Joan Didion and more: 5 L.A. book talks this week

In "Dreamers and Schemers," author Barry Siegel looks at how L.A. won the1932 Olympic Games. Here's a scene from the opening ceremony, held at the Coliseum in Los Angeles.
In “Dreamers and Schemers,” author Barry Siegel looks at how L.A. won the 1932 Olympic Games. Here’s a scene from the opening ceremony, held at the Coliseum in Los Angeles.

It’s a good week for readers with a taste for L.A. lore, with book talks slated on Joan Didion’s most iconic work, Chinese American film history and the inside story of the city’s first Olympic bid.

Here’s the rundown for the week ahead:

Brilliance in brevity

Sarah Manguso’s “300 Arguments,” a work of aphoristic nonfiction, is a slim volume that packs a punch. (Examples of entries include unsettling quips like “inner beauty can fade, too” and “horror is terror that stayed the night.”) Manguso, whose other books include “Ongoingness: The End of a Diary” and “The Two Kinds of Decay” will read at USC’s Taper Hall on Tuesday afternoon.

4:30 p.m. Tuesday. Taper Hall, 3501 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles. Free.


Revisiting Joan Didion

Is there any author that feels more quintessentially California-cool than Didion? Her impact on our narrative identity seems unmatched, especially when considering iconic books like “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” “The White Album” and “Play It as It Lays,” all of which are collected in the Library of America’s new anthology “Joan Didion: The 1960s & 70s.” Alta Magazine books editor (and former Times book critic) David Ulin, who edited the anthology, will discuss Didion’s work and impact in a Tuesday conversation with Alta editor at large Mary Melton.

7 p.m. Tuesday. Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. Free.

The best kind of reading

Local author Liska Jacobs celebrates her sophomore novel, “The Worst Kind of Want,” with a prosecco and biscotti party on the Sunset Strip. Jacob’s debut, “Catalina,” served up California noir with a feminist twist; set in Italy, “The Worst Kind Want” takes a gimlet-eyed view of one woman’s lust, envy and desire. Jacobs will be joined in conversation by author Janelle Brown.

7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. Free.


Film history

Arthur Dong, author of “Hollywood Chinese: The Chinese in American Feature Films,” will lead a guided tour of Chinese American film history at the Hollywood Heritage Museum on Wednesday. From early films set in American Chinatowns to “Crazy Rich Asians,” which featured an all-Asian cast and was based on the popular Kevin Kwan novel, Dong will discuss the evolution of the industry. This event is hosted by Hollywood Heritage and the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.; a book signing will follow the presentation.

7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Hollywood Heritage Museum, 2100 N. Highland Ave.; Hollywood. $15.

Olympic reading

With the Summer Olympics on the horizon for Los Angeles in 2028, “Dreamers and Schemers: How an Improbable Bid for the 1932 Olympics Transformed Los Angeles from Dusty Outpost to Global Metropolis” feels like necessary reading. Penned by former Times national correspondent and Pulitzer Prize winner Barry Siegel, the book looks at the power broker who spearheaded the 1932 bid. Siegel plumbs “with care and fondness the extent to which one man could overcome so many obstacles to do something epic, successful and with wide-ranging consequences for both a city and a worldwide athletic contest,” writes Nathan Deuel in The Times. Siegel discusses the book on Thursday.

7 p.m. Thursday. Pages a Bookstore, 904 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach. Free.


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