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.”
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.
“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.”
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.”
“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.”
“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.
“I wish I could make the piñata’s vibrant colors fade to pale nothingness, but I still see that mouth. It haunts me like a giant black hole, hungry to suck the entire universe into its grim, empty abyss.”
“I grieve for Los Angeles
Left behind me.
I grieve for Obama’s America
Soon to be gone.”
“Can you imagine a Saddam-like statue outside the White House — a massive, gold-plated tuft of hair blotting out the view from the Jefferson Memorial — bearing the words ‘Donald J. Trump, Leader of the Free World?’ Don’t laugh. It could happen.”
In his poems, Sergio A. Ortiz explores a range of roiling emotions post-11/9: feelings of longing and regret, resentment stirring at the emerging depravity, and warnings about remaining silent. But there is also hope in resistance: “Listen to how frozen hurricanes emerge from the dew!”
“I am Her. Every woman is, whether she knows it or not. And the tears keep falling.”
The premiere of the lyrics video for “I’m Not My Friend,” the first single off Ruby Friedman Orchestra’s powerful debut album, GEM, reveals haunting, true stories of those vulnerable to predators and a vigilante determined to seek justice outside the law. In the post-election glare, the revenge anthem takes on new meanings.
A poignant letter and apology from a journalist and writer to his daughter in this tenuous and frightening time mounting in our country, a promise to do all he can and a message for her: Resist.
A new, post-election song by Peter Harper calls on the need for all to fight for freedom.
A pledge we make. “Hope is no superficial undertaking, but demands absolute allegiance even in apocalyptic times.”
Welcome to “Life’s Rich Pageant,” a month-long celebration of dazzling, provocative, whimsical, bold and resonating stories. Come on!
Welcome to Angels Flight • literary west and our “love/hate” debut issue. We hope you love it!
“I realized I was surviving on isolation, wounded and harboring, and that that does not make for very good love. Sometime after the bridge, I began to realize that I already knew everything I needed to know.”
Author Wendy C. Ortiz gives a visceral exploration of love, loss and transformation in the hills and streets of L.A. in an excerpt of “Hollywood Notebook,” a memoir of her 20s and 30s coming-of-age in Los Angeles.
“Hiram ‘Doc’ Hollywood had come to California from the Topeka World’s Fair of ’88 to build a dream factory that would bear his name. But dreams were a rough business. In his years of efforts he could never figure out the formula to get the dreams into the heads of the sleeping people (something his protege Leonardo ‘Leo’ DiCaprio would one day do), and when the dream market took a beating in the Panic of ’96, Doc Hollywood switched to movies.”
A fast-moving excerpt from Shanna Mahin’s acclaimed debut novel, tracing the ups and downs of Jess, third-generation Hollywood trouble.
“His spirit is buoyed when he sees the lavender oil in the bathroom mirror. It’s simmering in a glass dish that glows orange over a candle; the lighting is perfect. Behind it: his mother’s curly, red hair swept up, her ivory arms rim the leaden tub against checkered tile. The dish and her hair stand out like the colorized objects in an otherwise black-and-white photo.”
Troubadour Tom Freund on his inspiration for “Angel Eyes,” an emotive song about the duality in the L.A. scene, and an ode to the angels, true friends who are always there.
L.A.-based singer/songwriter Avery Roberts shares the deeper meaning of the lyrics to “Wifi & I,” his infectious love song parody about our constant search for connection in a world Velcroed to our devices.
AFLW co-founder David Lott reflects on the loss of a close friend by examining his dreamlike grief and tenuous memories of adventures in the high grounds of the Doheny Estates.