In turning 40 on Yom Kippur, a week after the 30th anniversary of her mother’s death, writer and musician Solvej Schou reflects on grieving endings and celebrating new beginnings—and freeing herself to own her life.
In her acclaimed debut novel, CATALINA, Liska Jacobs takes us into the tortured mind of Elsa Fisher as she retreats to Los Angeles, jobless after an intense affair in the heart of Manhattan’s art world. A journey of drinking, destruction and discovery follows as Elsa unravels in a seeming paradise: Catalina Island. An excerpt from the perfect beach (or island) read for hot summer days and nights, and a revealing Q&A between AFLW’s Jian Huang and the author on the evergreen question of New York vs. L.A. and, as a native Angeleno, how the character of Los Angeles as place influences her writing.
In Jessica Shoemaker’s “Mia Is Going to Mars,” Mia has survivor’s guilt. She wants to make good. But what’s lined up against her stands firm.
In “Panels,” inspired by small oil portraits on wood, Jonathan Blum sketches glimpses of people from diverse backgrounds, capturing the essence of lives lived.
We begin National Poetry Month with a searing poem written for and read by Shonda Buchanan at our Black Resistance in the Time of Trump event. Her lyrical opening, which she sang, took our breath away and made the room sacred. Her words, full of pain and rage and the truth.
In THE LAST TO SEE ME, M. Dressler blurs the boundaries between the living and the dead, showing us that otherness is a matter of not seeing and not knowing how to communicate, and that evil resides not either in the world of ghosts or men, but in one’s own heart. An excerpt and fascinating conversation between AFLW fiction editor Shilpa Agarwal and the author, on the heels of her winning this year’s $10,000 Book Pipeline Award book-to-film project for the novel.
In TRIPLE CROSS KILLER, crime writer Rosemarie Aquilina, who recently made headlines in the courtroom for her historic judgment for survivor rights, takes us into the dark, shadowy life of a serial killer and those who hunt him out. We are honored to feature an excerpt from the book and a conversation between AFLW fiction editor Shilpa Agarwal and Judge Aquilina, in which she speaks about what inspired her to write her novel focused on children, voice and power, and her vision for creating real change in society.
In her new memoir, CUZ: The Life and Times of Michael A., Danielle Allen, a distinguished classicist and political scientist, director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University and Washington Post Opinion columnist, writes with sensitivity and candor about the tragic death of her younger, African-American cousin Michael after his release from a prison sentence that began when he was just 15 years old, and the pressing need for reform of mass incarceration in the United States.
Deanne Stillman’s latest, acclaimed book, “Blood Brothers: The Story of the Strange Friendship between Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill,” gives an unexpected view into white America’s troubled relationship with its native population. Learn more about this fascinating story, with lessons from the past that impact current issues, in an excerpt and Q&A with the author.
An achingly honest account of one woman’s quest to reconnect with her body post-divorce explores the ways in which relationships mentally and physically shape us.
In BEGIN WITH A FAILED BODY, winner of the 2016 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, poet and professor Natalie Graham considers the wounded self trapped between poverty and memory.
Working long hours in an upscale Beverly Hills restaurant, a single, white mother in her 50s and a young Latino cook form an unlikely friendship to protect their jobs, never realizing how essential their bond is until one of them faces an unimaginable tragedy.
In “The Art of Misdiagnosis,” Gayle Brandeis probes the mysteries surrounding her mother’s suicide, artfully weaving letters, research and documentary transcripts throughout the narrative. An excerpt and Q&A between the author and AFLW creative nonfiction editor, Marnie Goodfriend, on letters never sent, truth seeking, and loving our parents, flaws and all.
In his new, bestselling book, “More Beautiful Than Before,” Rabbi Steve Leder offers wisdom gleaned from his years in service to others, and from moving through his own pain. For the holidays, he shares ways to cope, survive and, even, thrive.
They met online on Skype and then in person in Chile. Their connection continued in cyberspace. A tribute to a love outside of time.
A fast, furious and hopeful response to the #MeToo hashtag activism that went viral.
“It’s a very L.A. story, surely, but you needs must own that it’s the sort of thing that could happen anywhere, to anyone.” New, fanciful fiction, a love story, by THE BLACK WATCH indie rock band founder and author John Andrew Fredrick.
“Back then, being so comfortable in my skin, strong, rebellious, someone’s hero—that person will become a stranger and then come back throughout my life. That person is me.” A rousing personal essay on survival and resistance.
Sgt. Hector Gallegos of the LAPD reads his cheap, plastic Bible backward. This is a secret, as is the holy book’s presence in his patrol car, a tool – like his gun – to combat evil. When tragedy visits his home, he understands it’s not just faith, but something more that wields the power to protect his family. New fiction set in the City of Angels.
“I said nothing while I watched life transform from several feet away. I wasn’t observing from above in a surgical theater, nor was I a terrified loved one on the other side of the solid door.” A deeply moving excerpt from Elizabeth L. Silver’s acclaimed, new memoir of medical uncertainty.
“I am still in awe of the wonders and magic of modern medicine, but I am now much more aware of its frailties.” Elizabeth L. Silver, author of THE TINCTURE OF TIME, in an emotive Q&A.
