Nelson George

Nelson George celebrates the release of his two new books, The Lost Treasures of R&B and The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture & Style with City Lights and Adam Mansbach.

Nelson George is an author, filmmaker, and lifelong resident of Brooklyn. His novels include the first two in his D Hunter mystery series, The Accidental Hunter and The Plot Against Hip Hop. Among his many nonfiction works are The Death of Rhythm & Blues, Hip Hop America, and the recently published The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture & Style. As a filmmaker he’s directed the documentaries Brooklyn Boheme for Revolt, The Announcement for ESPN, and Finding the Funk for VH1. The Lost Treasures of R&B, the third book in his D Hunter mystery series, is his latest novel.Adam Mansbach is a poet, novelist, and screenwriter. His fiction and essays have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Esquire, GQ,  the Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, and on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. He is the author of Angry Black White Boy, The End Of The Jews, Shackling Water, Rage is Back, and the New York Times Bestseller Go The Fuck To Sleep.  He lives in Berkeley, California.

Critical praise for The Hippest Trip in America:

“A kaleidoscopic trip through one of the brightest zones in the evolution of American culture.” —Booklist

“George’s in-depth look at a revered TV show is one of those rare music-centric books that will transcend its subject’s core fan base. Even those with just a casual interest in Soul Train will be happy to take this trip.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“30 years of rapier-keen social history and street-savvy cultural criticism.” —USA Today

“George’s book does a great job of assessing the sociological, stylistic and economic power of ‘Soul Train.'” —New York Daily News

“The definitive book on ‘Soul Train’” —New York Times Book Review

“George is one of the best music writers around… he crafts a compelling narrative.” —Andrea Battleground, AV Club

“A loving history.” —Pitchfork.com

“An engaging read for those wanting to understand more clearly why Soul Train is such a monumental part of popular-music history.” —SoulTracks.com

ZYZZYVA 30th Anniversary Party

Zyzzyva celebrates its 30th Anniversary at City Lights!

hosted by Laura Cogan and Oscar Villalon

with a special presentation by Octavio Solis, featured in the Zyzzyva Winter issue. Zyzzyva is publishing a piece of his called “Retablos,” vignettes of his youth in El Paso. Octavio will be offering a dramatic reading/performance of this work.

Joining Octavio will be two additional Zyzzyva authors, to be announced.

ZYZZYVA’s first issue was published in 1985, under founding editor Howard Junker. In 2011, Laura Cogan became ZYZZYVA’s first new editor in more than 25 years. She and Managing Editor Oscar Villalon make up ZYZZYVA’s editorial team.

The Zyzzyva publishing history is as illustrious as it is groundbreaking. This is the journal that first published Jim Gavin and Jill Soloway, F.X. Toole and Po Bronson—and introduced American readers to Haruki Murakami (in issue No. 13). Their list of contributors includes, among many others, Peter Orner, Kay Ryan, David Guterson, Tom Bissell, Tatjana Soli, Ron Carlson, Luis Alberto Urrea, Amy Hempel, D.A. Powell, Matthew Dickman, Herbert Gold, Daniel Sada, Adam Johnson, Karl Taro Greenfeld, Sandow Birk, Richard Misrach, Aimee Bender, Diego Enrique Osorno, Sherman Alexie, Daniel Handler, Adrienne Rich, Robert Hass, Czeslaw Milosz, Wanda Coleman, Raymond Carver, Tom Barbash, William T. Vollmann, Dagoberto Gilb, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Ed Ruscha, Richard Diebenkorn, Ursula K. Le Guin, Robert Creeley, and M.F.K. Fisher.

Every issue is a vibrant mix of established talents and new voices, providing an elegantly curated overview of contemporary arts and letters with a distinctly San Francisco perspective.

Paul Beatty

Joined by Oscar Villalon, Paul Beatty celebrates the release of his novel, The Sellout.

A biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality—the black Chinese restaurant.

Born in the “agrarian ghetto” of Dickens—on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles—the narrator of The Sellout resigns himself to the fate of lower-middle-class Californians: “I’d die in the same bedroom I’d grown up in, looking up at the cracks in the stucco ceiling that’ve been there since ’68 quake.” Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, he spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe that his father’s pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family’s financial woes. But when his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that’s left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral.

Fuelled by this deceit and the general disrepair of his hometown, the narrator sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California from further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town’s most famous resident—the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins—he initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.

Paul Beatty is the author of three novels—Slumberland, Tuff, and The White Boy Shuffle—and two books of poetry: Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce. He is the editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor. He lives in New York City.

