Books: Loving libraries, now more than ever

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All eyes turned to Washington this week as America elected Donald Trump to be our next president.

THE BIG STORY

Critic at Large David Kipen is a former Beltway denizen — he was the director of literature at the NEA — and he shares his thoughts about the president-elect and an American institution: the public library.

Libraries, like this one in downtown L.A., are part of the nation’s intellectual infrastructure. (Jay Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

ZADIE SMITH’S TOUR DE FORCE

“If ever a novel conjured a sound and dance track, it is ‘Swing Time,’ a multilayered tour-de-force from Zadie Smith. She begins with an epigram from northern Nigeria: ‘When the music changes, so does the dance.’ ” That’s how Karen Long begins our review of “Swing Time,” the new novel from literary star Smith.

A POETIC DISCOVERY

Paisley Rekdal’s fifth collection of poems, “Imaginary Vessels,” is out from Copper Canyon Press, and Craig Morgan Teicher tells us in his review that it should be the breakthrough book for a gifted poet on the verge.

SHINING SHORT FICTIONS

Anne Raeff just won the Flannery O’Connor Award for short fiction; Dana Johnson, who teaches at USC, won it more than a decade ago. Raeff’s collection “The Jungle Around Us” is about displacement, its characters fleeing, in one way or another. Johnson’s new book “In the Not Quite Dark” is more grounded; its stories are set in and around the Pacific Electric Building in downtown Los Angeles, dealing head-on with issues of gentrification and race. Read about them here.

BESTSELLERS

Feel like putting on “Pet Sounds”? Maybe it’s time to break out the old vinyl (or CD, or digital music file) while reading Brian Wilson’s memoir, “I Am Brian Wilson,” which returns to our nonfiction bestseller list this week.

If the cheerful sounds of the Beach Boys aren’t your thing, perhaps you should get tickets to see Johnny Marr on Nov. 16 at the Vista Theater. The Smiths guitarist, who created some of the most addictively plaintive riffs of the ’80s, isn’t scheduled to play music — he’ll be talking about his memoir, “Set the Boy Free,” with KCRW’s Jason Bentley. Tickets, available through Skylight Books, are $35.

WORD FROM A YOUNG FEMINIST

We talked with Sarah Pappalardo and Beth Newell — the founders of Reductress, which has been called “a feminist Onion” — about their new book, “How to Win at Feminism.” Newell told us, “Satire is a more cathartic, palatable way of getting the news you already get — it doesn’t necessarily change any minds. The only place where I could see satire really affecting change is when it comes to young people who are just entering the political conversation and trying to educate themselves about the forces at play.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

I’m the book editor of the L.A. Times, and I’d like to hear your thoughts about the newsletter; email me at Carolyn.Kellogg@latimes.com.