Category Archives: LARB Main Site

2014-08-09 10.54.16

THE LARB END-OF-YEAR EDITOR INTERVIEWS: David Higgins

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth 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. 

Meet David Higgins, Speculative Fiction Editor.

What do you do and why?

I teach in the English department at Inver Hills College in St. Paul, Minnesota — a tiny, picturesque little college buried under snow for at least five months of the year.  I also write academic non-fiction — mostly scholarly articles related to science fiction and imperialism.  This year, I was also a judge for both the Philip K. Dick award (for the best new science fiction novel published in paperback) and the Science Fiction Research Association Pioneer Award (for the best article-length work of SF scholarship).  Why do I do these things?  I love reading, and I’m fascinated by how science fiction reflects the best and worst aspects of imaginative literature.  On one hand, this is a genre which has always been about conquest and empire; it’s filled with fantasies related to colonial expansion and imperial exploitation.  On the other hand, it’s also (sometimes simultaneously) a genre which deeply questions what we take for granted about “reality” in fascinating, thoughtful, and and insightful ways.  What’s not to love?

What is your favorite place to write/edit outside of your home?

My office on campus, where I’m surrounded by books (and a number of vintage Star Wars and Doctor Who toys).

What is your favorite thing to drink while writing/editing?

Coffee.

What piece did you submit to the LARB Anthology and why?

I submitted Gerry Canavan’s The Warm Equations, which is a double review of Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves and Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora. These were two of the most fascinating books of the year, and Canavan considers how they offer alternative visions of humankind’s future in space after the inevitable end of the Earth as we know it.  I also submitted Siobhan Carroll’s The Ecological Uncanny, which reviews Jeff VanderMeer’sSouthern Reach Trilogy, which is probably the weirdest and coolest work of speculative fiction I’ve encountered in recent memory — everyone should read all of these books right away!

NASA asks you to select one piece of art/literature/music/film to send into space that will explain our civilization to aliens. What do you chose and why?

If I was in an optimistic mood, I might send the first season of Sense8, which is all about how people from vastly alien social worlds can build meaningful bonds of love and support with one another.  If I was feeling more pessimistic, I might send the film Primer, which is a time-travel flick about the fathomless depths of human mistrust.  If I just didn’t want the aliens to invade Earth, I might send The Avengers in the hope of scaring them away…

Share a cultural moment/experience you had in 2015 that you really enjoyed.

Mad Max: Fury Road.

Share a cultural moment/experience you had in 2015 that you really didn’t enjoy.

Eric Harris. Walter Scott. Sandra Bland. Samuel DuBose. Freddie Gray. Jamar Clark — It’s hard to keep track of the names.  People adopting the stance that “all lives matter” refuse to face the violence inherent to systemic inequality for blacks in America right now.

What is the one question you always wish people would ask in interviews? Now answer it!

Q:  What’s your favorite quote?

A:  “The best thing for being sad . . . is to learn something.  That is the only thing that never fails.  You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder in your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds.  There is only one thing for it then – to learn.  Learn why the world wags and what wags it.  That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you.” — Merlyn (to young King Arthur), The Once and Future King by T.H. White (183).

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THE LARB END-OF-YEAR EDITOR INTERVIEWS: Stephanie Cha

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth 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. 

Meet Stephanie Cha, Noir Editor.

What do you do and why? 

I’m the new noir editor for LARB, but mostly, I’m a novelist. I write about L.A., particularly Korean-American L.A., and so far I’ve found it useful to do that through noir.

What is your favorite place to write/edit outside of your home?

I’m a homebody.

What is your favorite thing to drink while writing/editing?

Diet Cokes. I’m a fiend for them.

NASA asks you to select one piece of art/literature/music/film to send into space that will explain our civilization to aliens. What do you chose and why? 

This is a hard question! But for some reason The White Boy Shuffle by Paul Beatty comes to mind.

Share a cultural moment/experience you had in 2015 that you really enjoyed. 

So many! I go to a lot of readings and other book-related events, and I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite. I guess outside of the literary sphere, I did love attending the finale taping for season 7 of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Share a cultural moment/experience you had in 2015 that you really didn’t enjoy. 

I went to the Integratron in Joshua Tree and a white dude in toe shoes and a coolie hat ruined it for everyone.

What is the one question you always wish people would ask in interviews? Now answer it!

What did you eat for lunch and why? I had some Thai food because I wanted some Thai food.

 

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THE LARB END-OF-YEAR EDITOR INTERVIEWS: Michael Marder

Editor’s Note: This is the third 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. 

Meet Michael Marder, Founder of The Philosopher’s Plant.

What do you do and why?

Thinking, writing, sharing the results with others. I used to answer the question “Why?” with another question: “Why do you breathe?” It’s a calling.  

What is your favorite place to write/edit outside of your home?

I do not often have the luxury of choosing where to write: planes, trains, buses, bureaucratic line-ups have all been the backdrops for my writing. I like working in cafés occasionally, but they ought to have excellent views and as little background noise as possible.

What is your favorite thing to drink while writing/editing?

Green tea, preferably with jasmine.

