The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Book Soup’

A Week in Culture: Carolyn Kellogg, Part 2

October 21, 2010 | by

This is the second installment of Kellogg’s culture diary. Click here to read the first.


7:00 A.M. I wake up to finish Bound by Antonya Nelson, and then spend the rest of the day running errands, sorting through books that have arrived, and trying to wrap my head around what to say in my review. It’s due Monday and runs next Sunday.


1:00 P.M. It’s back to Book Soup, this time for my friend Cecil Castellucci’s midday reading from her young-adult novel Rose Sees Red. I give Cecil a ride to the airport—she’s off to Wordstock in Portland—and head right back to Book Soup. There are plenty of other places to go for readings and signings in Los Angeles, I swear, but it’s become Book Soup week. This time, Lorin Stein talks to a full house about The Paris Review with David L. Ulin. Nobody gets punched in the nose.


6:00 A.M. Up and trying to finish the Bound review and blog at the same time. Coffee helps.

5:00 P.M. Leave the paper to drive the hour-plus to UCLA for the Look at This F*ing Panel: A Sociological Discussion on the Hipster, a follow-up to one held last year in New York. The audience, mostly students, is not overly hipsterized, except for the proliferation of crocheted hats, which can only be an unfortunate fashion statement on an eighty-degree day.


6:00 A.M. Writing up the hipster panel for Jacket Copy, Tao Lin and his fans in the audience look good, and my admiration for Gavin McInnes, shirtless and full of counterintuitive interruptions is too subtle. Alas, McInnes, a cofounder of Vice Magazine, later tweets that my review is “wimpy,” which I tell myself is marginally better than “boring,” his other critique.

11:30 A.M. At my desk at the paper, trying to sort out ongoing login problems and prepping for the Man Booker Prize announcement. There are people in London gathered at a gala event; me, I’m frustrated that the BBC, which is broadcasting it, isn’t making the stream available in the U.S. Luckily, someone tweets a version of the feed I can see. It’s jittery, a hack I think, but it does the trick. Read More »


A Week in Culture: Carolyn Kellogg, Book Reporter and Blogger

October 20, 2010 | by


6:15 A.M. After the heat wave of late September, Los Angeles is experiencing a cold and rainy snap. I’m discovering that my new apartment, which is big enough for lots of books, is also drafty and uninsulated in the special way of LA buildings from the 1920s. So when I wake up, staying in bed seems like a very good idea; I read about eighty pages of Antonya Nelson’s Bound before forcing myself up, into the day. I wasn’t sure about the book at first—it’s a little slow to start—but I was very sorry to have to put it down. I leave it on my bedside table.

9:00 A.M. I’m up and blogging about a poetry festival I won’t go to, because it’s tomorrow, and three thousand miles away.

11:00 A.M. I get an invitation to moderate a conversation between Dennis Lehane and Tom Franklin. Hell, yes! I’ve moderated panels and done some onstage interviews—Richard Russo, James Ellroy, John Waters—and what I love is the possibility for serendipity and detour, the moment that could only have evolved from that particular strand of conversation. I saw Lehane at the Brooklyn Book Festival; he’s smart and funny onstage, fast. And I liked the beginning of Tom Franklin’s book, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, which I stopped reading because someone else was reviewing it. My first thought is all the reading I’ll get to do to prep for the discussion. My second thought is, What will I wear? Because scooting into a high director’s chair in a dress can be tricky.

6:00 P.M. After several hours at the office, I head to Book Soup to see Ben Greenman read from Celebrity Chekhov. Book Soup is one of LA’s major independent bookstores, right on the Sunset Strip, with bookshelves crammed under high ceilings and a robust selection of literary fiction and art/film books; they don't waste much room on pap. It also has a strange, L-shaped reading area. The author stands in a corner, with ten chairs in front of him, in five rows of two; off to his right, a similar setup. Ben does fine; no celebrities have shown up to protest the Chekhovian inner lives he’s given them. Afterward I try to prove to him that LA is not weird and drag him to Musso & Frank for a drink. In the spirit of his book, we riff on rock-star corollaries of contemporary writers: William T. Vollmann = Sonic Youth, David Foster Wallace = Kurt Cobain. Ben isn’t satisfied with my Bono counterpart, Dave Eggers. Suggestions are welcome. Read More »


A Week in Culture: Chris Weitz, Director, Part 2

October 7, 2010 | by

This is the second installment of Weitz’s culture diary. Click here to read part 2.

Photograph by Summit Entertainment.


