larb blog tom

Letter From Editor-in-Chief Tom Lutz

All of us at the Los Angeles Review of Books felt great sadness last week at the news that The New Republic was falling apart. TNR had been losing $3 million a year, but had, people thought, been rescued by an internet billionaire. There isn’t a serious magazine editor out there who wouldn’t like an internet billionaire to drop like manna out of the sky — running an independent magazine in the age of digital media isn’t easy: the very internet that produced such billionaires has destroyed the traditional revenue model for magazines like ours.

That magazines like The New Republic, and Harpers, and LARB lose money is no secret. The Paris Review has an endowment and is funded in part by donations. Harper’s gets funded — to the tune of some $4.5 million a year — by a foundation. Literary magazines already needed non-commercial funding before the digital revolution hit, but things are more dire now that analog dollars have shrunk to digital dimes.

LARB now produces a greater quantity of serious work now than any of these venerable outlets, and we have managed to do it on a tiny fraction of their budgets. We’ve achieved this remarkable feat because of the volunteer labor of many, and because people have opened their wallets and opened their homes to hold fundraisers for us, written reviews and essays for nothing or next to nothing, done pro bono legal and technical work for us, and otherwise chipped in to build this remarkable home for cultural exchange. Continue reading

larb blog jerry

The LARB End-of-Year Editor Interviews: Jerry Gorin

Editor’s Note: This is the seventh interview of several we’ll be publishing this month, all with our section editors. They’re an eclectic bunch, each with their own projects and day jobs. Like the rest of the LARB ecosystem, they rely on the donations of our readership, and we hope you’ll consider giving this month. This one is with Jerry Gorin, the Director of LARB AV.

Give us some background – how did you end up working at LARB? What do you do for LARB? What do you do when you’re not working for LARB?

I was working as a producer and reporter at KPCC radio a few years ago and looking for more avenues to do multimedia stuff. I met the executive editor Jonathan Hahn through one of LARB‘s longtime copyeditors, Antal Neville, and he told me LARB was looking for help to ramp up their AV program. I’ve been there ever since and have helped shape the section into what it is today, which is a home for in-depth author interviews, profiles, and literary and arts based documentaries. Continue reading

larb blog china blog

Holiday Book Ideas From The China Blog

Back around the turn of the decade, when the “China Beat” was still up and running as a blog, rather than just the Twitter feed it is now, members of the editorial team would periodically offer readers suggestions for last-minute holiday gifts. We focused on books about China, and even compiled two lists of titles in 2008, one that had no special focus and another that just had publications by contributors to the blog. These lists seemed popular, so we thought: why not revive the tradition here? What follows are two suggestions apiece from the two of us and several of our most frequent fellow “China Bloggers” (sadly, not nearly as nifty a nickname as “China Beatniks” was back in the day). We asked for two titles from each person, making clear that one or both could have only a loose tie to China or perhaps no tie at all.

— Maura Elizabeth Cunningham and Jeff Wasserstrom Continue reading

sarah mesle blog

The LARB End-of-Year Editor Interviews: Sarah Mesle

Editor’s Note: This is the sixth interview of several we’ll be publishing this month, all with our section editors. They’re an eclectic bunch, each with their own projects and day jobs. Like the rest of the LARB ecosystem, they rely on the donations of our readership, and we hope you’ll consider giving this month. This one is with Sarah Mesle, our Senior Humanities Editor. 

Give us some background – how did you end up working at LARB? What do you do for LARB? What do you do when you’re not working for LARB?

I snuck into LARB through the Young Adult door.  In the fall of 2012 I pitched Cecil Castellucci, LARB’s YA editor, an essay about boyhood in young adult books.  I remember agonizing over the pitch — I was SO anxious — and being very relieved by Cecil’s enthusiastic and immediate welcome. So I wrote a few YA things, and through that met Evan Kindley, LARB’s previous humanities editor.  I started helping him out with editing a few academic book reviews, and then stepped into his position when he decided to move on. Continue reading

gaby blog

The LARB End-of-Year Editor Interviews: Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth interview of several we’ll be publishing this month, all with our section editors. They’re an eclectic bunch, each with their own projects and day jobs. Like the rest of the LARB ecosystem, they rely on the donations of our readership, and we hope you’ll consider giving this month. This one is with Gabrielle Calvocoressi, our Senior Poetry Editor. 

Give us some background – how did you end up working at LARB? What do you do for LARB? What do you do when you’re not working for LARB?

It’s hard to believe, but I’ve been with LARB since the beginning. Matthew Specktor took me to coffee at Joan’s and started telling me about Tom Lutz and Evan Kindley and the dream of a major arts and culture magazine that looked at the literary world from our Western perch. Continue reading

L-SACRED COVE-MINDSCAPE-LARGE

This Week’s Triptych Artist: Hung Viet Nguyen

Artist Hung Viet Nguyen was born in Vietnam in 1957. He studied Biology at Science University in Saigon, Vietnam, then transitioned to working as an illustrator, graphic artist and designer since settlement in the U.S. in 1982. He developed his artistry skills independently, studying many traditional Eastern and Western forms, media and techniques. Nguyen’s complex, labor intensive investigations of oil paint reveal a methodical mastery of texture. While portions of Nguyen’s work suggest the influence of many traditional art forms including woodblock prints, Oriental scroll paintings, ceramic art, mosaic, and stained glass, his ultimate expression asserts a contemporary pedigree.

