Fall fiction powerhouses: Meet Lydia Millet, Percival Everett and Celeste Ng
Good morning, and welcome to the L.A. Times Book Club newsletter.
This fall, we’re going all in on gripping, smart fiction. I love this powerhouse lineup!
On Oct. 26 Tucson author Lydia Millet joins book club readers at the Autry Museum of the American West to discuss “Dinosaurs.” The author of “A Children’s Bible,” Millet was a 2020 National Book Award finalist. “Dinosaurs” debuted Tuesday and already is one of the most-talked-about new releases this fall. Get tickets.
“Time after time, ‘Dinosaurs’ develops in unexpected directions, avoiding several potentially cliched turns and any sort of moralizing messaging,” writes Cory Oldweiler in the Boston Globe. “The novel buzzes with an uneasy undercurrent of violence.”
Then on Nov. 16 we’re back at the Autry for an evening with Los Angeles novelist and USC English professor Percival Everett. Everett writes books that play with genre, language and our assumptions about race and gender. But for his new novel, “Dr. No,” he has written a supervillain caper about “nothing.” Get tickets.
Reviewer Lorraine Berry describes the book as a “cross-genre hybrid featuring a cast of characters out of a 007 novel.” Everett is the author of more than 30 novels, including “The Trees,” shortlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize.
This just in: On Dec. 8, novelist Celeste Ng, the author of “Little Fires Everywhere,” joins us to discuss her new bestseller, “Our Missing Hearts,” the story of a 12-year-old boy’s epic quest to find his missing mother. Ticket information for this virtual event is coming soon.
“Like many of her fellow writers of dystopian fiction, including Margaret Atwood, P.D. James, Philip K. Dick and Hillary Jordan, Ng harnesses the power of the David-and-Goliath story — a prototypical quest story that has the benefit of maybe being real,” says Times reviewer Bethanne Patrick.
“Or if it isn’t, it accords with history. The asymmetrical power of a smaller group pitted against a large, corrupt state is more than just a great storytelling trope. It has happened many times in recorded history.”
In advance of our next book club night, Lydia Millet talked with writer Martin Wolk about the inspiration for her new novel, “Dinosaurs.”
Birds of the desert are the dinosaurs of the novel’s title. Millet loves to riff on the idea that birds are the living descendants of those ancient creatures.
“The older I get, the more I am fascinated by [birds],” she says. “They’re just evolutionarily sort of perfect beings with their strength and lightness and how they can migrate these long distances — they just seem so well designed.”
In more than a dozen books, Millet has won acclaim for darkly humorous works touching on a wide range of topics, whether grief, California real estate or the building of the atomic bomb. She has emerged as a major Western voice on the environment, a subject she tackles in fiction as well as nonfiction essays and other writings.
Millet juggles writing novels with her day job at the Center for Biological Diversity, a nonprofit whose mission is “saving life on Earth” by preserving the diversity of the world’s plant and animal species. Her role as chief editor at the Tucson center means she is “bombarded” every day with news about the state of the planet.
“I can’t get away from reading and writing and editing materials about extinction and climate change,” she says.
On Oct. 26 Millet will be in conversation with Times reporter and novelist Jeffrey Fleishman at the Autry, a special book club night that includes wine, live music and browsing the museum after hours. Please join us! After so many months on Zoom, it’s a great opportunity for book clubbers to connect in person again.
What questions do you have for Millet and Fleishman? Please send them in an emaii to firstname.lastname@example.org.
4 questions for Angie Jaime
Angie Jaime leads The Times’ new 404 team, a squad tasked with experimenting, including TikTok videos, memes, illustrations, comics, graphic art and content for emerging platforms. She’s also an avid reader and shared some of her favorites.
What’s the best book you’ve read lately? I just reread “Eve’s Hollywood” by Eve Babitz and it’s as dreamy as ever. Each sentence is somehow lucid and sharp, yet cool and flowing.
Where do you like to read? I love reading in bed most of all, but lately I’ve been taking a book on a stroll with me to a local park at the base of Baldwin Hills.
Where do you find new books? Books have a way of finding me, I think.
Who are your favorite authors? There are way too many to name, but I’ll keep it simple by saying that Neil Gaiman is a perennial favorite (“Sandman”! “The Ocean at the End of the Lane”!). Lately I’ve been an admirer of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s work. It’s probably not surprising, but I will always find room to roam in in fantasy, gothic and horror works.
ICYMI: Moreno-Garcia joined book club readers in September to discuss “The Daughter of Doctor Moreau,” and you can watch her conversation with Column One editor Steve Padilla here. Don’t miss her Times essay about why she loves to write across science fiction, fantasy, horror and noir genres.
“Make sure you do things the way you want to do it. Write songs that you want to write. Say what you want to write,” said Willie Nelson at Thursday’s book club night. He stopped by during his SoCal tour to discuss a new memoir, “Me and Paul: Untold Stories of a Fabled Friendship.”
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