Gorgeous and richly layered, Shonda Buchanan’s memoir, BLACK INDIAN, examines what it means to be African American and American Indian, as the author rewinds time to uncover the origins of her dual heritage–almost lost forever–hidden among family secrets, grievances and long-ago deaths.
When newlywed David Feinberg’s Tarzana townhouse burned down, he and his wife moved in with her parents. Life with his in-laws forced him to rethink his definition of adulthood while adjusting to awkwardness of sex in his wife’s childhood room, and a rigid set of house rules.
Through meditations on race, culture and family, Carla Rachel Sameth’s debut, ONE DAY ON THE GOLD LINE: A MEMOIR IN ESSAYS, tells the story of a lesbian Jewish single mother raising a black son in Los Angeles. Through her moving essays, she examines life’s surprising changes that come through choice or circumstance, often seemingly out of nowhere, and sometimes darkly humorous. An excerpt from her celebrated, new book release.
David Lynch’s premiere of Twin Peaks at the Ace Hotel provides the setting for a wry, observant glimpse into the superficial, glitzy aspects of Los Angeles. That is until a chance encounter downtown at Clifton’s flings frivolity to the wind as life’s fragility zooms into sharp focus.
In her new memoir, writer and criminal defense attorney Karen Stefano, shares the gripping story of how a young woman persevered after a violent sexual assault, ultimately regaining her strength and sense of freedom she had lost.
East-Coast transplant and writer Marnie Goodfriend has an “it’s complicated” relationship with L.A.’s elusive passage of time, and considers the notion of idleness as a luxury item.
THIS IS (NOT) L.A. by Jen Bilik is a love letter to Los Angeles, and an essential reality check and debunker of false myths about the city. An excerpt of the most L.A. and un-L.A. guide, including a foreword by the late Jonathan Gold.
What do you do when everything in your life is touched by waves of anxiety, when the simplest thing in your routine provokes debilitating panic attacks? Writer Andrea Tate shares how she’s overcoming her phobias to find a way out of fear.
Author Riley Perez went to prison for the robbery and attempted extortion of Joe Francis, the creator of Girls Gone Wild. It was a job he was hired to do by the mob. In WHAT IS REAL, Perez brings the reader into his world, one in which the rules of engagement make sense only to those whose lives depend on it.
In DTLA/37, authors Yennie Cheung and Kathryn E. McGee consider the “human temperature” of the ever-changing landscape of Downtown Los Angeles. From larger-than-life murals to burlesque to a historic hotel, these 37 stories along with full-color photographs capture the unique character of a place in which the City of Angels was born.
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 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.
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.
A fast, furious and hopeful response to the #MeToo hashtag activism that went viral.
“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.
“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.
“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.
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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.
“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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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?
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“I am Her. Every woman is, whether she knows it or not. And the tears keep falling.”
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.