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A Letter from LARB Board Member Reza Aslan

There is nothing quite like the Los Angeles Review of Books. It is as lively, creative, innovative, and full of new ideas as the city itself. Like the city, it has become a home for contributors that span the globe, from right here in Los Angeles to New York, Beijing, Gaza, Mumbai, Myanmar, Cairo, Madrid, Paris, the list goes on. In the past month alone, LARB has covered writers from all over the world, including English novelist Martin Amis, Mexican-American poet Denise Chavez, Italian artist Matteo Pericoli, and Australian former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, as well as Scottish wordsmith Ali Smith right back to hometown Los Angeles resident Janet Fitch. LARB is read in all 50 states and in more than 150 countries, making it a truly global forum.

But where the Los Angeles Review of Books triumphs most is in its diversity of opinion. You may not always agree with the pieces you read, but they will always be worth your time. They will be thought-provoking, stirring, and sometimes just plain fun.

I joined the board of the Los Angeles Review of Books because I believe in its mission – because I wanted to show my support for independent publishing at a time when it couldn’t be more important to do so.

LARB is reader-supported: it only exists thanks to the generosity of everyday readers like us. That’s why this is such an important time to show your support. The Goldhirsh Foundation and an anonymous donor have generously offered $75,000 in matching grants to help keep LARB strong in the new year. To receive the $75,000, we need to raise $75,000, and we only have until January 1 to do it. So, today, I appeal to you, donate what you can. We have a collective responsibility to keep this organization strong for the sake of independent journalism, and for the exchange of ideas. Theirs is our fight, too.

Sincerely,
Reza Aslan

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The LARB End-of-Year Editor Interviews: Lisa Levy

Editor’s Note: This is the second 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 Lisa Levy, our Mystery and Noir 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 have been writing for LARB for a couple of years. I just liked what LARB was doing, and cold pitched Arne (our Philosophy and Critical Theory Editor) and that was that. My first piece was for Arne and Evan on Susan Sontag’s journals, and I enjoyed working with them so much I wrote two or three more pieces for them. After my piece on Alain de Botton, which got some attention, Tom emailed me a very gracious note and basically said I could write whatever I wanted for LARB, which was a really lovely gesture. Continue reading

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Need to Brush Up On Your Typing Skills? Tom Hanks Is Here to Help

Tom Hanks is a long time supporter of the Los Angeles Review of Books.

A typewriter enthusiast, he’s casting his vote for LARB during our matching grant fund drive by offering this beautiful Olivetti-Underwood (Serial# 627192) to a lucky recipient who gives $250 or more to help us meet our fund drive goal.

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Donate $250 before Friday at 5:00 PM pacific. We’ll randomly select one lucky recipient after the deadline passes!

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Finding the Monkey King in Mong Kok

By Jeffrey Wasserstrom

Note: All photos were taken in Mong Kok on the morning of November 8. The drawing in the center shows Hong Kong’s widely disliked Chief Executive C.Y. Leung, derided by critics as “The Wolf,” threatening protesters, represented by the movement’s iconic yellow umbrellas, and has a caption reading: “We need a democratic government NOT a violent one.”

There are many obvious differences between the headline-making events associated with Hong Kong and Ferguson. Let’s begin with a basic fact: there have been injuries but no deaths linked to the Umbrella Movement. In addition, while protests have erupted both on Hong Kong Island itself and across the harbor in Kowloon, there have been no actions in even the nearest mainland cities, such as Guangzhou and Shenzhen. This contrasts sharply with the situation in the United States, where demonstrations broke out from Los Angeles to New York City to express outrage over the Grand Jury’s verdict not to put the Ferguson police officer responsible for Michael Brown’s death on trial.   Continue reading

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The LARB End-of-Year Editor Interviews: Anne Elizabeth Moore

Editor’s Note: This is the first 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 first one is with Anne Elizabeth Moore, our Comics editor.

