American Artists Los Angeles Times Writers and Writing

High on Books – UPDATED


UPDATE: For those of you who didn’t get to go to the Festival, reading my pal Tod Goldberg’s Festival of Books Primer is almost as good, wa-a-a-ay funnier, and doesn’t require either driving time or sunscreen.

Yesterday was glorious.
Today is likely to be more glorious still. (If you live in LA, you still have time to get over there. Or tune in right this minute to hear good stuff like blogfather Marc Cooper moderating a panel on C-SPAN Books)


My panel, moderated by Jill Leovy (The Homocide Report),
with Miles Corwin and brand new author Dashaun Morris, in which we talked about literature based on stories from the streets, could have easily gone twice its length judging by the enthusiasm of the questioners from the audience. (The photo above of me is with Dashaun and his brother, and clearly I look very cheered up by being flanked by two handsome, smart guys.) Dashaun is a former gang member who, after prison, transformed himself into a man with a great deal of worth to say to those trying to understand the problem of gang violence and how to solve it.

But the day was filled with a plethora of terrific panels and author talks, and thousands and thousands of men, women and children who come together at this event—all for the love of books.

Some of the panel and talks I most enjoyed were:

1. Dialogue-wizard Richard Price talking about his new novel Lush Life, a beautifully constructed and fabulously entertaining book that I’m betting will be up for multiple book awards this time next year.

2. The amazing Maxine Hong Kingston in conversation
with my good pal LA Times Book Editor David Ulin, a wonderfully inspiring hour of talk about writing as a form of activism and how to convey the complexity of human experience through the interweave of truth and myth.

3. Mega-popular mystery writer Michael Connelly (LAPD Chief Bill Bratton’s favorite crime novelist) interviewing police procedural master Joe Wambaugh
about his new novel, Hollywood Crows. Wambaugh entertained the adoring, packed-to-the-rafters crowd with his wild and woolly tales of the art of getting great stories out of cops, and the perils of getting Hollywood actors to do nude scenes. (Wambaugh himself in part produced the movie of his classic true crime bookThe Onion Field.)

So rush over now…..or watch it on C-Span Books, ….or buy the recordings of the panels and talks you wish you could have seen…..or just go out and have fun reading.

Books make the world a better place to be.


  • Indeed they do! Excellent post, Celeste. I can remember growing up in Miami and my favorite day of the week was when the bookmobile set up in the parking lot of the strip mall near where I lived.

    As for Wambaugh, I loved his fiction, but no book of his got to me more than The Onion Field.

  • Is Tod Goldberg capable of humor without using foul language? Good comedians, particularly those in the past, could create laughs without being crude.

  • I think the important distinction, Woody, is that I’m not a comedian. The other is that I’m not from the past. I’m actually from the future. I wear silver jumpsuits and have a robot friend and I’ve come through a portal in the space time continuum to warn the world of a coming invasion of fucktards. My work, clearly, is not over.

  • Hey, I can write speeches for the Democrats. I only need phrases like: …for the children, greedy corporations, working families, sacrifice for the overall good, raise taxes on the rich, we lost in Iraq, we support the troops (heh), free passes on mortgages, keep the abortions coming, illegals deserve the same rights as citizens, save the Earth, China is our friend and major contributor, we’ll appoint ACLU-loving judges, tax money for perverted artists, more government programs, trust the U.N., health care of everyone and worse health care for those who already have it, we’ll reduce gas prices (Oh, wait. That was a 2006 promise), let felons vote, NAFTA is good/bad–you choose, we want the world and especially the French to like us, Bill Clinton for Supreme Court, the U.S. is to blame for everything, every vote counts…and counts…and counts, and make flag pins illegal.

  • Just got back to my computer. But I read this thread on my blackberry a bit earlier, which meant I was laughing out loud in a downtown LA parking lot after dark, (without any apparent motivation) which never looks good.

    (Hi Tod!)

  • You’ll be happy to know, Woody, that I have received your tax dollars for my perverted art…and that I lost about $500 playing craps with John McCain once in Las Vegas, too. And that I have a signed copy of his firt book. And he has a signed copy of my first, too. And, really, think about it: If we keep the abortions on a steady train, you won’t have to worry about any more liberals polluting the world. The downside is that mullets will come back in full force and you won’t be able to find anything to watch on television.

  • Gosh, Tod, wouldn’t anyone buy your art work in the private market? It just goes to prove that the NEA is just welfare for bad artists. And, your gambling tale just goes to show that a fool and his money are soon parted. Maybe I can send you a signed copy of my book, which was only used in classrooms and is all about accounting and taxes, but how could accounting be any more boring than, say, “Women of Slipstream” or “Smile: Is Happiness Overrated?” at the book festival?

    Mullets? Mullets are fish that we toss in distance contests down here. Who do you think had the most fun last weekend – the folks wandering around the LA Times festival listening to a bunch of liberal pseudo-intellectuals or regular folks having a beach party throwing fish?
    24th annual Flora-Bama Interstate Mullet Toss and Gulf Coast’s Greatest Beach Party

    BTW, look at that picture above of Richard Price. What a party animal he must be. Why, he looks as if he’s boring himself to sleep.

    I’ll be fine with television as long as there are sporting events and re-runs of The Andy Griffth Show and Green Acres.

  • Everyone knows that Green Acres was run by a bunch of Commies. I’m frightfully concerned that these old reruns might turn you red. And sports are a liberal ploy to get kids to wear their pants beneath the belt line. Football, as everyone knows, was created by Chairman Mao. Baseball is funded by the ACLU. Professional Bull Riding is responsible for more abortions than any other line of work. Basketball is anti-Jesus and, in fact, believes that Adam and Eve was a typo, that Eve was actually Evan and that the first people were actually gay men and that we are all, therefore, originally gay. It’s in all the NBA press materials. Check it out when you get the chance. And taxes are a tool of the Masons used to get us in line with the new world order. And Richard Price? One of his books was made into a movie by Spike Lee, which means he hates America, which means Celeste hates America, which means, by virtue of simple algebra, that you, Woody, hate America.

    (I gotta tell you, Celeste, I need to get more conservatives on my blog…they are fun to talk to!)

  • Which all goes to show how screwed up is the thinking process of liberals. Are you wearing your flag pin today?

    The closest sports team to commies is the Atlanta Braves via its connection with Ted Turner and Jane Fonda.

    I gotta tell you, Celeste, I need to get more conservatives on my blog….
    I’m sure that most days that Celeste would be more than willing to have me switch over to your blog and away from hers. Maybe this is a plot by her to accomplish that.

  • Hearing a book is different than reading a book. It’s also enjoying it with your whole community around you. New author name’s Vahid Razavi introduce a new book The Age Of Nepotism at Los Angeles Times festival of books. If you were around, you should come to us, our booth number in UCLA is 683 Zone F. You may read the funny parts and see many interesting things. See you!

    About the book:
    Culture can be viewed as a phenomena relating to each country or a region individually. A lot of theories talk about culture being predetermined and we all have a certain elements of our own culture implemented on some unconscious level. But the thing is that different cultures are more and more being viewed through a needs of global society that tends to marginalize small or in any way different or set back cultures usually referred to as uncivilized. Some of those cultures are placed in the hart of Europe, some in Africa, others in Middle East, but the fact is that our intolerance to different cultures is growing each day we choose to be concentrated on what is set as a cultural model by the mighty western societies. Difference is what makes this world so colorful, and finding similarities between the people of different nationality, religion and culture is a way to make connections to the rest of the world. In addition to this, I found an exciting reading called The Age of Nepotism that talks about different cultures and the ways to connect with others. You should check it out, as well as the site

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