. 8 on its eighth week on the fiction list.

An illustrated book of affirmations from Tony-award-winning Lin-Manuel Miranda titled “Gmorning, Gnight!”— the kind of thing he’s been posting on Twitter — is No. 3 on the nonfiction list in its second week.

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

Lin-Manuel Miranda in Puerto Rico last month. His new book is "Gmorning, Gnight!"
(Pedro Portal / TNS)


Colin Dickey reviews Marina Benjamin’s new treatise on the maddening, isolated, shared experience of sleeplessness, “Insomnia.”

Like Netflix’s “Altered Carbon”? You’ll be up for “Thin Air,” the new Mars-based thriller by its creator, Richard K. Morgan, writes Antony Jones.

Next week Michelle Obama’s memoir “Becoming” arrives; here’s a preview of the book.


This week, an author of Bigfoot erotica won his race for Congress. He’ll be representing the constituents of the 5th Congressional District in Virginia.

Republican Denver Riggleman, author of the book "The Mating Habits of Bigfoot and Why Women Want Him."
(Lee Luther Jr. / AP)

Thanks for reading!