"I cannot live without books." -- Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Holiday Gift Ideas for Her

Gentlemen! Look no further than the Book Soup holiday catalog. We've got what you need for your lady who loves to read...

1) Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham - $28.00

 “Lena Dunham” is not a person anymore. In the few years since “she” has skyrocketed to fame, her name has become a discursive lodestar around which a constellation of buzzwords has gathered: Millenials, Feminism, White Privilege, Twentysomethings, Oversharing, $3,000,000 advances, and on and on. What’s often lost in this flurry of passionately glib chatter is the fact that she’s an honest to god artist. And aside from being a bang-up filmmaker with a powerful vision (when is she gonna make her next movie anyway?), she happens to be a warm and generous writer prepared to confront the most embarrassing and endearing aspects of herself in the interest of making you feel, dear Reader, less awkward and alone.

2) Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood - $25.95

Fresh off the triumph of her MaddAddam trilogy, Atwood releases this collection of nine stories. Revolving around themes like lost love and getting older, each of these tales is a gem which could fuel a novel-length book if Atwood had felt so inclined. She kept them short, though, which means we get to enjoy even more of her wonderfully realized characters and settings.

3) Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers and Swells: The Best of Early Vanity Fair edited by Graydon Carter with David Friend - $29.95 

From 1913 through the Jazz Age, Vanity Fair served as a hub of American culture. Featuring essays by legendary writers ranging from Gertrude Stein to Langston Hughes, this celebratory collection shines a spotlight on a pivotal time in American history. It provides fascinating insight, all with a wink and a smile. This book is perfect for Gatsby fans, jazz enthusiasts, and/or prohibitionists.

4) Yes Please by Amy Poehler - $28.99

We want to sit at her table! Who wouldn't want pearls of wisdom from the funniest person in Hollywood? She's part advice counselor, part raconteur, and ALL laughs! It's filled with funny stories from her life, too. Hard to believe this is her first book. We'll say yes, please, to the audio book as well.

5) Vivian Maier: A Photographer Found by John Maloof - $80.00
Finally! An all encompassing collection of the incredibly evocative street photography from the now infamous nanny whose work was stumbled upon posthumously by a Chicago historian. Featuring never-before-seen content from her journals and recordings, and lovingly compiled by Maloof himself, this monograph is not to be missed.

For even more gift ideas, browse our holiday catalog here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

STAFF REVIEW: Why L.A.? Pourquoi Paris?

Why L.A.? Pourquoi Paris? An Artistic Pairing of Two Iconic Cities by Diane Ratican.

Many cities of the world like to claim their artistic dominance over cultures both historic and pop but rarely do they live up to the hype. No one can argue about either Paris or L.A.'s right to cultural influence but Ratican makes the point that the two cities have so much more in common than most people would first consider. With the humorous and colorful assistance of illustrators Eric Giriat and Nick Lu she brings both cities charms to life on the page. This is a must have for any lover of Paris style and Hollywood panache.

Reviewed by Brein
Artist: Nick Lu
Artist: Nick Lu
Artist: Nick Lu


Tell us why you love Los Angeles and/or why you love Paris in the comments section below. We'll choose a name at random on Wednesday, December 17th. The winner will receive a FREE COPY of Why L.A.? Pourquoi Paris? An Artistic Pairing of Two Iconic Cities by Diane Ratican! The winner will need to pick up their book in store. Good Luck!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Holiday Gift Ideas for Him

Struggling with what to gift the men in your life this holiday season? We've all been there. Luckily, any one of these selections from the Book Soup holiday catalog might save you the headache of shopping for your boyfriend, brother, or dad. Whether he's a Civil War enthusiast or diehard Sons of Anarchy fan, we've got a book for you!

1. Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk - $25.95

From the author of Fight Club comes a new character, C. Linus Maxwell, with the devilish and enticing nickname, "Climax-Well." Deliciously deviant and sure to be a pageturner. The tag line reads, "A billion husbands are about to be replaced." Need I say more?