LAUNCH LA is currently exhibiting Hung Viet Nguyen’s work from December 13 to January 17, 2015. The following is from their press release: “LAUNCH LA is proud to present Sacred Landscape by Hung Viet Nguyen. Sacred Landscape is a collection of landscapes of almost mystical serenity, fusing Nguyen’s schooling in the Eastern and Western painterly arts. Water swirls from heights, turns and levitates, the earth and rocks curve and twist into sinuous shapes: opposing landscapes threaten to collide and merge, or perhaps are frozen in separation like cells in mitosis.”

L-SACRED COVE-MS-L-MIDDLE

 

L-SACRED COVE-MS-L-LEFT

L-SACRED COVE-MS-L-RIGHT

larb blog dinah

The LARB End-of-Year Editor Interviews: Dinah Lenney

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth interview of several we’ll be publishing this month, all with our section editors. They’re an eclectic bunch, each with their own projects and day jobs. Like the rest of the LARB ecosystem, they rely on the donations of our readership, and we hope you’ll consider giving this month. This one is with Dinah Lenney, our Senior Creative Nonfiction Editor. 

Give us some background – how did you end up working at LARB? What do you do for LARB? What do you do when you’re not working for LARB?

So let’s see — it was over a year ago now. I was in the middle of writing a piece for LARB, working with Tom’s notes and having a blast with the revision — as I recall we were on the phone, fussing and tweaking, when he asked if I’d consider editing some nonfiction. I wasn’t sure at first, but Tom is very convincing, isn’t he? He made it sound like it would be fun — and so it is. Fun and fascinating and addictive in its way. And what do I do? Well, I assign and edit under the “creative nonfiction” umbrella — not the best term, I don’t suppose, but the one most people sort of understand, right? And I should say, too, there’s so much of it out there — memoir, long and short form essay, hybrid forms — just no way to cover it all — no way to know about it all. Continue reading

larb blog mao2

The East (Side) is Red

By James Carter

The Grolier Club, sitting today in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the United States, just around the corner from Park Avenue in Manhattan, was established in 1884 “to foster the study, collecting, and appreciation of books and works on paper.” One of the club’s tenets is that it embraces the power of the book, and rejects the notion that the future of the printed page is jeopardized by new technology or social convention. In keeping with that spirit, the current show celebrates one of the most powerful uses of the printed page in recent history, Mao’s “Little Red Book,” a work officially titled Quotations From Chairman Mao (毛主席语). This is the book that launched the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and took Mao’s cult of personality to unprecedented heights. The Grolier Club exhibit devoted to it — “Quotations From Chairman Mao: 50th Anniversary Exhibition, 1964-2014. From the Collection of Justin G. Schiller” — runs until January 10, 2015. Continue reading

irvin genie 2

This Week’s Triptych Artist: Charles Irvin

Charles Irvin received his BFA from the University of Texas at Austin and his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has shown at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, White Columns in New York and the Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg. Upcoming shows include a solo show at Truth and Consequences in Geneva and a group show at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena. See more at charlesirvin.com.

red totem, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 62x42 in.

red totem, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 62×42 in.

Green Genie, 2014, Medium Oil on canvas, Dimensions 36 x 30 inches

Green Genie, 2014, Medium Oil on canvas, Dimensions 36 x 30 inches

Mini Green totem, 2014, acrylic on paper, 15x11in.

Mini Green totem, 2014, acrylic on paper, 15x11in.

All photos by Lee Thompson.

larb blog arne

The LARB Editor End-of-Year Interviews: Arne de Boever

Editor’s Note: This is the third interview of several we’ll be publishing this month, all with our section editors. They’re an eclectic bunch, each with their own projects and day jobs. Like the rest of the LARB ecosystem, they rely on the donations of our readership, and we hope you’ll consider giving this month. This one is with Arne de Boever, our Philosophy/Critical Theory Editor. 

Give us some background – how did you end up working at LARB? What do you do for LARB? What do you do when you’re not working for LARB?

Arne:  I became involved with LARB in the early days of the review, when Executive Editor Jonathan Hahn asked me to write something for the review’s old website. I’d just moved from New York to Los Angeles to take up a teaching position in the School of Critical Studies at CalArts. Shortly after that, I sat down with Tom Lutz to discuss the possibility of a philosophy/critical theory section in LARB. He didn’t need much convincing. He asked me why LARB should have such a section. I made my pitch (I think it may have involved Adorno and Hollywood). He simply told me to go set it up. That part of the conversation probably took less than five minutes. Continue reading