Oscar Villalon is the Managing Editor of Zyzzyva Magazine and former Book Editor at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Advanced praise for The Sellout:

The Sellout is brilliant. Amazing. Like demented angels wrote it.” —Sarah Silverman

“I am glad that I read this insane book alone, with no one watching, because I fell apart with envy, hysterics, and flat-out awe. Is there a more fiercely brilliant and scathingly hilarious American novelist than Paul Beatty?” —Ben Marcus

“Paul Beatty has always been one of smartest, funniest, gutsiest writers in America, but The Sellout sets a new standard. It’s a spectacular explosion of comic daring, cultural provocation, brilliant, hilarious prose, and genuine heart.” —Sam Lipsyte

“Beatty, author of the deservedly highly praised The White Boy Shuffle (1996), here outdoes himself and possibly everybody else in a send-up of race, popular culture, and politics in today’s America . . . Beatty hits on all cylinders in a darkly funny, dead-on-target, elegantly written satire . . . [The Sellout] is frequently laugh-out-loud funny and, in the way of the great ones, profoundly thought provoking. A major contribution.” —Mark Levin, Booklist (starred review)

The Highway and the Wilderness: Dennis McNally and Jonah Raskin

An evening of discussion that centers around the ideas from two recently released books:

Dennis McNally celebrates the release of

On Highway 61: Music, Race, and the Evolution of Cultural Freedom

from Counterpoint Press

and

 

 

Jonah Raskin celebrates the release of

A Terrible Beauty

from Regent Press

discussion moderated by Peter Maravelis

On Highway 61 explores the historical context of the significant social dissent that was central to the cultural genesis of the sixties. The book is going to search for the deeper roots of American cultural and musical evolution for the past 150 years by studying what the Western European culture learned from African American culture in a historical progression that reaches from the minstrel era to Bob Dylan.

Shortly before he published Walden; or Life in the Woods, Henry David Thoreau called “The library a wilderness of books.” He also noted that while Americans were “clearing the forest in our westward progress, we are accumulating a forest of books in our rear, as wild and unexplored as any of nature’s primitive wildernesses.” In A Terrible Beauty: The Wilderness of American Literature, Jonah Raskin takes a long close look at the forest of books that poets, novelists and essayists mapped and explored before and after Thoreau. The first work of cultural criticism to look back at writing in the United States from the perspective of the contemporary environmental crisis, Raskin offers insights for students, teachers and lovers of literature as well as for backpackers and hikers who have trekked across untrammeled forests, deserts and mountains.

Dennis McNally received his Ph.D. in American History from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1977 for a biography of Jack Kerouac which was published by Random House in 1979 under the title Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, the Beat Generation, and America. He became the Grateful Dead’s authorized biographer in 1980 and the band’s publicist in 1984. In 2002, he published A Long Strange Trip/The Inside History of the Grateful Dead with Broadway Books, a division of Random House. It made the New York Times best seller list.

Jonah Raskin has taught American literature at Sonoma State University, the State University of New York at Stony Brook and as a Fulbright professor at the University of Antwerp and the University of Ghent in Belgium. The author of fifteen books, he earned his B.A. at Columbia College in New York, his M.A. at Columbia University and his Ph.D. at the University of Manchester, Manchester, England. He lives in northern California and has written for The San Francisco Chronicle, The L.A. Times, The Nation, The Redwood Coast Review and Catamaran.

Interview with Thomas Page McBee

Thomas Page McBee speaks to City Lights about his new book, Man Alive. In this recording of the interview, McBee talks about his writing process and how he came to write the memoir. He also talks about his work in The Rumpus and what lays ahead for him in his literary career.

ThomasMcBeeFor more about Man Alive, go here.

A Conversation Between Mylene Fernández-Pintado and Dick Cluster

pintadoclusterdoubleA short conversation between Mylene Fernández-Pintado, the author of A Corner of the World, and Dick Cluster, the translator. They talk about how they met and started to work together and also comment on the translation process of A Corner of the World.

About A Corner of the World:

A cautious, reserved professor of Spanish Literature, Marian has no idea that her quiet life is about to be turned upside down. When she’s asked to review the work of a young, ambitious first-time novelist, she meets Daniel, and their love affair leads her to question both the choices she’s made so far in her life and the opportunities she might yet still have.

Theirs is the story of an intense and impossible love, set in today’s Havana, a city where there can be no plans, where chance is the order of the day and a fierce sense of loyalty and pride coexists with the desire to live beyond the island’s isolation.

