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.”
A heart-pounding-in-ears exploration of the fleeting possibility of a razor-sharp death, a grand, fiery death, in a wearisome and worn-out life. And what a thrill it could be.
In L.A.’s dating scene, the rules don’t apply. An excerpt, playlists and Q&A with the authors of an alternative guide.
“Together you sneak those tiny conversation hearts from a bowl at the librarian’s desk. You leave only a single heart behind. You sit beneath a table and read them to each other. Chalky dye covers your fingers, coats your tongues.”
“Hospitality is one of our most vital forms of resistance. Each of us must push past our hatred and fear to open a door, and each of us must find the courage to step in.”
“There is a choice we must make: to be on the right side of history or the wrong one, to say, ‘I fought in the face of fascism’ or ‘I just went along for the ride.'” On resistance, black joy, disability and work to do by #DisabledAndCute creator Keah Brown.
Our post-inauguration event, in collaboration with David Rocklin’s Roar Shack, was a powerful night of resistance.
Julia Ingalls has always reconciled difficult times through music. Hearing David Bowie’s “Modern Love” on the night of the election, “the song was now a lesson in how to battle alienation with a snazzy rictus, to stand among the brightest lights yet feel utterly alone, in the dark.”
“we, in the eye of the storm,
are a love letter, a prayer
that is more assurance than ask.
‘We will be ok,’ we say, we sing, film it,
play it back over and over”
“Poetry … must be tactless, falling down stairs like a toddler,
slipping into ravines like a dancer on high alert,
forgetting the words but remembering the way. Poetry must be.”
On the heels of the powerful Women’s March, when love trumped hate en masse, a message from the heart: Invest in love.
A call to action: “As the dark wings of native fascism threaten to blot out our sun, it is essential that American writers, artists, poets, journalists and musicians use their imaginative resources to push against that darkness.”
What does Donald Trump’s inaugural dinner reveal? We’ve obtained the top-secret menu and offer it up as an additional excerpt from THE POLITICAL COOKBOOK: A Compendium of American Dishes. Spoiler Alert: Misogyny Soup will be served.
In her latest acclaimed novel, LITTLE NOTHING, Marisa Silver compels us to look, and look deeply, at how hatred distorts not only those we fear, but ourselves. An excerpt and conversation with HAUNTING BOMBAY author Shilpa Agarwal examining the meaning of “other” and more within and without this extraordinary work.
Author and activist Désirée Zamorano questions how we go forward, but is determined to fight. “Each day the news can be petrifying, freezing us in steps. What good can I do? And since we cannot do this alone, to you I say, ‘Join us, bring your art, your talent, your compassion, your energy.’ Because there is no Wonder Woman. There’s only us.”
We have been honored to feature an array of tremendous titles from incredibly talented and diverse writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Here are some of our favorites published in the year we now leave behind.
“Our role to make our country great will never be easy, but the American way is to get back up and fight for what this country should and must stand for. I am not alone. We are not alone. Sending peace and love to my fellow Americans. We’ve got work to do.”
Visiting Manzanar, a former Japanese internment camp in the California desert, challenged one writer to ask how to move forward after witnessing the consequences of U.S. policies through the lens of history. “To realize that, no matter who’s in charge, this is our country. We, the people, play a valuable part in transforming it.”
A poet’s reflection on fear, written on 11/9, after the dismaying results of the election.
Prose incantations written pre- and post-election by L.A. poet and author Rich Ferguson. All selections part of his collection in progress, “Everything Is Radiant Between the Hates.”
For the first time in her life, writer Alana Saltz is afraid of being Jewish. She isn’t alone. Yet history has taught her not to give in to fear, but to fight back and to survive.
“We live inside stories. Stories we tell ourselves about who we are, about where we come from, about what the world is.” Now, more than ever, author Samantha Dunn is committed to telling her story and to helping others tell their stories, too. “This is a long game, folks. Be the storytellers.”
A holiday toast to fighting the good fight. Get a taste of THE POLITICAL COOKBOOK: A Compendium of American Dishes by humorist George R. Wolfe. First, we whet your appetite with satirical cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Then, main dishes and desserts. Vive la Revolution!
Ryann Perlstein, a 16-year-old high school sophomore, learned a tough lesson in adult politics when she interviewed a parent for her school paper. The parent turned out to be celebrity Republican Scott Baio. And the experience made her realize how critical it is now to take action to make a difference.
When the Electoral College cast its vote, our collective loss on 11/9 resonated doubly. How do we continue to hope when hope seems lost and far off?
Read an excerpt from “Wedding Bush Road,” a new novel by David Francis on the complexities of the journey “home,” and a Q&A with the author exploring the freeing power of distance and how the change of regime now challenges writers to “be more aware of the ‘political'” in their work.
“I hadn’t noticed the accumulation of paper cuts until now. All those moments when I gave a man something he wanted. I carry around these memories like a jar of stones that dream of shattering windows.”
An excerpt from the fiery, acclaimed debut novel by Jade Chang, “The Wangs Vs. the World,” and a frank Q&A with the author post-11/9.