2. Easy Street (The Hard Way): A Memoir by Ron Perlman - $26.99

Ron Perlman has had a long and distinguished career in film, but it hasn't been easy! He earned praise in big hit films and TV shows and still suffered through long periods of unemployment. Such is the life of a veteran character actor from the mean streets of NYC. Still, he scored big in Hollywood hits like the Hellboy films & Sons of Anarchy. Perlman does it his way in this fun romp. 

3. Smithsonian Civil War in 3D: The Life and Death of the Soldier by Michael Stephenson & the Smithsonian Institute - $34.95

Move over, Mathew Brady! Take a seat, Alexander Gardner! Pipe down, Timothy H. O’Sullivan! There’s a new way to experience the Civil War and it’s got one dimension on all of you. With the help of this stereoscopic viewer and accompanying paperback, containing excerpts from actual soldiers’ journals along with detailed descriptions of the 3D images, this is as close as you’re gonna get to the horror and the heroism of the Civil War. Immersive, educational, and really quite neat.

4. Here: A Graphic Novel by Richard McGuire - $35.00

The idea of time and space is relative, an invisible accordion of moments. These footnotes hang with temporal gravity, sticky with significance in the mind that assigns it, but remain singular as an experience. Richard McGuire examines this idea in his brilliant graphic novel (expanded from the comic) Here, focusing on a single space while highlighting multiple points and moments in time the invisible accordion is exposed. Here is considered a groundbreaking work whose influence on comics has been echoed for decades.

5. Drunken Cookbook by Milton Crawford - $10.00

We've all been there, drunk and hungry. It's a special time. A time when Taco Bell suddenly sounds like the best idea ever, and the liquor store suddenly feels like a four star restaurant. In other words, a time of bad decisions, decisions you will pay for the next day. Fear not, salvation has arrived and it's called The Drunken Cookbook, and it runs the gamut of delicious recipes to accommodate all of your drunken food desires. As an added bonus, the recipes come with Milton Crawford's hilarious commentary, considering the readers' intoxication level in conjunction with the difficulty level of each dish. Bottoms up!

For more gift ideas, browse our holiday catalog here.

Don't miss author John Safran tonight!

“Those that have been in my vicinity in the last few months know how much I love this book. I leapt for joy when I saw that John had written a book, and literally rushed home to read it in one sitting. John Safran is nothing less than a journalistic god. He is a man with a mission. That mission is to discover the truth behind the weird, the crazy, and the out of the ordinary. He has pushed the “envelope” far past its capacity. I’ve been following his career for quite a while, and this book is nothing led than amazing. His writing is captivating, delicious, and will have you questioning things you never thought you would.  I give this book five star Champion approval, and guarantee that you will be just as happy with it as I am. Read on, my friends.”

– Sarah Anne, Vroman’s Bookstore bookseller


Friday, November 14, 2014

5 Questions with author Meline Toumani

1) You live in New York City, but I'm sure you're aware of L.A.'s massive Armenian population (I live in Little Armenia myself!) Have you experienced any differences in attitude toward the Turks between Armenian communities within the US, or do you feel the enmity is more or less universal?

If you don't mind, I'd like to re-orient this question a bit. I absolutely don't want to suggest that the most important thing about my book is the question of Armenians hating Turks or vice-versa. Even though I'm critical of the unchecked hatred that some Armenians feel toward all things Turkish, the most primary fact here is that this hatred is rooted in the genocide Armenians suffered under Turkish leaders in the final years of the Ottoman Empire, and the hatred has been fueled by the way modern Turkey continues to deny and obscure the full reality of what happened.

Having said that, there are all sorts of fascinating variations in the way different pockets of the Armenian diaspora in the U.S. relate to these issues. In the northeast--especially Massachusetts-- the Armenian community dates to the late 1800s, even before the genocide. It then grew into a robust and tightly-organized community when waves of genocide survivors settled there in the 1920s and onward. Now, that community is largely made up of people whose parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents were genocide survivors, so naturally the genocide looms large. At the same time, it's a very Americanized community--a large percentage of Armenian families in the northeast have been in the U.S. for generations--so there is also a phenomenon that was described and labeled by the Armenian sociologist Anny Bakalian in a book she published many years ago, called Armenian-Americans: From Being to Feeling Armenian. It's a complex idea, "from being to feeling" an ethnicity, but a simplified version is that as a diaspora community becomes more assimilated, collective symbols and rallying points (whether as benign as food or as charged as genocide) take on a greater role in the community's life. These symbols help prevent an identity from fading.  