Josh Weil

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Josh Weil reads from his new novel The Great Glass Sea (Grove Press) and discusses the book with Tom Barbash

From celebrated storyteller Josh Weil comes an epic tragedy of brotherly love, a sui generis novel swathed in all the magic of Russian folklore and set against the dystopian backdrop of an all too real alternate present.

Twin brothers Yarik and Dima have been inseparable since childhood. Living on their uncle’s farm after the death of their father, the boys once spent their days helping farmers in collective fields, their nights spellbound by their uncle’s mythic tales. Years later, the two men labor side by side at the Oranzheria, a sea of glass—the largest greenhouse in the world—that sprawls over acres of cropland. Lit by space mirrors orbiting above, it ensnares the denizens of Petroplavilsk in perpetual daylight and constant productivity, leaving the twins with only work in common—stalwart Yarik married with children, oppressed by the burden of responsibility; dreamer Dima living alone with his mother and rooster, wistfully planning the brothers’ return to their uncle’s land.

But an encounter with the Oranzerhia’s billionaire owner changes their lives forever. Dima drifts into a laborless life of bare subsistence while Yarik begins a head-spinning ascent from promotion to promotion until both men become poster boys for opposing ideologies, pawns at the center of conspiracies and deceptions that threaten to destroy not only the lives of those they love but the very love that has bonded the brothers since birth. This is a breathtakingly ambitious novel of love, loss, and light, set amid a bold vision of an alternative present-day Russia.

Josh Weil was awarded the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for his debut collection, The New Valley. A National Book Award “Five Under Thirty-Five” author, he has received fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, Columbia University, the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf, and Sewanee. His fiction has appeared in Granta, Esquire, One Story, and Agni.

Tom Barbash is the author of the novel The Last Good Chance and the bestselling nonfiction work On Top of the World: Cantor Fitzgerald, Howard Lutnick & 9/11: A Story of Loss & Renewal. His fiction has been published in Tin House, Story Magazine, The Indiana Review and others. His criticism has appeared in the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.

William Vollmann

VollmanGhost StoriesWilliam Vollmann reads from his new collection of short stories, Last Stories and Other Stories.
His first novel in nine years, published by Viking Press, comprises numerous ghost stories linked together by themes of love, death and the erotic. In this reading session set in the Initiation Chamber and Library of Lodge No. 15 of European Oddfellows, Vollmann reads Widow’s Weeds, a story about Weneke Lea McLeod.

William T Vollmann is an award winning novelist, journalist, war correspondent, short story writer, essayist, and painter. He is the author of ten novels, four short story collections, nine works of non-fiction, and numerous limited special editions. His novel Europe Central won the 2005 National Book Award.


Ken Knabb

Celebrating Ken Knabb’s new translation of:

Society of the Spectacle

by Guy Debord

The Society of the SpKen_Knabbectacle, originally published in Paris in 1967, has been translated into more than twenty other languages and is arguably the most important radical book of the twentieth century. This is the first edition in any language to include extensive annotations, clarifying the historical allusions and revealing the sources of Debord’s “détournements.” Contrary to popular misconceptions, Debord’s book is neither an ivory tower “philosophical” discourse nor a mere expression of “protest.” It is a carefully considered effort to clarify the most fundamental tendencies and contradictions of the society in which we find ourselves. This makes it more of a challenge, but it is also why it remains so pertinent nearly half a century after its original publication while countless other social theories and intellectual fads have come and gone.

Ken Knabb is a writer, translator, historian, and radical theorist. He has translated into English numerous works by Guy Debord, the Situationist International, and Ngo Van. He has championed the life and work of the anarchist poet and essayist Kenneth Rexroth, producing the critical study titled The Relevance of Rexroth.

Red Hen Press Presents: Kate Gale, Douglas Kearney, and Peggy Shumaker

kate galered hen photoReading from her new poetry book, Kate Gale celebrates the release of The Goldilocks Zone (University of New Mexico Press) and Douglas Kearney reads from his new poetry collection Patter (Red Hen Press) and Peggy Shumaker reads from her book of poetry, Toucan Nest (Red Hen Press). Kate Gale is the managing editor for Red Hen Press, celebrating 20 years of nonprofit literary publishing.