The Times reports a boardroom struggle at Barnes and Noble. I have little sympathy for the big book chains, as they have played such havoc with the independent book market. Los Angeles, contrary to popular prejudice, used to be a great bookstore town; there was Midnight Special1 on Third Street and the late, much mourned Dutton’s, which used to be my favorite bookstore in the world, not least because it was arrayed in three different buildings around a courtyard, and no one thought twice if you exited one building with a pile of books under your arm without paying, because you were on your way to a different department. That sort of expectation of civility is lacking these days2. Nowadays Book Soup seems to be the only holdout3 in the city, and they have recently been acquired by Vroman’s, the Pasadena independent. Most of all, I lay a curse upon Borders, who sucked up masses of customers by convincing people that bookstores were social venues with DVDs and coffee bars, and then imploded spectacularly, having put dozens of mom-and-pop places out of business.

Part of the blame goes to Amazon, of course, which means part of the blame goes to me4. Still, I comfort myself with this thought: Books sold in actual space, even books on actual paper, may die off5; but the instant accessibility of books, the lower cost, the preposterous speed of acquisition, may lead to a more ready consumer. I buy more books because I have a Kindle, and because they cost less, I am more willing to take a flier on a book that I might otherwise not lumber myself with.

In the meanwhile however let me recommend Heywood Hill on Curson Street in London. Among other things, they are fantastic at locating hard-to-find volumes, and when the third volume of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy was unavailable in the States they were more than willing to send it to me. But if you happen to be in the area you can stop by for events, such as when Deborah, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire was at the shop to sign copies of her eagerly awaited memoirs Wait for Me! The Memoirs of the Youngest Mitford Sister.” My editor, Pete, tells me that the Mitford sisters would spread jam on their butler’s head to attract wasps away from them. I hope this is apocryphal.

On the way home from work, I listened to the Disinformation podcast, a bunch of clever Southern misfits covering the occult, conspiracy, and esoteric beat. This time it was an interview with occult historian Gary Lachman, who also happens to have been one of the founding members of the band Blondie.

In bed tonight, Mad Men seemed a little too much of a harsh toke so we took it easy on ourselves with The Mighty Boosh, the absurdist British comedy. I had the pleasure of meeting one of its contributors, Richard Ayoade, familiar to a select few as Dean Learner from Garth Marengi’s Darkplace (can’t explain, just watch it). Richard’s first feature, Submarine, just premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and was picked up6 for distribution by the Weinstein brothers.

Still concerned with a cryptic statement of Heraclitus as reported in Anthony Gottleib’s The Dream of Reason. He minted some real Hall of Famers, like “Character is destiny” and “You can’t step in the same river twice,” but he was also responsible for this one: “Death is all things we see awake. All we see asleep is sleep.” Will sleep on it. Read More »


  1. Now, I believe, a Puma store.
  2. I also miss the redoubtable Scotty, who seemed to have read everything.
  3. I’m sorry, I don’t count Diesel; they are largely decorative.
  4. I even found myself, on an early morning in London the other day when Simpson’s of Piccadilly (now part of the Waterstone’s chain) was closed, ogling items in their window and searching for them on my iPad. Simpson’s lost a sale simply by being closed.
  5. I can remember from my days working at a bookshop that much of the business of staying in business consists of hiring a staff that can actually locate the books people are looking for; losing the sale of a book that’s in stock is a sort of tragedy for a bookstore. But no human being can beat a search algorithm.
  6. Congratulations and the very best of luck, Richard!


The Whistle-stop Tour Hits the West Coast

October 6, 2010 | by

Photograph by Alain Picard.

Catch Lorin Stein in the Golden State this week, at three events.

Tonight: San Francisco
The venerable City Lights hosts a conversation between Stein and Oscar Villalon, former book critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, as part of the city's LitQuake festival. The fun starts at 7 P.M., at 261 Columbus Avenue.

Tomorrow: Claremont
Stein joins Aaron Matz, Scripps English professor and the author, most recently, of Satire in an Age of Realism, to talk literature and publishing in the Internet age. The conversation begins at 4:15 P.M. at Scripps College, 1030 Columbia Avenue, and is open to the public.

Saturday: Los Angeles
The final stop on the whistle-stop tour and an event not to be missed. Stein and Los Angeles Times book critic David Ulin discuss the role of a literary journal in the era of constant distraction. Get to Book Soup, 8818 West Sunset Boulevard, early. The conversation starts at 5 P.M.