By contrast, in Los Angeles, as any Angeleno knows, there are pockets of the Armenian community (and not just in Glendale!) where it seems as if assimilation has hardly made a dent, and there's much less of that transition "from being to feeling." To begin with, the community in LA is largely the result of more recent migrations-- people who left Iran or Lebanon or Armenia itself in the wake of revolutions in the past 30-40 years. They are newer immigrants. And a Los Angeles Armenian can live a fully Armenian life, having minimal contact with non-Armenians, if they choose. There are several Armenian private schools serving students from kindergarten through senior year, Armenian groceries and small businesses fulfilling absolutely any need you can think of, from hair styling to plumbing to real estate. For these Armenians, "being" Armenian remains intact in a different way, for better or worse.

A faster shorthand would be to say that Armenians have ended up in the diaspora after living in various other countries, each with its own context-- Armenia, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and of course Turkey. Members of the latter community-- Armenians who have come from Istanbul in the past 30 years or so-- are often still involved with Turkey to an extent, with relatives and friends there, with a grasp of the Turkish language, history and political situation, so although they know better than anyone the particular oppressions Armenians in Turkey have faced, they also tend to be more able to hold all the complexities and ambiguities in their minds-- to resist essentializing and stereotyping, to understand that one individual Turk is not the same as, say, a Turkish nationalist politician writing anti-Armenian propaganda. In the wake of the 2007 assassination of Hrant Dink, an Istanbul-Armenian journalist, the diaspora in general is just starting to learn from the complex experience of Istanbul Armenians. Before that they were regarded as black sheep for having stayed "among the enemy." I think this new learning and awareness is a very positive development.

2) You've said that when you were first starting out in your career as a journalist, you avoided writing about Armenian issues and the genocide. What changed and inspired you to write THERE WAS AND THERE WAS NOT?

The short answer: I couldn't avoid it; I had too many ideas and feelings that I needed to explore and attempt to resolve. The longer answer: I didn't want to be pigeon-holed as a person who was only writing about her ethnic background. And I doubted that these topics would be of wider popular interest (outside the Armenian community). But then I realized two important things: 1) Every American who writes, say, about Hawthorne or Melville, every southerner who writes about Faulkner, is also, in a sense, writing about his or her "tribe," drawing from the world he or she knows and feels and wants to interpret; I decided that embracing the intellectual and creative momentum I got from my own background wasn't something to be ashamed of; it would only be a problem if I failed to bring adequate self-questioning to the process. 2) Living and working in New York, surrounded by curious and brilliant writers and thinkers from all backgrounds, I started to understand how truly universal some of the dynamics of identity and tribe and self and "other" were, and I wanted to speak to these universal themes by mining, deeply and honestly, the conflict between Armenians and Turks. Every writer knows that the universal arises out of the particular. I've been deeply gratified by the way non-Armenian and non-Turkish readers have understood this about my book.

3) Can you tell us a little bit about what the title means to you?

Throughout the Middle East, including in Turkey and Armenia, There Was and There Was Not is the way you start a story: like "once upon a time." I was moved by the idea that Turks and Armenians could start their folktales and legends with these same words-- this same announcement of possibility-- but then, applying this logic to 1915, had ended up with such drastically different narratives. Of course, 1915 is not a legend or a folktale, and I'm not by any means saying that the two "versions" are equal. They aren't. But as a writer, I wanted to reach for this openness in my own mind-- not about what happened during the genocide, but about how I might try to understand the Turkish mindset, the learning process and emotional experience that the average Turk might be bringing to the table on the genocide issue: how did they learn what they learned? What did they truly believe? I felt that the only way to make a meaningful change in the endless "yes-it-was," "no-it-wasn't" rhetoric about the genocide was to embrace the absurdity and complexity of two nations living by these two clashing historical narratives. I also felt that although Turkey's denial of the genocide was a tragedy in itself, we are now at a point with this issue where that denial-- and the resulting natural response of even more extreme fixation among Armenians-- had come to hold the entire topic hostage, and so I wanted to frame my book by accepting this as a starting point, not for historiography but for the sociology of the situation. This is complicated because it can be misunderstood too easily.

