The Los Angeles Review of Books

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Friendship and Mortality in a Plague Year: Sigrid Nunez on What Are You Going Through

Subscribe on Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Author Sigrid Nunez, who won the National Book Award for 2018’s The Friend, joins Kate and Eric to talk about her new novel, What Are You Going Through, which focuses on the narrator’s close relationship to a friend with a terminal illness. The work revolves around witnessing the lives and needs of others;...

The Politics of American Space: Red, Blue, Purple

AFTER YEARS OF DRIVING my vintage Studebaker Lark around Los Angeles, living in Venice Beach, leading a freelance life that didn’t involve high-rises, I faced a revolving door for the first time in a decade when I moved back to New York in the mid-1980s. And, well, yes, to tell the embarrassing truth, I had to think about how to approach this contraption....

Subverting Mao: The Roots of Minjian Activism in China

WHEN CITIZENS OF HONG KONG demonstrated last summer to protest the encroachment of Beijing’s rule in their city, they used some distinctive tactics. Although as many as two million people were in the streets at one point and protest activity lasted for many months, the participants did not claim an organization and their leaders kept low profiles. Outbreaks...

Man in the Maze: A Conversation with Robert Silverberg

THE LONG AND VARIED career of science fiction author Robert Silverberg can almost be viewed as a microcosm of the genre’s development over the past seven decades. Starting out in the world of fandom, Silverberg edited a popular zine in the early 1950s, then turned to professional writing during the SF boom of the mid-’50s, producing hundreds of stories...

The Untold Suffragists: An Conversation with Bridget Quinn

BRIDGET QUINN’S FIRST BOOK, Broad Strokes, 15 Women Who Made Art and History (in That Order), was published in 2017. She portrays the lives and work of an eclectic group of not-so-famous female artists, including Lee Krasner (who also happened to be Jackson Pollock’s wife), San Francisco sculptor Ruth Asawa, and contemporary artist Kara Walker. Broad...

The Patient Ambition of John Milton: A Conversation with Thom Satterlee

THOM SATTERLEE’S God’s Liar, a short novel published in January by Slant Books, tells of John Milton’s brief sojourn in Chalfont St. Giles in Buckinghamshire. At that time, the blind poet was fleeing the plague in London and finishing Paradise Lost. Oliver Cromwell had been defeated, and so the Puritan writer was out of favor with the government of...

The Mycophile’s Plea: On Merlin Sheldrake’s “Entangled Life”

FUNGI ARE HAVING a moment. Last winter, the shoestring documentary Fantastic Fungi was an enormous grassroots success with round-the-block lines and sold-out screenings. The film came on the heels of Michael Pollan’s best seller on psychedelic science, How to Change Your Mind (2018). Just a few years earlier, anthropologist Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing’s book...

Black Childhood as Idyll: On Vivian Gibson’s “The Last Children of Mill Creek”

THIS PAST APRIL, the Cleveland-based indie press Belt Publishing released The Last Children of Mill Creek, a memoir by Vivian Gibson. At just 150 pages, the book is a spare, elegant jewel of a work, chronicling the author’s childhood growing up in segregated St. Louis in the 1950s. In 1959, when Gibson was eight years old, her thriving downtown African...

An Amorphous Roadmap For Solidarity: On Adam Eli’s “The New Queer Conscience”

“QUEER PEOPLE ANYWHERE are responsible for queer people everywhere,” Adam Eli insists over the course of The New Queer Conscience, his manifesto on how his Jewish faith informs his social justice activism. It’s the type of slogan that encapsulates the allure of joining a movement, encouraging people to expand their horizons and inquire how and where...

“He Drank It Black”: On Dinah Lenney’s “Coffee”

WHAT DOES COFFEE do to you? Dinah Lenney’s Coffee is a free-form exploration of such surprisingly complicated questions: Why do we drink coffee? What gives it its power? Humans have been considering these and other coffee-related queries (like “Is it good for my health?” and “Is it good for my society?”) for centuries, ever since they first encountered...

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