5 unmissable L.A. book events: James Ellroy, Bloomsday, an L.A. punk poet and more
By Margaret Wappler
Jun 14, 2019 | 11:25 AM
Father’s Day is on June 16, but there’s a whole week of dazzling readings for every type of dad. Like a classic tome? We’ve got Bloomsday, the annual celebration of “Ulysses.” Want to be a punk rock poet? Beyond Baroque will honor Ed Smith and his posthumous collection edited by David Trinidad. There’s more: The Try Guys encourage us all to fail, Mona Awad serves up delicious satirical horror, and there’s no denying the raw might of James Ellroy.
What if you’re not a dad, yet or ever? James Joyce would say there’s a papa in all of us: “Every life is in many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love, but always meeting ourselves.” Go forth and read, Big Daddies.
Cops and corruption in World War II Los Angeles
Never one to rest on his stack of bestsellers, hard-crime impresario James Ellroy continues his voracious tour of American history in “This Storm,” the second book in the projected sequence titled the Second L.A. Quartet, launched in 2014 with “Perfidia.” Ellroy looked back at crime and corruption in Los Angeles between 1946-1958 his beloved original L.A. Quartet that started with “The Black Dahlia,” but “This Storm” sets the clock back to January 1942 with the discovery of a dead body in Griffith Park. Ellroy familiars abound, including William Parker, alcoholic future chief of the Los Angeles Police Department; Hideo Ashida, a brilliant forensic scientist; and, of course, Dudley Smith, LAPD sergeant and ruthless villain. Ellroy will read from the book.
Never finished “Ulysses”? Don’t worry, what happens in Dublin will be lovingly re-created here in Los Angeles at the Hammer for its annual Bloomsday celebration. Veteran actors Síle Bermingham, James Gallo, James Lancaster, John Lee, Johnny O’Callaghan and Sonya Macari will read from “the Wandering Rocks” episode, which features almost all of the major and minor characters from James Joyce’s opus as they crisscross the city. A river o’ Guinness and live music from Rattle the Knee will be served.
In the early ’80s, a collective of artists and writers that included Michael Silverblatt, Benjamin Weissman, Mike Kelley and Dennis Cooper welcomed a “brilliant, handsome, charismatic, disarming, hedonistic, wounded math and science nerd” into their ranks. That description of Ed Smith, who committed suicide at age 48 in 2005, is from poet Amy Gerstler, one of the many friends of Smith who will appear to celebrate a posthumous collection of his work, “Punk Rock Is Cool for the End of the World: Poems and Notebooks of Ed Smith,” edited by David Trinidad, who will be on hand. The reunion of the ’80s Beyond Baroque scene will include Silverblatt, Weissman, Jim Krusoe, Bill Mohr, Sheree Rose, Bruce Hainley, Jack Skelley and Jane DeLynn.
You’ve made a mistake or two, right? At some point? Well, so have the Try Guys, a Los Angeles-based quartet of YouTube-famous dudes who admit their shortcomings and then try to do better, or try something for the first time with hilarious, sometimes disastrous, always eye-opening results. Meet Keith, Ned, Zach and Eugene, who have collected their adventures in simulating the pain of labor, doing drag, marching in a parade, baking bread with no recipe and much more in their first book, “The Hidden Power of …” replete with a sort of naughty title we can’t print here.
7 p.m. Thursday, June 20, at Barnes & Noble at the Grove, 189 the Grove Drive, Suite K30. $27.36 includes signed book and photo op; must have ticket to attend.
Creative writing cliques with Mona Awad and Sarah Shun-lien Bynum
For her second novel, Mona Awad (“13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl”) turns her gaze toward a prestigious MFA program in creative writing ruled by a coterie of women who are called the Bunnies. Much to Samantha’s disgust, the Bunnies lavish one another with public displays of affection and seem unimpressed with Samantha’s stories in workshop. Everything changes when Samantha reluctantly attends one of the Bunnies’ fabled “Smut Salons.” Despite the protestations of her cynical Goth bestie, Ava, Samantha gets sucked into the Bunnies’ twee but dangerous cult until it all culminates “in a shocking and bizarre confrontation that you truly have to read to believe,” writes The Times’ Michael Schaub. At Chevalier’s Books, Awad will discuss “Bunny” with Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, author of the “Ms. Hempel Chronicles,” a finalist for the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award, and “Madeleine Is Sleeping,” a finalist for the 2004 National Book Award.