 4) What do you hope readers will take away from reading this book, and how do you think non-Armenian and Turkish readers might be able to relate to it?

I'm still learning about this, and people's different reactions are fascinating. Ironically, I've discovered that among early readers of the book, the non-Armenian and non-Turkish readers tend to be most moved and most able to absorb the book's message. I won't try to summarize that message here; if I could, I wouldn't have needed 300 pages to get it right. But a reviewer on Amazon, of all places, put it in a way that I found perfectly accurate and valuable: she said that it would behoove us all to think about "our own version of Turkey"-- the family histories and prejudices we were raised with, the baggage, the sense of who we are and who is our "other," what are our own "unspeakables." The book is, among other things, my attempt to shed this baggage for myself: to examine it and then move into a mental space where I don't feel controlled by my history -- as a writer, as a human. And this process doesn't need to be a question of ethnic identity; the same can apply to family dynamics, or religion, or class, or sexuality, or a whole host of other labels and groupings we use to give our lives shape and meaning-- groupings that sometimes inhibit us as much as they give us security and purpose. My hope for the book, out in the world, is that it can be used in classrooms -- high school, college, or graduate school -- to generate debate among students about what the analogous identity issues are for them, whatever their background. 

5) What developments in the situation have you seen since you finished writing the book, if any?

While I was in Turkey, the country was undergoing major changes-- and it has continued to change. When I left, although Erdogan had already been Prime Minister for several years, he was still fighting to secure his power over Turkish society. Many progressive-minded people hoped that by challenging some of the harsh orthodoxies of Kemalism, and the military power that upheld it, Erdogan would make more room for minorities and underdogs, and for elements of democracy that had not fit into the Kemalist project. Unfortunately, he went far beyond that and has ended up replicating and even furthering the old autocratic model that those progressives hoped he would dismantle. Although there were some positive by-products along the way, such as increased dialogue around the Kurdish issue and even the genocide issue, for the most part the changes he's brought about now appear unhealthy for Turkish society in new ways. I feel a deep attachment to Turkey after having lived there for two and a half years, and watching from a distance, I feel sad to see his steamrolling of a culture and nation that, like any culture or nation, has so much beauty in it, despite its traumas and challenges.

Interviewed by Adriana Widdoes, Book Soup Event Host/Marketing Assistant

Meline Toumani discusses and signs There Was and There Was Not: A Journey Through Hate and Possibility in Turkey, Armenia, and Beyond on Tuesday, November 18th at 7pm. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

5 Questions with comics illustrator Drew Friedman

Photo by Greg Preston

1) You're known for your caricatures and portraits of people. Why did you decide to draw portraits of comic book artists in your new book? What interests you about them?

I’ve been a comic book fan almost my entire life, probably since I was three, so it was unavoidable. My dad, the author Bruce Jay Friedman, was a magazine editor in the 1950s and early 1960s at a company called Magazine Management, and he worked at the very next desk to Stan Lee, the editor of Marvel comics. As early as I can my remember, I had stacks of brand new Marvel comics deposited in my bedroom every Friday evening via my dad. I had amassed a huge collection by the time I was six. I loved to draw at an early age and my goal was to be a MAD magazine artist, to join the ranks of the "usual gang of idiots," something I would finally accomplish… at age 35! I also have had a fascination for comics history and wanted to learn as much as I could about the artists who I most admired, as well as learn what they actually looked like, something that was not always easy to accomplish. The great MAD comics artist Will Elder’s family commissioned a portrait of Will from me shortly after he died and that’s what triggered this series of portraits. Will’s longtime creative partner Harvey Kurtzman, who had been one of my teachers, as well as Will Eisner, at the School of Visual Arts in New York was the next portrait, then several more EC artists, leading to some Golden Age comics greats like Eisner, cover subject Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and Siegel & Shuster, and then I realized I had the makings of a book.