Praise for Kate Gale:

“The clipped jumpy rhythm of these poems with their sudden bursts of syntax prove repeatedly that Kate Gale possesses a poetic tone and pace all her own. She is also refreshingly out of step with today’s poetry of self-absorption, for she is fascinated less by her ego than by the strange variety of the world around us.”—Billy Collins, former U.S. Poet Laureate

about Douglas Kearny’s Patter:

For a couple struggling with infertility, conception is a war against their bodies. Blood and death attend. But when the war is won, and life stares, hungry, in the parents’ faces, where does that violence, anxiety, and shame go? The poems in Patter re-imagine miscarriages as minstrel shows, magic tricks, and comic strips; set Darth Vader against Oedipus’s dad in competition for “Father of the Year;” and interrogate the poet’s family’s stint on reality TV. In this, his third collection, award-winning poet Douglas Kearney doggedly worries the line between love and hate, showing how it bleeds itself into “fatherhood.”

about Toucan Nest:

“This is a book of burnished, lapidary attention. Its poems—vibrant with seeing, quickened with sound-work, subtled by insight—peel open landscapes both outer and inner. The costs of our human presence and extractions are in these pages, but also the radiant return of human awareness. Toucan Nest is a unique account of encounter, imaginative inquiry, and expansion.”—Jane Hirshfield”

Dr. Kate Gale is Managing Editor of Red Hen Press, Editor of the Los Angeles Review and President of the American Composers Forum, LA.  She serves on the boards of A Room of Her Own Foundation and Poetry Society of America.  She is author of five books of poetry and six librettos including Rio de Sangre, with composer Don Davis. The Goldilocks Zone is available from the University of New Mexico Press, February 2014.

Poet/performer/librettist Douglas Kearney’s first full-length collection of poems, Fear, Some, was published in 2006 by Red Hen Press. His second, The Black Automaton (Fence Books, 2009), was Catherine Wagner’s selection for the National Poetry Series. It was also a finalist for the PEN Center USA Award in 2010. His third collection is Patter (Red Hen Press, 2014). He has received a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Coat Hanger award, and fellowships at Idyllwild and Cave Canem. Raised in Altadena, CA, he lives with his family in California’s Santa Clarita Valley. He teaches at CalArts.

Peggy Shumaker is Alaska State Writer Laureate. Her previous book of poems is Gnawed Bones. Her lyrical memoir is Just Breathe Normally. Toucan Nest, her most recent collection, grew from an eco-arts writing workshop in Costa Rica. Professor emerita from University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Shumaker teaches in the Rainier Writing Workshop. She is founding editor of Boreal Books, publishers of fine art and literature from Alaska. She edits the Alaska Literary Series at University of Alaska Press.

Interview with Eric Baus

Eric Baus stopped by City Lights to talk about his new poetry book, The Tranquilized Tongue

We celebrated the release of The Tranquilized Tongue, the latest in the City Lights Spotlight Poetry series! The Tranquilized Tongue is the 11th installment in the City Lights Spotlight Series, which brings attention to established and up-and-coming innovative American poets.TranquilizedTongue

In the tradition of French poets like Francis Ponge, Pierre Reverdy, and René Char, The Tranquilized Tongue offers a series of prose meditations in the form of surrealist declaratives, each sentence unfolding like an alchemical riddle in which sounds, images, and figures appear, dissolve, and re-emerge to offer a glimpse of a complex unconscious roiling below the surface of everyday reality. Sometimes a paragraph, sometimes a sentence, occasionally just a fragment, each poem in The Tranquilized Tongue is a portal to new perspective on the everyday materials of reality as constituted through language itself. The postmodern classicism of language poetry meets the modernist romanticism of surrealism to startling effect in Baus’s cabinet of curiosities. The eleventh volume of the City Lights Spotlight Poetry Series, The Tranquilized Tongue places Baus alongside such contemporary purveyors of the marvelous and speculative as Andrew Joron and Will Alexander.

Five Questions with Eric Baus

Praise for The Tranquilized Tongue:

“The poems comprising The Tranquilized Tongue propose a unique blend of Persian miniature and habanero pepper. The book is aburst with unremitting predication, each poem a merciless thought machine.”—Nathaniel Mackey

“For over a decade now, Eric Baus has been one of the leading practitioners of a new kind of poem, one that draws as equally on the legacy of surrealism, the nouveau roman, and even the language poets, as it does on the Deep Listening practice of Pauline Oliveros, Alvin Lucier’s forays into resonant sound, the films of Charles and Ray Eames, and the voiceover of Sir David Attenborough narrating our insect and animal worlds. The Tranquilized Tongue speaks to us in a music capable of condensing geologic time into that of a microtonal interval: weird, warped, a little wobbly on its newly-hatched legs, this is a book where the word The will follow you like a gosling.”—Noah Eli Gordon

“Special objects in our multiple world–from eggs to kings, from bees to caskets, from wings to statues–spawn themselves with other teeming objects in a fertile generation of aphoristic actions calmed by the clarity of prose poems framed as linked short stories. The scintillating tensions between febrile nouns, adjectival properties, and active claims all in their phonemic bliss create an elegant surrealism charged with the primary mystery of Baus’s lexicon.”—Rachel Blau DuPlessis, author of Drafts

Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics 40th Anniversary Party

Jack Kerouac SchoolWe were proud to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at City Lights. It was fantastic night of readings from JKS faculty and guests who have taught in their summer writing program.

