Category Archives: LARB Main Site


Hey Phil

By Juan Felipe Herrera

for Phil Levine, RIP


They are writing about you Phil – you know
good stuff — the prizes Detroit and that
poem where you said in past lives you
were that wild sun-crested fox being chased
by “ladies and gentlemen on horseback” —
you said you would wake up with the poem
ready that it slipped untangled from a dream
all you had to do was sit up and write
the stage was a poem too – even though
most of us were too prepared you
preferred to joke before we went on
before the poetry light hit us on the face
it did not matter to you – you just carved
chiseled punctured rotated danced
and whirred past a distant gate



This Week’s Triptych Artist: Claude Viallat

Born in Nimes, France in 1936, Claude Viallat last exhibited in New York in 2002 at Cheim Read Gallery. He attended the Ecole de Beaux Arts de Paris (1962-3). His first solo show was in 1966. By the beginning of the 70s, he became one of the leaders of the group “Support-Surface.” He founded the group with fellow artists such as Bioulès, Cane, and Dezeuze after a period of intense experimentation in the south of France, where he installed his works in various non-institutional spaces such as farms, a beach, the bed of a river, etc. In a context of radical questioning social norms and values, this group of artists attempted to break up the convention of painting by deconstructing the concept of the stretcher (support) and canvas (surfaces). The group had its first show at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1971.


Claude Viallat is known for his emblematic “shape” which evokes both a net or a flat knot. Applied with a brush and a stencil, this shape acts as a signature of his works, which are never signed. By repeating this shape on a variety of surfaces, the artist frees himself of the limits of composition to focus on the combination of colors and its optical effects.

Claude Viallat is in numerous museum collections including Musée National d’Art Moderne, Fondation Cartier, CAPC Bordeaux, Museum of Modern Art, The Kunstmuseum Basel, and the Musée des Beaux Arts de Montreal.


The LARB Quarterly Journal: Winter 2015

The LARB Quarterly Journal is a testament to the fact that print is still thriving as readers continue to have a profound appetite for curated, edited, smart and fun opinion, written by the best writers and thinkers of our time.

We’ve carefully selected these articles, poems, interviews and essays—all written exclusively for this publication—for readers of just about any interest. The new issue of the LARB Quarterly Journal includes:

  • Feature essays by Sven Birkerts, Carmen Petaccio, M.P. Ritzger, Sarah Tomlinson, CA Conrad, Ananya Vajpeyi, and Kim Barnes.
  • Original poetry by Ada Limón, Bruce Bond, francine j. harris, and Jenny Johnson.
  • Short-takes written by Amy Gerstler, Marjorie Sandor, Peter Trachtenberg, Rachel Pastan, Benjamin Weissman, Gabriel Mason, and Susanne Berne.
  • Including an Artist Portfolio and profile of Emily Mast.


Become a member of the Los Angeles Review of Books at the $15 monthly level or order a copy at, or b&


Order a copy at, orb&


No Crisis: A LARB Special Series

“No Crisis” is a Los Angeles Review of Books special series considering the state of critical thinking and writing — literary interpretation, art history, and cultural studies — in the 21st century. A new installment to the series will be released at the beginning of each month through the fall of 2015. Our aim, as our introductory essay explains, is to “show that the art of criticism is flourishing, rich with intellectual power and sustaining beauty, in hard times.”

The editors of “No Crisis” are Caleb Smith, Sarah Mesle, and Merve Emre. Comments, questions, and responses can be sent to


LARB’s Top 25 Most Read Articles of 2014

1. Young Adult Cancer Story by Briallen Hopper, July 16th, 2014

Author John Green called it his “favorite essay on The Fault in Our Stars yet.”

2. We Need To Talk About Tyrion: How HBO Failed George R. R. Martin’s Iconic Character by Ilana Teitelbaum, November 21st, 2014

“What is most remarkable about this moment in the TV series is that the show gets it wrong.”

3. Hitler, Continued: Afterword from the Updated Edition of “Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil” by Ron Rosenbaum, July 10th, 2014

Ron Rosenbaum’s characteristically brilliant response to all the important updates that have occurred in Hitler studies in the past 15 years.

  1. Sarah Mesle on Texts from Jane Eyre by Sarah Mesle, November 6th, 2014

Texts from Jane Eyre is not only a major work of bathroom humor reading, but also a significant contribution to feminist literary criticism.

5. The Posthuman Scar-Jo by Sophia Nguyen, September 12th, 2014

Scarlett Johansson in Her (Spike Jonze, 2013), Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer, 2013), and Lucy (Luc Besson, 2014). Continue reading

in Port au Prince, Haiti, Friday, February 26, 2010.

Haiti: Then and Now

The following are selections from a photo essay by Allison Shelley titled “Haiti: Then and Now,” documenting Shelley’s time both covering Haiti on location in 2010, and then just recently, 2015 during her trip back there. The photo gallery includes 32 photographs presented in pairs: one from 2010, another from 2015, typically of the same scene or subject. The full photo essay, along with an essay by Allyn Gaestel titled “Still Fissured: Haiti’s Health System, Five Years After the Earthquake,” is located on our main site. 


A water tank in a tent camp behind the Notre Dame de l’Assomption Catholic church sports a message from its inhabitants, in Port au Prince, Haiti, Friday, February 26, 2010. ©Allison Shelley


Five years after the quake, a tent camp behind the Notre Dame de l’Assomption Catholic church still houses the displaced, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, January 4, 2015. ©Allison Shelley Continue reading

Keep us flying

Letter from Editor-in-Chief Tom Lutz

Dear LARB supporter,

I know you are getting a lot of emails like this, as am I, as many nonprofits rush to meet their goals.