2) Your work is visual. Without the luxury of words, how do you communicate each of your subjects' specific stories/personalities/pasts in your portraits? With what details?

I suppose I belong to the “Warts & all” school of illustration, meaning I don’t try to pretty things up with my work. I want to show what the individual really looked like, not a glamorized portrait, which people seem to appreciate. I like to draw people older or very old because you get to see their lives etched into their faces. Every line, wrinkle and liver spot tells the story of their life. Drawing younger faces is finally boring for me. It's too bland and uninteresting, although I do admire a beautiful face. I like Ava Gardner’s quote when she was asked late in life why she didn’t get a facelift: “Honey, I earned every line."

In many cases, what is going on in the background of my drawings is just as important, if not more important, to convey the “story” of the individual I’m depicting. Even a subtle gesture, a slightly raised eyebrow or a half smile, is essential in my communicating the subject’s story.

3) Do you like everyone you draw?

It does help to like and admire people I draw. I don’t necessarily want to spend days staring into the face of someone I loathe as I’m rendering their features. But it also sometimes helps to not admire someone. In Old Jewish Comedians, I included many comedians I don’t especially love as comedians. The majority of them I do love and respect, but I personally find Eddie Cantor and Red Buttons, among others, to be not very funny and even somewhat cloying. What I do love about them all are their wonderful, expressive faces, which still want to have attention paid to them even in old age and dotage, almost demanding it. That’s what I attempted to capture in my portraits, how in-your-face they all were. Even at the end none of them were shy or withdrawn, with the possible exception of Woody Allen. The Heroes of the Comics from my new book are for the most part more average looking, demure, low-key folks, not demanding attention aside from a few like notorious publicity hounds like Stan Lee and Bob Kane. Of course with much of my editorial political work, it certainly helped to dislike the likes of a Sarah Palin or Dick Cheney. How could one not? But I do pride myself on being an equal opportunity offender. I’ve taken shots at both Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in my work. A good, honest political artist can never be one-sided.

4) Is there anyone you wanted to include in your latest book who didn't make the cut?

I had a long list that I finally had to cut down when the book was being planned, so finally I chose the 85 most essential early comic book artists, writers, publishers and editors, those who began in comics between 1935 at the very dawn of the industry, to 1955, when the Senate hearing on juvenile delinquency basically sanitized mainstream comic books and helped to put many creators out of work. I regret not including some creators who I greatly admire, among them Captain Marvel writer Otto Binder, artists Nick Carty, Don Heck and Gene Colon, and early DC editor/artist Vin Sullivan. I also attempted to include more female creators, but like most businesses of that era, it was mainly a men’s club. Still, I feel I included the most important and lasting, the cream of the crop.

5) What's next for you?

I have a few projects I’m weighing right now. I have considered doing a sequel to Heroes of the Comics, but I might not want to repeat myself. It’s also possible that I’ll jump a decade or so to the late 1960s and create a series of portraits (and eventual book) of more underground-type cartoonists like Robert Crumb, the ZAP artists, Jay Lynch, Rory Hayes, Bill Stout, Harvey Pekar, etc. I admittedly - with just a few exceptions like the early sixties Silver Age Marvel comics, Ogden Whitney’s baffling “Herbie," and the bizarre Jimmy Olson comics - pretty much lose interest in most mainstream comic books after the mid-1950s, when EC and Lev Gleason publications were driven out of business and comics for the most part became safe and bland. Underground comics exploded in the later 60s, a breath of fresh air, and honestly I still remember that jolt I got when I first was exposed to Robert Crumb’s work, and the other ZAP artists. If I do that book, it would also lead up to more contemporary creators I greatly admire who were also influenced by the undergrounds - artists like Chris Ware, Charles Burns and Daniel Clowes, whose portrait I just completed. So we’ll see. Stay tuned!

Drew Friedman discusses and signs Heroes of the Comics with special guest William Stout on Friday, November 14th at 7pm.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

6 Questions for T. Jefferson Parker

1. You write mystery very well so well that you have written 20 crime novels. What got you started
down the path of mystery writing?

I was reading the authors they don't let English majors read, such as Raymond Chandler and John D. MacDonald and Ross MacDonald, and I thought: hey, I want to write a mystery. They're smart and fun to read. So I began conjuring what became Laguna Heat. 

