by James Greer
This week in Los Angeles there occurred (and as I type this is still occurring, though not for a few hours yet) a book festival called the Los Angeles Time Festival of Books. It’s a compete clusterfuck, but people seem to enjoy it. Last year I went for the first time. I sat at the Book Soup table and signed copies of The Failure for an hour with Stephen Elliott, author of a bunch of books and editor of a website called The Rumpus. Nice guy.
This year my publisher at Akashic Books, Johnny Temple, and his Managing Editor Johanna Ingalls flew in from New York (actually Johanna lives in Ireland, but that’s a long story) for the festival. On Wednesday, there was a reading at Book Soup featuring: Joseph Mattson, author of Empty The Sun, with whom I have conducted about eleventy-seven readings on both coasts of the United States for what seems like the last several years of my life; Nina Revoyr, author of Wingshooters, a very fine and finely-written novel; and Nathan Larson, author of The Dewey Decimal System. Nathan’s maybe (maybe) better known as a film composer and former member of Shudder To Think, but his book is brilliant. You should buy all three of these books. I did. (Well, I didn’t buy Joseph’s book, because I already own it. But you take my point.) While it would be impractical to suggest that you buy these books at Book Soup if you don’t live in LA, I hope you will consider patronizing your own local independent book store, rather than, say, Amazon, because these serve as much more than mere booksellers. They are, to me at least, sort of like shelter from the storm, if you imagine the unlettered world as a storm. Especially in Los Angeles, which despite a recent surge of literary activity that threatens to deface the city’s reputation as a black hole of culture, has not historically been known for its bookishness.
The photo above is my attempt to take a picture of Nathan reading from his novel at Book Soup, using my phone as a camera. Some people are very good at this. I am not one of those people. Afterwards we all went out to a nearby bar which shall remain nameless because of its impressive awfulness, and ate something unidentifiable, while Nathan and his old bandmate Craig Wedren and I swapped mid-90s rock stories. I will not trouble you with these. You’re welcome.