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Billie Jean King brings ‘All In’ to the L.A. Times Book Club

Billie Jean King and her memoir, "All In: An Autobiography."
(Roger Erickson | Knopf)

Good morning, and welcome to the L.A. Times Book Club newsletter.

Billie Jean King grew up in Long Beach, the daughter of a firefighter dad and a homemaker mom who sold Avon and Tupperware to help the family get by.

She came of age in the Cold War era, before her high school had a girls’ tennis team. So she learned to play tennis in public parks, and in her teen years competed across Southern California, including at the Los Angeles Tennis Club. “The boys got everything and the girls got crumbs,” she recalls.

In her new book, “All In,” King recounts her career and lifelong journey to find herself. She takes readers inside a groundbreaking career: Six years as the world’s No. 1 women’s tennis player. Twenty Wimbledon championships. Beating Bobby Riggs on live TV in the 1973 “Battle of the Sexes.” And then the fleeing corporate sponsors when King was outed as gay in 1981.

All In” is our August book club selection. On Aug. 24, King joins book club readers for a conversation with Times executive sports editor Christian Stone about her memoir, which is set against the backdrop of the women’s movement, the civil rights movement and the fight for LGBTQ rights.

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“Early on, what was most apparent to me is that the world I wanted didn’t exist yet,” she writes. “It would be up to my generation to create it.”

The virtual book talk will be streaming on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook starting at 6 p.m. Pacific time on Aug. 24. A limited number of autographed copies of “All In” with a Los Angeles Times Book Club tote will be available for book club readers. Get tickets on Eventbrite.

 Billie Jean King in 2019 in Pasadena.
Billie Jean King in 2019 in Pasadena.
(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)

This month

As director Rodrigo Garcia’s father lay dying, he found himself taking notes about everything. He recorded his most profound sentiments. And he noted the banalities and processes of death.

“The moment of death and the moments around it are so incredibly simple, especially when a person is not in pain,” the filmmaker tells columnist Carolina A. Miranda. “It is like a light going out extremely softly and it leaves you dumbfounded. And then you have to do bureaucracy. And then there are things that make you laugh — the family is still the family. And there you are, two hours later, talking about anything.”

Garcia’s father was Colombian-born novelist Gabriel García Márquez, author of “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” the 1967 novel that helped reshape Latin American literature.

On July 29 Garcia joins us to discuss “A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes,” a remembrance of his father and his mother, Mercedes Barcha.

Garcia will be in conversation with Times editor Steve Padilla starting at 6 p.m. The event will livestream on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Sign up on Eventbrite.

Like his father, Garcia was born in Colombia. He grew up in Mexico City, studied history at Harvard University and went on to work as a screenwriter and director in Los Angeles. His latest film is “Four Good Days,” a drama with Mila Kunis and Glenn Close.

What questions do you have for Garcia? Send them in advance of book club night in an email to bookclub@latimes.com.

Rodrigo Garcia stands in an arch under a staircase at his home in Santa Monica.
Filmmaker Rodrigo Garcia at home in Santa Monica.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Reading guide

As book clubbers read Garcia’s memoir, it’s also a perfect time to savor the writing of his renowned father. English professor and author Lisa Alvarez compiled this guide to start reading — or rereading.

“Start with the stories, I tell my students. After all, it’s where I started,” Alvarez says. “Like them, I once was a community college student who loved to read. Back then, Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel laureate, was the writer to read. But, perhaps also like my students (and some readers), I was intimidated by the legend, the epic novels and maybe a little skeptical of the most celebrated work.

“I was — and am — more curious about the minor books of Colombia’s García Márquez, especially the early work. The short stories and the novellas and his journalism are both instructive and inspiring.”

 Gabriel Garcia Marquez and wife Mercedes Barcha seated on a train.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Mercedes Barcha arrive in his hometown, Aracataca, by train in 2007.
(Alejandra Vega / AFP via Getty Images)

We Can Teach You That

Careers in the entertainment industry can be mysterious, even for those working in the business. The Times has published an ongoing series exploring how to find work as a producer, writer, editor and other key roles.

Join Times reporters Anousha Sakoui and Wendy Lee on Aug. 10 at 6 p.m. for a practical discussion about how to find work in Hollywood.

In the latest installment of We Can Teach You That, Sakoui and Lee will discuss the career series, their work covering the business of Hollywood, the state of various jobs in the industry and how aspiring candidates can get a foot in the door.

Sakoui is an entertainment industry writer on The Times’ Company Town team, covering Hollywood and labor issues in media. Lee covers the business of podcasting, streaming services like Netflix, talent agencies and digital media. Sign up on Eventbrite for the webinar.

Host a watch party

In addition to viewing on your computer, phone, tablet or computer, there are several ways to watch the Los Angeles Times Book Club on your television screen. If you have a smart TV or streaming device, the simplest choice is to install and open the free YouTube app, then search for “Los Angeles Times Book Club,” where you can find the livestream and an archive of past events.

Or you can open the YouTube app on your smartphone or tablet and stream that feed to your smart TV or streaming device. Here’s how to stream from your iOS device.

For Android, methods vary depending on your TV setup, but they’re generally simple and quick. Do a web search, “How to stream Android to,” then add the type of TV or streaming device you have for instructions.

Browsing: You also can find past book club events at latimes.com/bookclub, including our June conversation with ER doctor Michele Harper, author of “The Beauty in Breaking.”

Author Michele Harper next to the cover of her book, "The Beauty in Breaking."
(Riverhead Books / LaTosha Oglesby)

Keep reading

Pool boys with a motive: Margaret Wappler digs into “Palm Springs Noir,” a new collection edited by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett: “Contrary to popular belief, noir doesn’t require a bleak city street for its setting. Nor water, for that matter. Noir thrives on secrets, lies and lust, all flowing plentifully through the jewel in the Coachella Valley’s fragile crown. In these 14 stories from writers who either live in or have ties to the area, including Janet Fitch, Alex Espinoza, T. Jefferson Parker and J.D. Horn, money, drugs, sex or freedom are all objects of desire.”

Best surf stories: The California Book Club has been reading William Finnegan’s “Barbarian Days” and shares seven other surf titles that pair well with Finnegan’s memoir.

Inspired by real events: Athlete-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick announced Thursday that he will release a children’s book, “I Color Myself Different.”

Reader in chief: Former President Barack Obama shared his summer reading list. Here are the 11 books he recommends.

Library with benefits: With more local museums and attractions reopening, the Los Angeles Public Library is restarting its Explore L.A. program. Get free or low-cost passes to local cultural venues by using your library card.

Book to screen: The Atlantic looks at the steady climb of literary adaptations to television, while Rotten Tomatoes compiles a list of “125 books becoming TV series we cannot wait to see.” Recent book club guest Viet Thanh Nguyen tweets his latest news: His Pulitzer Prize-winning spy novel, “The Sympathizer,” has been picked up by HBO. “We are now looking for the sympathizer himself. Might it be you?” Deadline has the details.

Book to screen, Part II: C Pam Zhang’s novel “How Much of These Hills Is Gold,” set in the twilight of the California Gold Rush, is being developed for television by the Ink Factory and Endeavor Content. Via Variety.

New fiction: Climate fiction isn’t genre, author Lydia Millet argues: It’s hard realism. Miller, the author of “A Children’s Bible,” explains and explores the growing ranks of cli-fi books, from literary novels to science fiction.

Last word: “Investigative reporting is important because that is the most critical reporting in a democracy. It is what exposes the way that power is wielded, exposes the way that vulnerable people are mistreated.” That’s author Nikole Hannah-Jones talking about her new center for journalism and democracy at Howard University.


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