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A Blank Page as Big as the World: An Interview with Vanessa Hua

By Olga Kreimer

Like the apocryphal frogs splashing in their warming water until the inevitable end, the characters in Vanessa Hua’s debut, Deceit and Other Possibilities, get into their predicaments first slowly, then very fast. Driven into impossible circumstances by hubris or ambition, desperation pushes them to try any exit. Though their troubles are specific, the unsettling sense of scaling walls too smooth for traction as the water starts to bubble is painfully familiar. That futility — the gaps between what Hua’s characters want and what they get to have — makes the reader root for the break-ins, gunshots, and fires that are their last resorts. It’s easy to recognize the desires that drive them, so even extreme measures feel like reasonable escalation when nothing else works. Continue reading

Tom Hayden, politician and anti-Vietnam War activist; David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post journalist; and Marilyn Young, New York University history professor discuss how the Vietnam War divided the nation and shaped American culture. The “War at Home” panel discussion on Wednesday, April 27, 2016, was moderated by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan as part of the LBJ Library’s three-day Vietnam War Summit.

LBJ Library photo by Jay Godwin 04/27/2016.

In Memory of Tom Hayden

By Darryl Holter

I was saddened to learn of the death of Tom Hayden yesterday morning.  I read a lot of his writings in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, and was especially affected by The Port Huron Statement, a manifesto for the New Left and one of the most important political documents of the times, which was largely written by Tom.  I talked to Tom once at an airport when he was working on Jerry Brown’s campaign for President.   A few years later I wrote him to ask some organizational questions about his LA-based group, Campaign for Economic Democracy, and he wrote back and answered them. Continue reading

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Eight Nasty Women Define Success: Grace Bonney’s In the Company of Women

By Lauren Kessler

October 17th was National Boss’s Day — appropriate timing for Grace Bonney’s tour promoting her new book In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs. Bonney, of Design*Sponge fame, moderated a discussion panel that evening at UCLA’s Freud Playhouse, which was hosted by Book Soup and featured eight of the women she interviews in her book: author Roxane Gay, Native fashion designer icon Bethany Yellowtail, comedy writer Shadi Petosky, founder of TransTech Social Enterprises Angelica Ross, artist Tanya Aguiñiga of Aguiñiga Design, founder of Oh Joy graphic design studio Joy Cho, and co-founders of Block Shop Lily and Hopie Stockman. Continue reading

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Remembering Tom Hayden

By Mike Davis

Fifty-two years ago this December, an obscure group of young activists, Students for a Democratic Society, held a national council meeting in New York to discuss the next year’s work.  As I recall there were about forty people present, some of them recent veterans of Freedom Summer, others peace and civil rights activists at campuses such as Swarthmore, Michigan, Chicago, Harvard and Tufts.     Continue reading

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Heroes, Fantasies, and Families: What Went Into the First Korean Novels?

By Charles Montgomery

The LARB Korea Blog is currently featuring selections from The Explorer’s History of Korean Fiction in Translation, Charles Montgomery’s book-in-progress that attempts to provide a concise history, and understanding, of Korean literature as represented in translation. You can find links to previous selections at the end of the post. Continue reading

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Meet the Characters Inhabiting Francis Ford Coppola, Errol Flynn, and Cecil B. DeMille’s Old Haunt

By Alina Cohen

“Los Angeles, in my humble opinion, is moving more towards community,” said writer and filmmaker Cameron Crowe, who wrote the introduction to photographer Pamela Littky’s new book, The Villa Bonita, out from Kehrer Verlag this past September. Littky, who is known best for her celebrity portraits, is “capturing a new spirit of togetherness,” Crowe expounded. “People do, you know, need the smell of another person’s skin and a feeling that there is somebody on the other side of the wall.” Continue reading

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Text is Text: An Interview with Mauro Javier Cardenas

By Sam Jaffe Goldstein

Mauro Javier Cardenas’ formally experimental debut novel Revolutionaries Try Again, out September 6th from Coffee House House Press, probes the question of whether or not a novel should even be concerned with narrative. It suggests that, instead, it is the depiction of our internal minds that matters. An Ecuadorian expat who lives in San Francisco returns to Ecuador to attempt a run at the presidency with his friends from high school. But what follows is not a tale of political hijinx, it is an exploration into the interiors of the characters as they navigate their dark, cold worlds. Continue reading

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Rock and Literature: On Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize

By Kevin Dettmar

I’ve just returned from a wonderful small conference at the National Humanities Center called “Novel Sounds.” At its most specific, conversation focused on the role played by rock ‘n’ roll in contemporary American fiction; more broadly, presentations engaged with the fruitful — if sometimes stealthy, but in any event mutual — give-and-take between writing and contemporary popular music. Continue reading

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Pivoting with Kurt Campbell—U.S. Policy Toward Asia in the Era of China’s Rise

By Graham Webster

Beginning with its title, The Pivot: The Future of American Statecraft in Asia, Kurt Campbell’s latest book faces the challenge of signaling both continuity and change. In rightfully claiming partial credit for developing the Obama administration’s Asia policy and making the case for continuing on a similar path, he nonetheless subtly breaks from the White House, which calls the policy the “rebalance to the Asia-Pacific,” to advance the “Pivot to Asia” brand more closely associated with the State Department when he served in it under Secretary Hillary Clinton. Continue reading