How to watch bestselling author Luis Alberto Urrea at the L.A. Times Book Club

Share via

Bestselling author Luis Alberto Urrea joined the L.A. Times Book Club on July 19 to discuss “Good Night, Irene,” a novel inspired by his mother’s service with the Red Cross “Donut Dollies” during World War II.

Urea was in conversation with Times assistant managing editor Iliana Limon Romero. This book club night also features a special appearance by Seattle librarian, author and literary critic Nancy Pearl, the only librarian with her own action figure.

You can watch the conversation on YouTube.

Urrea spent more than a decade researching “Good Night, Irene,” a story of friendship, service and the unheralded women who rumbled into combat in massive Clubmobile trucks fitted with coffee machines and doughnut makers.

Phyllis McLaughlin de Urrea with fellow Red Cross volunteers
From left: Phyllis McLaughlin de Urrea with fellow Red Cross volunteers Jill Pitts Knappenberger and Helen Anderson with WWII Clubmobile.
(Courtesy of Luis Alberto Urrea)

The novel’s heroine, Irene Woodward, a blue-blooded New Yorker fleeing a soured engagement, stands in for Urrea’s mom, Phyliss, who came from a similar background.

“My mother was a collection of contradictions and secrets I was trying to puzzle through,” Urrea says. “I knew I would have no peace until I could answer the questions for myself. I kept her journals and scrapbooks on my desk and her portrait on the stairwell. Every day she called to me.”

Phyllis McLaughlin de Urrea served as a Red Cross volunteer with the "Donut Dollies."
Phyllis McLaughlin de Urrea served as a Red Cross volunteer during World War II in a group nicknamed the “Donut Dollies.”
(Courtesy of Luis Alberto Urrea)

The author of 17 novels and nonfiction books, Urrea’s previous books include “The Devil’s Highway” and “The House of Broken Angels.”

“Good Night, Irene” is the L.A. Times Book Club’s July selection.

In August, we’re reading “Better Living Through Birding: Notes From a Black Man in the Natural World” by Christian Cooper, who also hosts the new “Extraordinary Birder” series on Disney+. Get tickets.

Join us: If you enjoy our community book club, subscribe to the free L.A. Times Book Club newsletter for the latest reads, discussions, giveaways and live events. You can support the book club through new Times Community Fund.