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Books

LéaLA festival, going wild in L.A., ‘Year of the Monkey’ and more book events this week

Mountain lion P-22
The mountain lion known as P-22 is featured in “Wild LA,” a recent book from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
(Associated Press)

It’s a robust week for Los Angeles literary events, rich in dreams and nightmare realities, pop culture gods and false icons, and a mighty mountain lion named P-22. The city also hosts a weekend celebration of the written word en Español.

Here’s the full lineup:

Viva el Español. Returning to Los Angeles after four years, the LéaLA literary festival is a three-day celebration for adults and kids with more than 35 leading Ibero-American writers and artists. Speakers include journalist Diego Enrique Osorno, Peruvian poet Giovanna Pollarolo and Mexican novelist-poet-playwright Carmen Boullosa. This year’s theme, “The Border and Its Metaphors,” will be illuminated in an inaugural conference today hosted by journalist Lydia Cacho, described by Amnesty International as “perhaps Mexico’s most famous investigative journalist and women’s rights advocate.”

10 a.m.-6 p.m. today-Sunday. LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, 501 N. Main St. , Los Angeles. Free.

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City of Angels and Animals. Gregory B. Pauly, curator at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, cracks open our concrete jungle with “Wild LA: Explore the Amazing Nature in and Around Los Angeles.” Co-written with fellow NHMLA scientist Lila M. Higgins (and Jason G. Goldman and Charles Hood), “Wild LA” sings the praises of the 20 bat species (at least) that live in Los Angeles County, the area’s 500-plus bird species (making this the “birdiest” county in all of America) and Hollywood’s famous mountain lion, P-22. The Southern California’s Independent Booksellers Assn. recently honored “Wild LA” with the 2019 Nonfiction Book Award. At this Occidental College event, Pauly will discuss “Wild LA,” followed by refreshments and a chance to handle some winged friends from Moore Lab’s urban parrot project.

5 -7 p.m. Tuesday. Occidental College, Academic Commons Building, Mary Norton Clapp Library, 1600 Campus Road. Free.

Saviors and sinners. Building on the success of “Basketball (And Other Things), middle school teacher-turned-bestselling author Shea Serrano returns with a new book, “Movies (And Other Things).” With illustrations by Arturo Torres, Serrano uses his trademark wit to probe questions such as which movie with Kevin Costner in the white savior role is the ultimate white savior role? What characters from other high school movies could hold their own with ice-queen Regina George in “Mean Girls”? Is Sandra Bullock’s character in “Gravity” actually a religious figure? Serrano, with his more than 300,000 Twitter followers, joins a discussion at Skylight.

7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave. Free.

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Only in dreams. “Just Kids” and “M Train” showed that Patti Smith is not only a music icon but a poetic documentarian of her life too. Her latest memoir, “Year of the Monkey,” takes the transformative year of 2016 when she visited dying friends, watched Donald Trump ascend to the presidency and embarked on her 70th year. During travels around California and other parts of the country, Smith took photographs, which head up each chapter in “Year of the Monkey.” Dreams factor in heavily, as well as death, in this deft and enigmatic narrative, says reviewer David L. Ulin. Smith will discuss the book at the Alex Theatre in this event hosted by the Times Ideas Exchange, from Skylight Books.

7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand, Glendale. $40-$100.

Lost and found. Margaret Atwood has called Rene Denfeld’s third novel, “The Butterfly Girl,” “heartbreaking, finger-gnawing, and yet ultimately hopeful.” Denfeld, a former death penalty investigator and foster adoptive parent, returns with Naomi, an investigator with a gift for finding missing children. In Denfeld’s previous novel, “The Child Finder,” Naomi helps strangers; this time, she turns her attention to finding her own sister, but without a photo of her or even a name. Denfeld, who draws on her experience as a formerly homeless youth, will be in conversation with Los Angeles novelist Janet Fitch (“Chimes of a Lost Cathedral”).

6:30 p.m. Thursday. Diesel bookstore, Brentwood Country Mart, 225 26th St. Suite 33, Santa Monica. Free.


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