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

October 20, 2010 | by

DAY ONE

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 »

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