City Lights celebrates Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics 40th anniversary.

Hosted by Andrea Rexillus. With readings by Robert Gluck, Juliana Spahr, Cedar Sigo, Eric Baus, Michelle Naka Pierce, and Chris Pusateri.

Founded in 1974 by Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman, as part of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s 100-year experiment, the Jack Kerouac School continues to honor its historical roots while bringing forward new questions that both invigorate and challenge the current dialogue in writing today. This event will celebrate Naropa’s 40th year and will feature readings by JKS faculty and renowned guests who have taught in the Summer Writing Program.

http://www.naropa.edu/academics/jks/

Kevin Young

We were extremely proud to have poet Kevin Young come to City Lights and read from his new collection of poetry, Book of Hours.

Book of Hours from Alfred A. Knopf:

Possibly his most intimate book of poetry yet, Young’s inimitably rhythmic, musical lines will quite literally move its readers. A beautiful book of both grief and birth from the award-winning poet whose work thrills his audience with its immediate emotional impact.

A decade after the sudden and tragic loss of the poet’s father, we witness the unfolding of his grief. “In the night I brush / my teeth with a razor,” he tells us, in one of the collection’s piercing two-line poems. Young captures the strange silence of bereavement: “Not the storm/ but the calm/ that slays me.” But the poet acknowledges, even celebrates, life’s passages, his loss transformed and tempered in a sequence describing the birth of his son: in “Crowning,” he delivers what is surely one of the most powerful birth poems written by a man, describing “her face/ full of fire, then groaning your face/ out like a flower, blood-bloom,/ crocused into air.” Ending this book of birth and grief, the gorgeous title sequence brings acceptance, asking “What good//are wishes if they aren’t/ used up?” while understanding “How to listen/kevin-young2to what’s gone.”

Kevin Young is the author of seven books of poetry and editor of eight others, including Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels, winner of a 2012 American Book Award, and Jelly Roll: A Blues, a finalist for the National Book Award and Los Angeles Times Book Prize and winner of the Paterson Poetry Prize. His book The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness won the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize, was a New York Times Notable Book for 2012, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism, and winner of the PEN Open Award. His next volume of poems, Book of Hours, is forthcoming from Knopf in March 2014. He is currently Atticus Haygood Professor of Creative Writing and English and curator of Literary Collections and the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University in Atlanta.

“Kevin Young is one of the most talented poets in the United States. With this new book, he should also become known as a major critic.” —San Francisco Chronicle, reviewing The Grey Album

Visit: kevinyoungpoetry.com

 

Kaya Press 20th Anniversary Celebration at City Lights!

KayaPressLogoCity Lights celebrates the 20th year of Kaya Press with readings by Sesshu Foster, Gene Oishi, Amarnath Ravva, and Shailja Patel!

Kaya Press is a group of dedicated writers, artists, readers, and lovers of books working together to publish the most challenging, thoughtful, and provocative literature being produced throughout the Asian and Pacific Island diasporas. Kaya Press believe that people’s lives can be changed by literature that pushes us past expectations and out of our comfort zone. They believe in the contagious potential of creativity combined with the means of production.

Those Who Read Were:

Sesshu Foster, author of the collection of prose poems about Los Angeles: City Terrace Field Manual

Gene Oishi, whose novel in stories Foxdrum Bebop is released in March 2014

Amarnath Ravva, whose experimental prose memoir American Canyon is being published in March 2014

Shailja Patel, author of the performance/poetry collection Migritude

 

LIVE At City Lights! Peniel E. Joseph Discusses His New Book, Stokely: A Life

PenielJWe were proud to have professor and activist Peniel E. Joseph stop by at City Lights to talk about his new book, Stokely: A Life.

Peniel E. Joseph in conversation with professor and civil rights scholar Clayborne Carson, discussing Joseph’s new book, Stokely: A Life, on the life of Stokely Carmichael.

Stokely: A Life from Basic Civitas Books.

Stokely Carmichael, the charismatic and controversial black activist, stepped onto the pages of history when he called for Black Power during a speech one Mississippi night in 1966. A firebrand who straddled both the American civil rights and Black Power movements, Carmichael would stand for the rest of his life at the center of the storm he had unleashed that night. In Stokely, preeminent civil rights scholar Peniel E. Joseph presents a groundbreaking biography of Carmichael, using his life as a prism through which to view the transformative African American freedom struggles of the twentieth century.

