Over the last few months, I’ve been collecting short essays, blurbs, whatever the hell you want to call them, from L.A. literary figures on their favorite L.A. Novels. I spoke with some fantastic writers — David L. Ulin, Matthew Specktor, Nick Santora, Natashia Deon — and other amazing people surrounding the book world. One of my favorite responses came from Bonnie Nadell, a literary agent in Beverly Hills who represented David Foster Wallace. She recalled working at Simon & Schuster when Less Than Zero came in as a manuscript.
So check out the full list of responses. I was blow away with the answers. Click here: 17 L.A. Literary Figures Pick Their Favorite L.A. Novels. Oh, and by the way, my favorite L.A. novel is Ask the Dust by John Fante. Followed closely by Bukowski’s Post Office and Chandler’s The Long Goodbye.
On Saturday at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, The Rattling Wall had a celebration to release Issue 3. David L. Ulin, James Meetze, Jillian Lauren, Angel Nafis, and others read at the Masonic Temple to a packed crowd. Michelle Meyering hosted the event from a desk on the stage.
Ulin and Nafis were my favorite readers. Nafis has such a great reading style, and her poem (the one that ended each line with the word black) was a knock out. She concluded the night. Here’s a video of Nafis:
Plus, there was this great video beforehand about the making of The Rattling Wall. Michelle talked a lot about the softball tournament I helped organized back in the summer. She also wrote about the game in the introduction to the book. Michelle writes that during that softball tournament, she realized that she had created a home in Los Angeles by creating The Rattling Wall. It’s a pretty powerful intro and sets up the whole theme of home for the issue.
I was lucky enough to have my poem, “Chinatown,” published in the book. And it’s right next to Ulin’s piece, which is pretty bad ass. Joyce Carol Oates is in the book, too. Plus, there are these awesome illustrations by Ben Tegel in the book. They were displayed during the event, and when people were reading, I found myself laughing out loud…lol.
Well, at one point during the night, Michelle asked the contributors to stand up. That’s when I stood up out of the crowd with all the other writers, and I felt incredibly proud and humbled at the same time. This is really one of my most significant publications to date for my poetry, and it’s an incredible start. And I felt a part of Los Angeles, too — even being some kid from Clinton, Mass.
So, it’s going to be a big week. Finishing up a piece at Pacific Standard. Just got the edits back. And then I’m working on a draft for a piece on Kerouac. I had a pitch accepted at an amazing publication. Just don’t want to jinx myself yet. Talk is cheap. Writing is real. But can still be cheap. Goodnight everyone!
After a few weeks of interviewing and researching, my piece on Joseph Mattson’s Empty the Sun went live today. It was an amazing experience, writing and revising the piece. It started out as a smaller story, and it grew over time. During the process, I learned a ton about L.A. and writing.
For the piece, I interviewed David Ulin and Jerry Stahl. Interviewing Ulin proved to be incredible, because he’s so knowledgeable about L.A. novels. He talked about Bukowski, West, Fante, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and others. He seems like a pretty good guy, too. It was an amazing experience. I talked to Joe Donnelly and other great writers, too, about Mattson. It was awesome to be a part of the conversation.
I first met Joseph Mattson at Book Soup, when I was volunteering with Slake. They sent me on all these interviews to book stores in Los Angeles, and Book Soup was my first stop. I interviewed Tosh Berman and Mattson. The pieces never made it out into the public, but it proved to be a great experience. After the interview, Mattson handed me his book, Empty the Sun. That was the first time I heard about the novel. I loved it. The book reminded me of all the great qualities of the novels I loved: “Post Office” and “Ask the Dust.” (I was conducting all these interviews while I was working full time in Woodland Hills at the rehab center.)
It’s strange, because I’m learning to love Southern California more all the time, because there is an incredible literary scene out here. You’ve got The Rattling Wall, Slake, Black Clock, Red Hen Press, Les Figues Press, A Barnacle Book, etc. While I’m not sure, yet, if California is my home, it’s clear there is a lot of excitement here. As if the city is always on the verge of something big — whether it be an earthquake or a cultural movement.
Okay, I’m going to head out on a run with my dog, Hendrix. But it’s been a good week so far. This Friday, I’m going to review the Coheed and Cambria show at Fingerprints in Long Beach, and then Saturday, I’m going to head over to Dirty Laundry Lit. Oh, I think I might have found some more work with another pub out here. Which is all great news. Just need to figure out how to make writing a sustainable life, while keeping my soul. Hope you’ll stay posted.