NASA asks you to select one piece of art/literature/music/film to send into space that will explain our civilization to aliens. What do you chose and why?

A CD of Bernardo Sassetti Trio titled “Motion”. It speaks for itself, in the language of music.

Share a cultural moment/experience you had in 2015 that you really enjoyed.

Attending Iberian Suite: Global Arts Remix at the Kennedy Center in DC

Share a cultural moment/experience you had in 2015 that you really didn’t enjoy.

Watching “007: Spectre”, the new James Bond movie: not so much because of a flimsy plot but because of its utterly naive conception of power, which remains centralized and traceable to a single person or institution.

What is the one question you always wish people would ask in interviews? Now answer it!

Do you like being interviewed? Not that much…

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THE LARB END-OF-YEAR EDITOR INTERVIEWS: Medaya Ocher

Editor’s Note: This is the second 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. 

Meet Medaya Ocher, Deputy Fiction Managing Editor.

What do you do and why? 

I’m one of the fiction editors here at LARB. Why? How far back should I go? I really love fiction, I’ve worked on it for quite some time academically, but I wanted to bridge that divide that sometimes exists between academia and the rest of the world. I also wanted a literary community in Los Angeles, and I found one at LARB.

What is your favorite place to write/edit outside of your home? 

I rent a desk in an all-women’s work space near my house. There’s a huge cart full of tea and some very intelligent, cool women work there. It’s also very fun to tell men that they’re just categorically unwelcome. It really upsets them.

What is your favorite thing to drink while writing/editing

Sparkling water, because it feels very indulgent.

NASA asks you to select one piece of art/literature/music/film to send into space that will explain our civilization to aliens. What do you choose and why? 

What sort of question is this? Why would NASA ask me to do this? Just to make me miserable? No thank you NASA, go trick someone else.

Share a cultural moment/experience you had in 2015 that you really enjoyed.

I loved Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts. I read it on the plane, in the middle seat, and I was crying by the end, which was embarrassing. I wanted to hide my face but also just pass it down and tearily wave my hands, and make everybody read it.

Share a cultural moment/experience you had in 2015 that you really didn’t enjoy. 

I somehow found myself watching the MTV VMAs this past September and let me tell you, that was just awful. Somehow I sat through the whole thing, but I was just bewildered the entire time. What is anger? What are tears? Did Miley Cyrus just call Snoop her “Mammy”? It was just a series of events and emotions and performances that I could not understand at all.

What is the one question you always wish people would ask in interviews? Now answer it!

I wish people would ask about personal ghost stories. It would take too long for me to answer that here, but I’m happy to do it in person, always.

Maciak

THE LARB END-OF-YEAR EDITOR INTERVIEWS: Phillip Maciak

Editor’s Note: This is the first 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. 

Meet Phillip Maciak, special correspondent for Dear TV.

What do you do and why? 

I teach film studies, and I write for “Dear Television” at LARB because I’m lucky.

What is your favorite place to write/edit outside of your home? 

I theoretically like to write at work, but whenever students come in for meetings they laugh at me because my office is so small. I’m told I will have a new, larger, office soon, but that utopian future is contingent upon the completion of a large construction project in my building, so I’m not optimistic. We spent part of this summer in Austin, TX, and I got a lot of writing done at a place called Thunderbird Coffee. Maybe that’s an uncool place, I don’t know. Either way, I got the last stamp on my coffee card the day we left, so look out Austin, I’ll be back in January, and I will be redeeming my free coffee.

What is your favorite thing to drink while writing/editing?

I drink coffee when I write. I shouldn’t.

NASA asks you to select one piece of art/literature/music/film to send into space that will explain our civilization to aliens. What do you chose and why? 

Thanks, NASA! I would send The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. I’ve been singing parts of it over and over to my infant daughter to calm her down recently, and I am very bad at singing, so that suggests to me that there’s something about Pet Sounds that is good in a transcendent way, and the aliens will get it even if they don’t have ears or prefer The Beatles or something crazy like that. Also, my daughter is like a cute little alien, so that bodes well.

Share a cultural moment/experience you had in 2015 that you really enjoyed. 

So, last February, my film seminar was reading a Jonathan Crary essay about subjective vision and the history of optics, which can occasionally be difficult material. And then, #TheDress happened, and it was like one of those ripped-from-the-headlines Law and Order episodes. Something stupid happens on Instagram, and then all of a sudden we’re participating in a national conversation about the science and psychology of color perception and re-connecting with a lost sense of visual wonder on our iPhones. I think a lot of people remember it as just another dumb internet thing like cats and cucumbers, but when’s the last time a meme got hundreds of thousands of people to read up on chromatic axes? (Also, it’s black and blue—open your eyes!)  

Share a cultural moment/experience you had in 2015 that you really didn’t enjoy. 

We saw Sleater-Kinney play at the Pagaent in St. Louis this April. I didn’t really enjoy that that show ended.

What is the one question you always wish people would ask in interviews? Now answer it!

Nobody wants to hear my ranked list of Elisabeth Moss reaction shots from Mad Men. 

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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!

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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.

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“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.