During the heroic early years of the civil rights movement, Carmichael and other civil rights activists advocated nonviolent measures, leading sit-ins, demonstrations, and voter registration efforts in the South that culminated with the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Still, Carmichael chafed at the slow progress of the civil rights movement and responded with Black Power, a movement that urged blacks to turn the rhetoric of freedom into a reality through whatever means necessary. Marked by the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., a wave of urban race riots, and the rise of the anti-war movement, the late 1960s heralded a dramatic shift in the tone of civil rights. Carmichael became the revolutionary icon for this new racial and political landscape, helping to organize the original Black Panther Party in Alabama and joining the iconic Black Panther Party for Self Defense that would galvanize frustrated African Americans and ignite a backlash among white Americans and the mainstream media. Yet at the age of thirty, Carmichael made the abrupt decision to leave the United States, embracing a pan-African ideology and adopting the name of Kwame Ture, a move that baffled his supporters and made him something of an enigma until his death in 1998.

A nuanced and authoritative portrait, Stokely captures the life of the man whose uncompromising vision defined political radicalism and provoked a national reckoning on race and democracy.

Peniel E. Joseph is professor of history at Tufts University and the author of Waiting ‘Til the Midnight Hour and Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Ford Foundation, and his work has appeared in Souls, New Formations, and The Black Scholar. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Clayborne Carson has devoted most his professional life to the study of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the movements King inspired. Under his direction, the King Papers Project has produced six volumes of a definitive, comprehensive edition of speeches, sermons, correspondence, publications, and unpublished writings. Dr. Carson has also edited numerous other books based on King’s papers. A member of Stanford’s department of history, Carson has also served as visiting professor or visiting fellow at  American University, the University of California, Berkeley, Duke University, Emory University, Harvard University, the Center for the Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, the L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, and at Morehouse College in Atlanta, where during 2009 he was Martin Luther King, Jr. Distinguished Professor and Executive Director of that institution’s King Collection.

 

Author Dia Felix Discussing Her New Novel Nochita at City Lights

87286100978980MWe were proud to talk to Dia Felix about her debut novel, Nochita. She discussed how her childhood molded the narrative and also about her collaborations with the Sister Spit group. Nochita is the latest novel in the City Lights/Sister Spit series.

Daughter to a divorced new age guru, Nochita wanders through the cracks of California’s counter-culture, half feral child, half absurdist prophet. When tragedy strikes she is sent to live with her father, a working-class cowboy with a fragile grasp on sobriety and a dangerously mean fiancée. Stuck with adults chillingly unable to care for her, Nochita takes to the streets, a runaway with nothing to run from, driven forward by desperation, hope and an irrepressible wonder.

Nochita is a poetic novel dazzling in its detail, stylistically daring, by turns hallucinatory, darkly funny and brutally real. At its heart is the singular voice of Nochita, tender and fierce, alone and alive and utterly unforgettable.

Dia Felix is a writer and filmmaker who’s screened films at independent festivals (Frameline, Outfest, San Francisco Film Festival), and performed literary work a lot too (Segue Series, Radar, Dixon Place). Her novel Nochita was published through City Lights/Sister Spit in early 2014. She teaches and mentors teens in experimental film making at Reel Works, a teen film making continuum in Brooklyn. She is an award-winning digital media producer for museums (Exploratorium, Museum of Arts and Design.) She is the founder and editor of Personality Press.

D. Foy & Josh Mohr Reading Live at City Lights!

We are proud to bring you D. Foy and Josh Mohr reading from their novels at City Lights. D. Foy celebrated the release of his new novel, Made to Break from Two Dollar Radio. He was joined by local literary wonder Josh Mohr for an evening of readings and discussion.

Two days before New Years, a pack of five friends – three men and two women – head to a remote cabin near Lake Tahoe to celebrate the holidays. They’ve been buddies forever, banded together by scrapes and squalor, their relationships defined by these wild times.

After a car accident leaves one friend sick and dying, and severe weather traps them at the cabin, there is nowhere to go, forcing them to finally and ultimately take stock and confront their past transgressions, considering what they mean to one another and themselves.

With some of the most luminous and purple prose flexed in recent memory, D. Foy is an incendiary new voice and Made to Break, a grand, episodic debut, redolent of the stark conscience of Denis Johnson and the spellbinding vision of Roberto Bolaño.

