Category Archives: LARB Main Site


Join Us at Book Soup for a Book Party with Karen Finley

Shock Treatment (City Lights Books) is Karen Finley’s first book, published just as she became internationally famous for being denied an NEA grant because of perceived obscenity in her work. In it, she captures the drama and fragility of the AIDS era and distills the emotional turmoil of that time with excoriating monologues and essays. With a new introductory essay by the author.

Join us at Book Soup on Saturday September 19 at 4:00 PM with Karen Finley for a discussion and signing of her book Shock Treatment: 25th Anniversary Edition

Summer Interns

Help the LARB Summer Interns Bring Their Magazine to Print!

Seven very talented college students spent the summer at the Los Angeles Review of Books learning how to make a magazine of their own. We offer the LARB Publishing Course every year as part of our summer internship program, which teaches undergraduate students everything from editing to copyediting to layout and design, including acquiring and editing their own articles, and working with artists, galleries, and museums to bring in original illustration and art.

As part of the course, the students take over our print magazine and make their own edition. They then finance it themselves through a Kickstarter campaign in order to learn about the financial realities of independent publishing. If they succeed, they take their very own real world magazine to press for a print run of 10,000 copies, which get distributed to coffee shops, libraries, bookstores, and restaurants throughout Los Angeles.

Please consider supporting their Kickstarter campaign, which launches today, and help them bring their magazine to print!


Our Summer Pop-Up Membership Drive Is Here

The Los Angeles Review of Books is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. We depend on our readers to exist. That’s why we created a membership program, to bring our many smart and fun readers (that means you!) together in one place, not only to keep LARB going, but to create a true family of likeminded readers and writers.

For anyone that signs up to be a member between now and Tuesday at 11:59 PM, we’re going to select one lucky winner who will receive a specially animated bobble head image, designed to look like you!

Click here to find out how it works. And thank you so much for your support.


“FEW SOCIAL PRACTICES now seem more antiquated than the formal duel by swords or pistols. The so-called ‘judicial duel’ became widely practiced in Europe in the early Middle Ages, influenced by Homeric and other Classical accounts of single combat, and survived more or less intact for centuries. Over the same span, duels appeared endlessly in stories, paintings, poems, and novels. Duels seem ‘particularly hospitable to literature,’ John Leigh proposes in his lucid and thorough new study, because they are ‘self-contained dramas’; ‘the most deliberate, self-conscious of acts,’ the ‘ritualized combat’ of a duel stipulates a consistent pattern of word and deed.”

Ivan Kreilkamp on Touché: The Duel in Literature by John Leigh. 

Congratulations to New US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera

Congratulations to our friend, colleague, contributor and now, US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera.

Read his most recent poems for the Los Angeles Review of Books here:

“Hey Phil”

“And if the man with the choke-hold”


“WANDA COLEMAN, 1946-2013″

“For Jayne Cortez, R.I.P”

“Jack Gilbert, 1925-2012″

“Perched on Nothingness”

albert letter image

Letter From the Chairman

Wouldn’t it be of great interest and value if we could watch filmed interviews with our favorite authors from previous eras? Who would you want to see? Tolstoy? Melville? Proust? Dickens? Jane Austen? Henry James? Anaïs Nin? Emily Dickinson? F. Scott Fitzgerald or Nathanael West? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a library of filmed author interviews and short documentaries on literary and cultural subjects, including the rich literary history of LA? That is exactly what the Los Angeles Review of Books has set out to do in launching the LARB Audiovisual Library.

To date, LARB has filmed and posted some 125 professionally edited author interviews, including such luminaries as Margaret Atwood, Judith Butler,T.C. Boyle, David Shields, and Leo Braudy, along with mini-documentaries such as “Living History: The John Feathers Map Collection.” To view these and other projects from our audiovisual division, LARB AV, please click here. We have set for ourselves a goal of building a library of 500-1,000 interviews and short films by the year 2020. This means we will need to do at least 100-200 filmed interviews per year, at a cost of $50,000+ per year. The result will be a library that benefits not only LARB readers but also students, teachers, academics, librarians, and cultural historians worldwide.

LARB was conceived as a digital online magazine dedicated to playing a prominent role in the literary community by connecting with the people, books, and ideas that enliven and explain our world. Today it is that and more. Since launching our full website in 2012, LARB has a print publication program, including the LARB Quarterly Journal and the Los Angeles Review of Books: The Magazine; we hold and participate in various kinds of events, including our LARB Luminary Dinners and Tom’s Book Club; we have a weekly radio show on KPFK called the LARB Radio Hour; we produce podcasts and short films; we serve as the home base for an array of independent literary and cultural websites that operate as LARB Channels; and much more. The LARB Audiovisual Library is an important component of our multidimensional program.

As a nonprofit, LARB is funded by your donations. It is not only tiresome to you, our friends and readers, to be solicited for donations throughout the year, it is tiresome and difficult for us. But we have no choice. LARB is independent, provocative, timely, and free of charge. We publish digitally, in print, and in audiovisual forms the best thinking and writing about books and culture today. In 2014 we published some 1,500 reviews, essays, podcasts, and short films! Fundraising is what makes this possible. Our members make this possible. Giving to our cause – whether through a single donation or by signing up to be a member – matters.

We are asking you today to please show your support for LARB in general and the LARB Audiovisual Library project in particular. Please donate as generously as you can, whether that be $5 or $5,000, by clicking here or by sending a check made payable to the Los Angeles Review of Books to Los Angeles Review of Books, 1614 S. Central Ave., Glendale, CA 91204.

We are making literary and cultural history. Please take this exciting journey with us. On behalf of the LARB staff and board, we thank you for your involvement and generous support.

With appreciation,

Albert Litewka

Chairman of the Board

Los Angeles Review of Books



A Letter from Editor-in-Chief Tom Lutz

Hello friends of LARB, 

I’m writing you from Iowa City, which, primarily because of the legendary Writers Workshop and its International Writing Program, was named a UNESCO “City of Literature” – a distinction it shares with seven other cities, including Dublin and Prague, for instance. (It’s the only city in the US with the distinction, but it seems to me Los Angeles should be on that list…)

I’m here for the Mission Creek Festival, a music and arts festival with a lot of literary activity – Lorrie Moore read last night; Eula Biss, Kiese Laymon, Ander Monson, Luis Alberto Urrea, and others are taking part. I’m reading from a new travel book I’ve just finished, and sitting on a panel on publishing “in a digital landscape.”

I’ve sat on a number of panels like this over the last several years, and what always comes up, not surprisingly, is the question of the basic economic problem of the web: how do you pay for quality content when the old methods of doing so – advertising and subscriptions – no longer work. Our answer at the Los Angeles Review of Books has been to appeal directly to our readers; thousands of you have responded over the years and pitched in. We thank you, and literary culture thanks you.

We also continue to write grants and go after advertising dollars and corporate sponsors, and we continue to rely on an enormous amount of volunteer labor. But until “the digital landscape” changes, we will continue to need you to donate, as you have done so far, to keep us growing and thriving. We are launching our spring fund drive today, and hope you will once again help us do our part to build not just a city of literature, but the world of literature.

With very best wishes,

Tom Lutz



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.