We are very close to securing all the funds for this, our most ambitious matching grant fund drive to date. All we need to do is match what we raised in the last two days of our drive last year – and so if you gave last year and haven’t done so yet this year, we urge you to chip in what you can; if you’ve been thinking about becoming a member, or re-enrolling at a higher level, do it today or tomorrow and we get two bucks for every one of yours.

During our fund drive campaign, you’ve heard from Margaret Atwood about why she supports LARB. You’ve heard from James Ellroy, Reza Aslan, Janet Fitch, Jamie Wolf, Albert Litewka, the LARB staff themselves, and so many more.  Now it’s time for us to hear from you.

Click here to donate. Whether it’s $25, $50, $150, $200, or more, make a statement that you support Los Angeles Review of Books‘s mission to keep critical thinking alive and well in this increasingly atomized digital age.

This is your Review – we wouldn’t be here without your support, and we won’t continue to be here without it. To everyone who has given, thank you so much for bringing us this close. I’m proud of what we accomplished this year, and we hope, with your help, that next year will be even better.

Thank you so much,

Tom Lutz

michelle blog

The LARB End-of-Year Editor Interviews: Michelle Huneven

Editor’s Note: This is the ninth interview of several we’ll be publishing this month, all with our section editors. Like the rest of the LARB ecosystem, their work depends on the generous support of everyday readers who keep LARB going;  we hope you’ll consider giving this month for our winter fund drive. Here we present Michelle Huneven, a Senior Fiction 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 had been eyeing LARB since its inception, and finally asked if I might step into the drink. I am a Senior Fiction Editor, which means that I assign essays about fiction, reviews of fiction and interviews with fiction writers, which I then edit and, eventually, shepherd into production.When I am not editing and shepherding, I am trying to write fiction. I also teach creative writing at UCLA.  Continue reading


Letter from the Chairman of the Board

After graduate school, I moved from Berkeley to New York to pursue a career as a poet and novelist. I got my first job at McGraw-Hill Book Company, and wrote at night. A few years later I had occasion to travel on business to Los Angeles. Needing to do some research, I obtained a temporary library card and visited a local branch of the public library. After gathering the materials I needed, I went to the checkout desk, where an elderly librarian examined my card.

“Albert Litewka,” she said looking up at me. “Are you the Albert Litewka who many years ago attended Manchester Avenue grammar school?”

“Yes,” I responded. “Why do you ask?”

I had attended Manchester Avenue, deep in South Central (now called South) Los Angeles, after my Holocaust refugee family moved from New York to Los Angeles due to my mother’s poor health.

“My name is Miss Smith,” the woman said. “I was the librarian on the book mobile that came to your school every two weeks. The limit on the number of books a person could check out from the public library system was 14 books. Every two weeks a little boy would climb up into the book mobile and check out 14 books. He took historical novels, biographies, histories, science and sports books, and mysteries. He would stagger off the book mobile behind a stack of books as tall as his head. I would go back to the librarian’s headquarters and tell them about that boy. I used to say, ‘I wonder what that boy does with those books.’ And I always hoped that someday I would find out what happened to that boy.”

Well, I was that boy, and today it is my privilege to serve as Chairman of the Los Angeles Review of Books. Along the way, I have been President of Macmillan Publishing Company, among other companies, and enjoyed considerable business success. I didn’t wind up winning the Nobel Prize for literature, which was my first and most deeply felt ambition, but being able to help guide and build LARB has been the next best thing. All of us associated with it have poured ourselves into making LARB what Richard Brody in The New Yorker called, “One of the instant jewels of the Internet,” and playwright Jon Robin Baitz called, “The best literary magazine in the country.”

For LARB to have come so far in less than three years would not have been possible without the pooling of skills and energies from our many contributors, editors, volunteers, contractors, and staff. Nor would it have been possible without the generous support of our readers. As a nonprofit public benefit corporation, LARB is reader supported. Everything we are doing is for you, and can only be done with your support.

Please help us continue our good work by donating as generously as you can to our end-of-year matching grant fund drive. The Goldhirsh Foundation and an anonymous donor have put up $75,000 to match your donations.

LARB is independent, provocative, timely, and free-of-charge. We publish digitally, in print, in podcasts, on the radio, and in short films the best thinking and writing about books and culture today. We are read in all 50 states and some 150 countries worldwide. With your help and support, we will continue to fulfill LARB‘s mission, always with you, our reader, in mind.

With warm best wishes for an enjoyable holiday season and a healthy, productive New Year.


Albert Litewka

cecil blig

The LARB End-of-Year Editor Interviews: Cecil Castellucci

Editor’s Note: This is the eighth interview of several we’ll be publishing this month, all with our section editors. Like the rest of the LARB ecosystem, their work depends on the generous support of everyday readers who keep LARB going;  we hope you’ll consider giving this month for our winter fund drive. Here we present Cecil Castellucci, Young Adult Fiction Editor. Check out today’s YA special coverage on the legacy of Little Red Riding Hood stories and how they’ve evolved: Aisha Anwar’s “In the Shadow of the Wolf,” and Claire Jimenez’s “Eight Ways Red.”

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?

When Tom Lutz launched the LA Review of Books, he wanted to make sure that all the literary nooks were covered.  I had met him at various functions in Los Angeles and since I am so involved with the YA world in Los Angeles he turned to me. I edit the YA and Children’s section.  This means mostly I commission or accept pitches for thought pieces and essay’s on Young People’s Literature.  I am a full time Young Adult author.   Continue reading