D. Foy has had work published or forthcoming in Bomb, Frequencies: Volume 3, Post Road, The Literary Review, and The Georgia Review. His story, “Barnacles of the Fuzz,” appeared in Forty New Stories: New Writing from Harper Perennial, edited by Cal Morgan. An essay on the American laundromat will appear in Snorri Bros.’s Laundromat, an homage in photographs to laundromats throughout New York City, available from powerHouse Books.

Josh Mohr is the author of four critically acclaimed novels: Some Things That Meant the World to Me, Termite Parade, Damascudfoys, and The Fight Song.  He lives in San Francisco and teaches fiction writing.

LIVE at City Lights! Book Party for Dia Felix!

We were proud to celebrate the release of Nochita by Dia Felix here at City Lights! Nochita is the latest novel in the City Lights/Sister Spit series, edited by Michelle Tea! Enjoy this night of reading from Felix and special guest Camille Roy!

Daughter to a divorced new age guru, Nochita wanders through the cracks of California’s counter-culture, half feral child, half absurdist prophet. When tragedy strikes she is sent to live with her father, a working-class cowboy with a fragile grasp on sobriety and a dangerously mean fiancée. Stuck with adults chillingly unable to care for her, Nochita takes to the streets, a runaway with nothing to run from, driven forward by desperation, hope and an irrepressible wonder.

Nochita is a poetic novel dazzling in its detail, stylistically daring, by turns hallucinatory, darkly funny and brutally real. At its heart is the singular voice of Nochita, tender and fierce, alone and alive and utterly unforgettable.

Praise for Nochita:87286100978980M

Nochita shimmers with humor and delight, she burns with stark raving intelligence.”—Mary Gaitskill

“In Nochita, Dia Felix builds an extraordinarily rich and inventive language to carry the kaleidoscopic point of view of her young protagonist. What a pleasure to open a book and find such exuberant and committed artistry. A stunning debut.”
—Janet Fitch

Eleven/Eleven Journal Release Party at City Lights!

Celebrating the release of issue #16! Hosted by Hugh Behm-Steinberg. With readings from Kenneth Wong, Nana K. Twumasi, Kate Robinson, Emily Meg Weinstein and Lewis Ellingham. Eleven Eleven is a biannual journal of literature and art published through the MFA Writing program at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. The aim of the publication is to provide a forum for risk and experimentation and to serve as an exchange between writers and artists.

Eleven Eleven was founded in 2004 by Youmna Chlala and Gayle Romasanta.

Nick Turse and Oscar Villalon Discussing the Vietnam War

On January 27th, 2014, Nick Turse and Oscar Villalon discussed Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam (Picador Books) at City Lights Bookstore!

Americans have long been taught that events such as the notorious My Lai massacre were isolated incidents in the Vietnam War, carried out by “a few bad apples.” But as award-winning journalist and historian Nick Turse demonstrates in this groundbreaking investigation, violence against Vietnamese noncombatants was not at all exceptional during the conflict. Rather, it was pervasive and systematic, the predictable consequence of orders to “kill anything that moves.”

Drawing on more than a decade of research in secret Pentagon files and extensive interviews with American veterans and Vietnamese survivors, Turse reveals for the first time how official policies resulted in millions of innocent civilians killed and wounded. In shocking detail, he lays out the workings of a military machine that made crimes in almost every major American combat unit all but inevitable. Kill Anything That Moves takes us from archives filled with Washington’s long-suppressed war crime investigations to the rural Vietnamese hamlets that bore the brunt of the war; from boot camps where young American soldiers learned to hate all Vietnamese to bloodthirsty campaigns like Operation Speedy Express, in which a general obsessed with body counts led soldiers to commit what one participant called “a My Lai a month.”

Thousands of Vietnam books later, Kill Anything That Moves, devastating and definitive, finally brings us face-to-face with the truth of a war that haunts Americans to this day.

Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian, essayist, the managing editor of TomDispatch.com, the co-founder of Dispatch Books, and a fellow at the Nation Institute. He is the author of numerous books including The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Spies, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyber Warfare (Dispatch Books/Haymarket Books, 2012) and The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives (Metropolitan Books, 2008). He is also the editor of The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan (Verso, 2010). Turse has written for The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Nation, Adbusters, GOOD magazine, Le Monde Diplomatique, In These Times, Mother Jones and The Village Voice, among other print and on-line publications.  His articles have also appeared in such newspapers as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Baltimore Sun, The Chicago Tribune, The Contra-Costa Times, The Fort Worth Star Telegram, The Hartford Courant, The Indianapolis Star, The Knoxville News Sentinel, The Salt Lake Tribune, The Seattle Times, The Sydney Morning Herald, and The Tampa Tribune, among others. He was the recipient of a Ridenhour Prize at the National Press Club in April 2009 for his years-long investigation of mass civilian slaughter by U.S. troops in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta during Operation Speedy Express.  In his article for The Nation, “A My Lai a Month,” he also exposed a Pentagon-level cover-up of these crimes that was abetted by a major news magazine.  In 2009, he also received a James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism from Hunter College and a MOLLY National Journalism Prize honorable mention for the same article.