Jacob: 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 founded the Best American Comics series for Houghton Mifflin and used to edit The Comics Journal and Punk Planet, at which I focused on comics fairly substantially, and since there aren’t a ton of other people in the world who’ve edited comics and comics criticism for a wide literary audience, I called Tom up when the former editor left. As I recall he said, “Who else could do it?” I took it as an endorsement, and not an act of desperation.  Continue reading

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A Call to Action: Support Independent Publishing Today

The Goldhirsh Foundation and an anonymous donor have generously offered us $75,000 in matching grants. To receive the $75,000, we need to raise $75,000, and we only have until January 1 to do it. If you’ve donated to LARB in the past, we need your help again. If you’ve never donated to LARB, now is the time to do it. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, every dollar we raise goes directly to paying the writers and artists that we publish and you read every day, and the staff whose tireless work makes it all possible.

LARB has grown across all sectors in the past year, and the Blog is no exception. We’ve added regular features from our LARB Channels, published original essays and reviews for the first time, and completely redesigned our website. We have much more planned for the coming year, but we need your help.

We’ve assembled some tasty thank-you gifts to whet your giving appetite, including a digital ePub anthology highlighting interviews, articles and essays from 2014, selected for you by LARB‘s diverse team of section editors; a typewriter Tom Hanks has personally donated to help us reach our goal; gift certificates from the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Pop Physique and the Short Order and Short Cake bakery and restaurant; signed books from some of our favorite authors, and more.

Please help us reach our goal. Give now at the $50, $150, $250 or any level you can afford, and help us keep the grand tradition of independent publishing alive. Thank you so much.

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Taking the Edge Off in Troubled Times: Healthy Habits for Conscientious Cadres

By Austin Dean

It can’t be much fun to be a Chinese Communist Party official these days. On the one hand, pressures from the job just keep growing, since their main charge is to maintain economic growth and social stability and this has been especially challenging of late. On the other, they don’t have as many privileges as they once did, thanks to the anti-corruption campaign waged over the past year and a half by Xi Jinping and Wang Qishan, the head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection: no more personal use of government cars, no more fancy dinners out on the public dime, and, apparently, no more mahjong, a popular game akin to gin rummy. Party cadres now carouse and cavort at their own risk; each week brings news of another official carried off on corruption charges. Continue reading

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Phil Klay’s Redeployment Wins National Book Award for Fiction

Congratulations to Phil Klay, who was recently announced as the winner of the National Book Award for fiction for his debut short story collection Redeployment. The collection centers around the Iraq War and its aftermath for the soldiers who fought in it. We’re proud to say that we published three pieces on Phil Klay and Redeployment, in May:

“The Tender Underbelly of Soldiers: Phil Klay’s Lives During Wartime” by Nathan Deuel

“The Things We Wrote About: The Author of Redeployment on Military Conflict, the Craft of Fiction, and Coming Home,” an interview with Phil Klay conducted by Michael Lokesson

“Horn! Reviews Redeployment” by Kevin Thomas

Check them out, and also check out the book itself, published by Penguin.

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Our Deep Springs Syllabus

Today’s post was originally published on LARB Channel Avidly

By Sarah Mesle and Sarah Blackwood

AMERICAN ENCOUNTERS

Drs. Sarahs
Office Hours: 9-midnight
Office Location: Cabin, fireside

Note on Class Policy: Never, ever email us. We will not respond.

September 7: Methods
Introduction: How to Do Things with Words
Herman Melville, “A Squeeze of the Hand,” Moby-Dick
Jacques Lacan, “The Signification of the Phallus”

September 14: Concepts
Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish
Donald Winnicott, on The Good Enough Mother Continue reading

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This Week’s Triptych Artist: Otto Schubert

Otto Schubert is one of several soldier artists profiled in Postcards from the Trenches, a new traveling exhibit of art German and American soldiers created in the midst of the First World War.

The exhibit, which commemorates the war’s 100th anniversary, is curated by Dr. Irene Guenther, History Professor in the Honors College, University of Houston, and Dr. Marion Deshmukh, Professor of History and Art History at George Mason University. Click here for more information. 

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