2. Besides dreaming up the dark details and characters in your own mind where do you pull inspiration from?

Place inspires me. California small towns and cities. I also keep physical clip files, big plastic bins where I keep newspaper and magazines clippings, Internet stuff, anything that looks promising. I always dig through the bins when I'm fishing for a new story.

3. How do you feel your writing has developed since your first book? How have you grown as a writer?

I make fewer wrong turns. I deliberate more before I start a novel. I'm more economical with the words and I've learned to trust my instincts.

4. On the flipside of that, what areas of writing would you still like to grow in?

You can't write dialogue that's too sharp. When I look at Elmore or McCarthy or McGuane I think: man, that's good! I'd like to find room in my novels for humor. Not comedy, but the kind of out-of-left-field humor that brightens a scene.

5. You took a slight detour with Full Measure in that it’s not a mystery novel. How was your writing
process different with a literary novel than with mysteries?

With a literary novel you don't have the mystery/thriller conventions to either pen you in, or to lean on. So your whole viewpoint changes. I wrote Full Measure in between thrillers, in my "spare time," if you can call it that. I was able to work more slowly and deliberately because the book wasn't under contract. That allowed me to feel my way into the story. I wasn't sure I could pull it off until I'd written the last page and thought, yes, okay, you've written a good novel.

6. What authors inspire you? Who do you like to read?

I've been reading war literature lately, born of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. So, Phil Klay, Kevin Powers, Ben Fountain, Karl Marlantes. I'm continually inspired by the Old Testament and Shaekspeare's tragedies, all the way up through Steinbeck, Heller, Jim Harrison and Don Winslow. The list is long and varied.

T. Jefferson Parker discusses and signs Full Measure on Monday, October 27th at 7pm. 


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Staff Review: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

By Hannah

    Recently, there has been a very audible exclamation of “feminism” in celebrity-land. Stars like Miley Cyrus, Beyonce, Amy Poehler, Emma Watson, and Patrick Stewart have all proclaimed their feminism. However, there are far more celebrities who shy away from the label than there are who proudly own it. Shailene Woodley rejects the word “feminist” because, she says, she “love[s] men.” Sarah Jessica Parker calls herself a “humanist, not a feminist.” So, why all this rejection of the word “feminism?” As Carrie Underwood so succinctly put it, “that can come off as a negative connotation.”

    Roxane Gay, whose favorite color is pink, who reads Vogue without irony, and who “willingly give[s] blow jobs,” explores, in her brilliant essay collection Bad Feminist, how the word “feminist” has been contorted into a synonym for “angry, sex-hating, man-hating victim lady person.” Beyond that, feminism, until very recently, seemed to only concern itself with the white, heterosexual, cisgendered, college educated, middle class experience of womanhood. This is, indeed, a problem. However, unlike Shailene Woodley or Carrie Underwood, Gay is unwilling to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Bad Feminist examines the humanity of the movement-- it is imperfect, it is messy, it has long strides left to make, but, does that mean feminism is unworthy of our association with it? After all, how many of us are perfectly clean, completely rational Adults-with-a-capital-A?

    The vulnerability and honesty with which Gay writes these essays is part, in my opinion, of what makes this collection so important. I, like Gay, am a both a “bad,” and a very vocal, feminist. I get more excited about new dresses than I do about political debates. I almost exclusively wear sparkly ballet flats, which aren't exactly practical footwear. I like for the man to pay when I go on dates and, sometimes, I think that all I really want in life is to have a gaggle of babies. This does not mean that I am not a feminist. On the contrary, my  emphatic feminism comes from my desire to be recognized as a multi-faceted, complex, messy, imperfect individual. In other words, I am a person. Unfortunately, in the current social climate, my femininity does not allow for my personhood.

