Author, educator and poet Mike Sonksen reflects on the solace provided by public art, books and the creative community in L.A. during a dark time in our world.
Category Archive: REAL
‘The biggest challenge we are living now—during the worst pandemic in 100 years—is to stretch the collective imaginations to the creative means needed to overcome the current economic and political crisis,’ writes former Los Angeles Poet Laureate Luis J. Rodriquez in his Letter to L.A.
‘Better to not know what hanged me.’ A preview of Cassandra Lane’s poignant, potent and exquisitely crafted forthcoming memoir, discovering her mysterious and painful family past and reflecting on what it means to be a Black mother, with an introduction by F. Douglas Brown.
Twenty years after its original publication, Deanne Stillman’s California cult classic, TWENTYNINE PALMS, is even more relevant and has just been optioned. A look back at an epic true tale of murder, Marines and the Mojave, plus a Q&A examining the book’s place in our cultural landscape.
For Danielle Broadway, the current moment feels like a suspension of time between victory and destruction, much like in ‘Avengers: Infinity War,’ when Scarlet Witch seemingly stops Thanos and saves the universe. Yet, as she shares in her essay, to be marginalized in America is to know that there’s a chance that Thanos will snap his fingers or, off-screen, that Trump may return with his minions.
As families wrestle with unforeseen stresses and responsibilities during the Covid-19 pandemic, a writer revisits her son’s early years—and the uncertainties of parenting through trauma.
PEN America Emerging Voices alumna Parnaz Foroutan’s new memoir explores identity, belonging and desire. An excerpt plus Q&A with the author on writing memoir, underrepresented voices, finding home and more.
In her latest book, bestselling author Angella Nazarian chronicles and celebrates 15 iconic couples who’ve made an impact in our world. An excerpt and Q&A with the author give a glimpse into potent pairs and insights into how lessons from their partnerships can guide us during this time of uncertainty.
With worry and pride in her heart, Rhonda Mitchell watches her daughter—the little girl she once told to ‘be a leader’—head out to a Black Lives Matter protest. Exploring generational differences and attitudes toward racism, she finds hope through the eyes of her Gen-Zer.
Writing with fury and grace, Stephanie Zhong both reports on and protects herself from the rise of anti-Asian racism during the Covid-19 pandemic. She finds refuge at the 99 Ranch grocery store, a safe haven from what she describes as ‘the other pandemic.’
Participants from around the country and the globe in our ‘Journaling Through Catastrophe’ workshop share their interpretations of the “new normal” and their perspectives of a world that is paradoxically familiar but also very strange.
A selection of contributions from participants in our ‘Homebound Heroes’ workshop, with a focus on self-acceptance, self-care and imagination, reveals the power and magic of coming together as a virtual writing community and supporting others during this time of imposed isolation.
With a nod to magical realism, Tess Sullivan beckons us to join her on a provocative, imaginative journey. From her crowded street in Hollywood she walks to a steep set of stairs, where she looks up at a world of hillside mansions, wondering what those above think of the dwellers below facing Covid-19 hardships.
In this tour-de-force debut essay, a daughter and mother circle each other, their grief unspoken. As pain creates wildly varying interpretations of reality, even the imaginary sound of a crying animal is cause for blame.
A sleepless searcher discovers what she’s really looking for while late-night cyberstalking her past loves.
Losing her job during the pandemic opens new doors for one writer on a revived, post-divorce career path.
On their honeymoon, Grace Marvin’s grandparents came to Los Angeles and never left. In her essay, she examines her family’s California origin story, how history is passed on from generation to generation and the deep roots planted in the place where we grow up.
A recent move to an industrial park upholstery shop in Ventura County from an affluent neighborhood nearby makes one writer feel a bit out of place, like when she moved abroad years ago. But there’s also familiarity as her map expands.
Matchmaking mishaps and a pandemic challenge a single’s resolution to make 2020 the year of yes.
THE PRETTY ONE, the celebrated, new essay collection by first-time author and #DisabledAndCute founder Keah Brown, is powerful guide for change. An excerpt, plus Q&A with the author on writing, Roxane Gay, pop culture, coming out, goal-setting and more.
Outrage turned to action when authors, including Roxane Gay, Myriam Gurba and Wendy C. Ortiz, gathered at #Dignidadliteraria to demand increased Latinx representation in the publishing industry.
Mei Mei Sun’s lyrical essay explodes in a torrent of feelings about the beauty, fragility and brutality of love. New to L.A., she’s uncertain about her love for this city until she realizes the Pacific Ocean connects her upbringing in Shenyang, China, to this place she is still getting to know. And yet. Love may be very close to home.
As he honors the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., L.A.-native Mark Eckhardt details how he has been a target of racist incidents in his own neighborhood since the election of President Trump, and encourages all of us to find the courage to confront the resurgence of bigotry, to live according to the dreams of Dr. King.
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.”