“Not yet men and women and no longer boys and girls, they may have believed in fairy tales still but wouldn’t dare confess. That summer, after the black-bristled gypsy moth caterpillars hatched, Avalon’s youth surrendered the woods reluctantly. What more was there to fear?” A beautiful yet foreboding prelude excerpt from Julia Fierro’s heralded coming-of-age novel.
Julia Fierro on how her new novel, THE GYPSY MOTH SUMMER, is an “anti-revenge revenge story” and more.
A look back at our packed salon with Annabelle Gurwitch, Heather Havrilesky, Susan Hayden, Jian Huang and Strawberry Saroyan at The Last Bookstore.
“Man cage. Man trip. The coal mine was clearly a space for men, but the salt mine didn’t feel as manly, somehow; it was more womblike, friendly, its body briny as flesh.”
“Is it possible to envision a world where, in a battle between a gun and a story, the story would win? Is that a question worth asking? Worth imagining? Worth embodying in our work and lives?”
“My father loved thin women and thick steaks.” A poignant and funny excerpt from Annabelle Gurwitch’s brilliant new memoir on family, with her larger-than-life dad playing the lead.
On the two-year anniversary of the death of Freddie Gray, after suffering police brutality, laments by Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman.
“The news wraps you in lists, trying to destroy the light of your name,
Waxing moon sliver of light—metaphor for black Baltimore boys?”
The one and only Cheryl Strayed passes on her wisdom about literature’s grand mission, the long game and the writer’s role in grim political moments.
On a precarious journey down a twisting mountain road, a singer-songwriter finds herself on a crash-course with her heart. Her husband awaits at the bottom, but the loops and turns of her life are pointing her elsewhere, a burning for change, a fiery want, a flame.
“The other day, my son asked who our king is. Normally, I would laugh — but right now it feels a little too precarious.”
“After our mother died, my three siblings and I went through all of the photos she’d left behind, separating them into stacks: Family. Friends. Men.”
Inside the dreamscape of the Hollywood sign, a love story unfolds, but as in all fairy tales, a villainess appears, and the stars begin to fall.
“Use the literature of Los Angeles as a guide. Read about Acosta’s cockroach people, Babitz’s sex and rage, Banham’s ecologies, Beatty’s white boy shuffle, Boyle’s tortilla curtain, Braverman’s frantic transmissions, Bukowski’s post office, Butler’s speech sounds and Brinig’s flutter of an eyelid.”
A look at the past, present and future as we launch our one-year anniversary issue.
Angels Flight • literary west has launched an emergency “Wall of Resistance” issue in response to the U.S. presidential election. We invite writers, artists and activists to contribute and have their voices heard.
In GENEVIEVES, Henry Hoke proves himself a master illusionist, slipping us through veils of reality to meet an echo of who we might be in our deepest selves. An excerpt from the just-released book of surreal, gender-bending fiction and a Q&A with the author.
In THE EDUCATION OF MARGOT SANCHEZ, by Lilliam Rivera, a Puerto Rican-American family does everything it can to maintain a veneer of perfection for their teenage daughter, Margot. But when she’s caught stealing money, she winds up working in her father’s South Bronx grocery store, and that’s where her education truly begins. A riveting excerpt and Q&A with the author.
In CAKE TIME, Siel Ju’s protagonist has no illusions about family or perfection. She’s left that all behind long ago. A compelling excerpt and Q&A with AFLW Fiction Editor Shilpa Agarwal.
“I’d never asked for a brother, but suddenly, there he was, and I got a Disney View Master, a plastic toy that brought a slide show to life as light shined through.”
At Angels Flight • literary west, we love being in L.A., but in this excerpt from his memoir, GUN, NEEDLE, SPOON, Patrick O’Neil tells the story of a time when he had to get out.
“Then one day, out on the yard, a giant corn-fed thug, his skin covered in swastikas, sided up to me and handed me this book: ‘Yo, ya gotta read this, bro.’” A Q&A with AFLW’s creative non-fiction editor Seth Fischer and Patrick O’Neil, author of GUN, NEEDLE, SPOON, and also a teacher, filmmaker, former roadie, former junkie, former bank robber and current badass.
“You are the interloper now, like the unwelcome snow flurry in late March, when the world wants nothing but to see the leaves and has no patience for flakes blowing across the pavement.”
For the 20th anniversary of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” poems from a collection by Lisa Cheby, inspired by the cult-popular TV show, explore grief, power and love.
“Dare me to tell you how long I’ve dreamed of you
We’re a love story written in Sanskrit and Aramaic”
“Many people ask me why I started dating a Martian and my first response is that I didn’t plan it. It was just one of those things that happen. One minute I was standing at the Eat Right health food store minding my own business and the next I was dating a Martian.”
“On a map, California looks like she’s hugging the continent
and Nevada is leaning in for a deep kiss.
She is tentative, he is a sharp-tongued,
diamond-studded menace, kissing her
and at the same time, pushing her into the ocean.”
“we’re foolish to not recognize
what can happen when we open
our screen doors to a desperate world”
A sweet summer’s beach trip, two girls and some filth washed in along the shore. A story of the pound and fury of an unexpected encounter, and the refusal to break.
“His urge began in the mythic land of Florida,
where power surges from the steaming swamp.”