    Bad Feminist is a valuable work because it delves into that personhood. It is not just about feminism. It's about race, it's about sex, and it's about privilege, but it's also about Scrabble and The Hunger Games. It is a multi-faceted, complex, messy, imperfect, and totally engrossing, book. It is both relatable and critical. It is simple, but intricate. It is a fantastic read that will make you consider who you really are.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, Harper Perennial, $15.99


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A selection of ART book staff selections

From Keely
Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take.
The only time I've ever been brought to tears by art was at an exhibition - this exhibition in fact - of Hodges's. Powerful installation art that socks you in the gut and kisses it all better afterward.

From Hannah
What A Beautiful Day! Cindy Wang.
Too often, we forget how important it is to just be joyous and silly. Luckily, Cindy Wang is here to remind us!
Call the store for details! 310-659-3110

From Zane
The River Book. George Herms.
Over the last six decades, George Herms has recontextualized his artistic identity through rubbish. One of the last standing Beat-era assemblage artists, Herms's prolific body of work continues to provoke criticism and reflection on the inherent symbolism of detritus in an object obsessed culture.

From Lexi
This Is Warhol. Catherine Ingram.
What a deliciously appropriate and concise look into Warhol. Littered with nifty little facts about the man behind the glasses!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

5 Questions with author Tom Sturges

1. You've published two great books about parenting. Tell us about your new book Every Idea Is A Good Idea? You talked to a lot of people for this, right?

EVERY IDEA IS A GOOD IDEA is a book about Creativity.  It profiles the methods and techniques of some of the many writers and artists I have worked with, who I signed, or whose story is legend.  Although I spoke with and interviewed many famous people, not every big name got dropped because not everyone knows exactly what happens when they create.  I also look back over the years to describe the process of some of the greatest creators who ever lived, including Mozart and Beethoven and Michelangelo.

2. Getting the most out of creative people came in handy when you were president of Chrysalis Records. What was the best and worst thing about the music industry at that time?

I was actually President of Chrysalis Music, the publishing arm of the Chrysalis Group here in the USA.   These were great years in the industry, and I signed some amazing talent, including Smashing Pumpkins, Outkast and Goodie Mob, Slaughter, Green Jelly, and Tripping Daisy, among many others.  Not usually mentioned was one of my favorite misses, Billy Bizeau, an artistic muse who never achieved his due.  The key to running any successful business, now or then, is to surround yourself with the most creative and talented people you can find and afford, and then letting them do what they do best, whether songwriters, artists, producers or executives.

3. You teach a course at UCLA on the Music Business Now. From the outside looking in, it would seem the adaptable are the ones who survive. Is the model always changing?
Creativity is a disruptive force.  It changes the status quo, in every setting.   Think about how the automobile changed the world when it arrived, how the telephone completely altered the way we communicate with each other, how television changed the way we look at each other and the events that shape our lives.  But nothing has been more disruptive (and amazing) than the internet.  It's effect on the music business was to destroy the distribution model and the marketing and promotion protocols that had been in use for the previous fifty years.  Only the companies and artists that were able to adapt to its complete takeover have been successful.  We teach our students that change is not only the norm, it is the inevitable.

4. Who are the  creative people that inspire you?
I am easily inspired.  It might be a sidewalk artist recreating the Mona Lisa with chalk or my son playing me a new song he's just written.  But at the same time I am struck by the nature of creativity flowing during difficult times in the life of the person creating.  When in doubt about that fact, I listen to the later Mozart symphonies (39, 40 and 41), which are not only masterworks of creativity and harmony and melody, but arrived during the most stressful and financially painful times of his life.  I also find the single vision of a writer like Paul Simon to be a constant inspiration and the fact that he does it on his own, without collaborators, without co-writers, without any external pressure but his own will to leave his mark, leaves me awe-struck. 

5. The book is just landing now. What projects are on the horizon?

I have already finished my next book, a semi-autobiographical noire-ish memoir about how to break up or divorce and stay friends with your ex.  I also wrote a children's book about dogs that figure out how to communicate with their owners.  And I’m working with a writer in the UK on a project about my father's last ten years on this earth, as told through his plays and screenplays, and the letters he wrote to my mother during this period.  

Tom Sturges discusses and signs Every Idea Is a Good Idea on Friday, September 26th at 7pm.

Each purchase of Every Idea Is a Good Idea enters you into a raffle to win one of two signed and cancelled checks from film legend Preston Sturges!