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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 10, 2010 | By Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times
Standing outside a bookstore on 8th Street a decade ago, novelist Susan Straight looked across the street and saw a vision of Los Angeles loneliness. Men clustered around a black door, surrounded by a wall of black tile. They filled the dark, narrow space inside, reeking of cheap liquor and hurt. "It was just the saddest place I'd ever seen," Straight told me as we stood outside the Golden Gopher bar this week. "There was this lingering melancholy all around this block. You could just smell the desperation of all these men. " These days the Golden Gopher is a hip hangout whose patrons include guys in suits.
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ENTERTAINMENT
December 15, 2011 | By Jessica Gelt, Los Angeles Times
Life is just a long string of memories. Even our present is being pushed each second into the past. Peter Orner uses that fact to engaging effect in his new novel, "Love and Shame and Love. " The book tells the story of a young man named Alexander Popper and his family strictly through anamnesis' ethereal prism. Each chapter is a solitary memory, dusted off and glowing with latent emotional residue. It's a nontraditional storytelling device that results in a book of brief chapters, sometimes no more than a paragraph, each of which could easily stand on its own. The story jumps back and forth - like memory itself - between early family history and fairly recent recollections.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 19, 2012 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
Back to Blood A Novel Tom Wolfe Little, Brown: 704 pp., $30 About a quarter of the way through Tom Wolfe's new novel, "Back to Blood," pornography addiction specialist Dr. Norman Lewis waits with his nurse (and mistress) Magdelena Otero to be interviewed by a "60 Minutes" crew. Norman is delirious at the prospect of his star turn - so much so that he becomes a bit, er, overstimulated. "' Now - while they're at the door!' " he grunts at Magdalena, who responds, " 'No, Norman!
ENTERTAINMENT
September 19, 2013 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
When Stephen King published his third novel, "The Shining," in 1977, he was a writer with a lot on his mind. Initially, he told The Times in 1998, he conceived of the book as "a Shakespearean tragedy, a kind of inside-out 'King Lear,' where Lear is this young guy who has a son instead of daughters. " He even went so far as to divide the first draft into acts and scenes. Make of this what you will, but it suggests that King has always had more at stake than merely to frighten us, that he wants to get at the big themes: love, loss, loyalty, what happens between parents and their kids.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 4, 2014 | By Carolyn Kellogg
Meyer Lansky is one of the gravitational centers of Zachary Lazar's new novel, "I Pity the Poor Immigrant" (Little, Brown and Company: 256 pp., $25). Not so much the dapper, "Boardwalk Empire"-era gangster as Lansky in 1972 in Israel, seeking to retire there under the country's Law of Return. It's hardly the most celebrated era in Lansky's life, but Lazar was going for something other than the obvious. "The initial idea of this book was to put Meyer Lansky in the same room as King David from the Bible," Lazar said via Skype from his home office in New Orleans.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 15, 2013 | By Nicole Sperling
With "The Da Vinci Code" author Dan Brown's news Tuesday morning that he would be releasing a new Robert Langdon adventure in May, we thought it wise to check in with the movie prospects for Brown's last Langdon tale, "The Lost Symbol," which resided on the New York Times hard-cover fiction bestseller list for 29 weeks and has 30 million copies in print worldwide. Sony's Columbia Pictures, which released the previous two films, "The DaVinci Code" and "Angels and Demons," owns the option to all of Brown's future projects involving Langdon, including "The Lost Symbol" and the upcoming "Inferno.
ENTERTAINMENT
September 7, 2010 | By Scott Martelle, Special to the Los Angeles Times
Sara Gruen has carved out a nice little niche for herself novelizing the nexus of humans and the rest of the animal world. She did it most effectively with her 2006 bestseller "Water for Elephants," which used a Depression-era traveling circus as the vehicle to explore a cast of engaging eccentrics — a tale being filmed for the big screen for next year. The strength of that novel grew from Gruen's imaginative blending of human impulses, good and bad, and her re-creation of a specific point in time.
ENTERTAINMENT
June 20, 2013 | Lydia Millet
Tao Lin's new novel, "Taipei," is more obviously autobiographical than previous efforts - about a young, male, Asian American New York urbanite and social-media compulsive paralyzed by a robot-ennui style of depression. Lin has energetically cultivated a reputation as a shameless self-promoter and boutique literary writer whom hipsters and Internet art-lit culturists call "controversial" and love to hate; comparisons to Bret Easton Ellis abound, and rightly, since Lin writes in part about a privileged, dissipated youth drug subculture and aims for an amoral, affectless voice designed to shock.
ENTERTAINMENT
August 19, 2012 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
Hostage A Novel Elie Wiesel, translated from the French by Catherine Temerson Alfred A. Knopf: 214 pp., $25.95 It's hard to read Elie Wiesel's new novel, "Hostage," without thinking about his classic Holocaust recollection, "Night. " That's partly because both deal with captivity, and even more with questions of faith and identity and our place in the universe, at a moment when such elements appear to have been rendered moot. But even more, "Hostage," like "Night," begs the question of how we read it - of the type of document it is. In the case of the earlier book, that tension (and it is very much a tension)
ENTERTAINMENT
May 31, 2013 | By Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times
Friends are dress shopping in the novel "Americanah"; when they get to the register, the cashier asks which of two saleswomen helped them, but they're not sure. She lists numerous physical characteristics to identify the salesperson before giving up. "Why didn't she just ask 'Was it the black girl or the white girl?'" the main character, Ifemelu, exclaims after they leave. "Because this is America," her friend tells her. "You're supposed to pretend that you don't notice certain things.
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