Oscar Villallon is the Managing Editor of Zyzzyva Journal and is the former editor of the San Francisco Chronicle Literary Section.

What has been said about Kill Anything That Moves

“A tour de force of reporting and research: the first time comprehensive portrait, written with dignity and skill, of what American forces actually were doing in Vietnam. The findings, hidden behind a screen of official lies and cover-ups all these years, are shocking almost beyond words.… Some thirty thousand books have been written about the Vietnam War. Many more will now be needed, and they must begin with Kill Anything That Moves.”
—Jonathan Schell, author of The Real War: The Classic Reporting on the Vietnam War

“This deeply disturbing book provides the fullest documentation yet of the brutality and ugliness that marked America’s war in Vietnam. No doubt some will charge Nick Turse with exaggeration or overstatement. Yet the evidence he has assembled is irrefutable. With the publication of Kill Anything That Moves, the claim that My Lai was a one-off event becomes utterly unsustainable.”
—Andrew J. Bacevich, author of Washington Rules: America’s Path To Permanent War

“This book is an overdue and powerfully detailed account of widespread war crimes—homicide and torture and mutilation and rape—committed by American soldiers over the course of our military engagement in Vietnam. Nick Turse’s research and reportage is based in part on the U.S. military’s own records, reports, and transcripts, many of them long hidden from public scrutiny. Kill Anything That Moves is not only a compendium of pervasive and illegal and sickening savagery toward Vietnamese civilians, but it is also a record of repetitive deceit and cover-ups on the part of high ranking officers and officials. In the end, I hope, Turse’s book will become a hard-to-avoid, hard-to-dismiss corrective to the very common belief that war crimes and tolerance for war crimes were mere anomalies during our country’s military involvement in Vietnam.”
—Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Carried

“American patriots will appreciate Nick Turse’s meticulously documented book, which for the first time reveals the real war in Vietnam and explains why it has taken so long to learn the whole truth.”
—James Bradley, coauthor of Flags of Our Fathers

“Nick Turse reminds us again, in this painful and important book, why war should always be a last resort, and especially wars that have little to do with American national security. We failed, as Turse makes clear, to deal after the Vietnam War with the murders that took place, and today—four decades later—the lessons have yet to be learned. We still prefer kicking down doors to talking.”
—Seymour Hersh, staff writer, The New Yorker

“No book I have read in decades has so shaken me, as an American. Turse lays open the ground-level reality of a war that was far more atrocious than Americans at home have ever been allowed to know. He exposes official policies that encouraged ordinary American soldiers and airmen to inflict almost unimaginable horror and suffering on ordinary Vietnamese, followed by official cover-ups as tenacious as Turse’s own decade of investigative effort against them. Kill Anything That Moves is obligatory reading for Americans, because its implications for the likely scale of atrocities and civilian casualties inflicted and covered up in our latest wars are inescapable and staggering.”
—Daniel Ellsberg, author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers

“Meticulously researched, Kill Anything That Moves is the most comprehensive account to date of the war crimes committed by U.S. forces in Vietnam and the efforts made at the highest levels of the military to cover them up. It’s an important piece of history.”
—Frances FitzGerald, author of Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam

“Nick Turse has done more than anyone to demonstrate—and document—what should finally be incontrovertible: American atrocities in Vietnam were not infrequent and inadvertent, but the commonplace and inevitable result of official U.S. military policy. And he does it with a narrative that is gripping and deeply humane.”
—Christian Appy, author of Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered From All Sides

“In this deeply researched and provocative book Nick Turse returns us to Vietnam to raise anew the classic dilemmas of warfare and civil society. My Lai was not the full story of atrocities in Vietnam, and honestly facing the moral questions inherent in a ‘way of war’ is absolutely necessary to an effective military strategy. Turse documents a shortfall in accountability during the Vietnam War that should be disturbing to every reader.”
—John Prados, author of Vietnam: The History of an Unwinnable War, 1945–1975

“Nick Turse’s Kill Anything That Moves is essential reading, a powerful and moving account of the dark heart of the Vietnam War: the systematic killing of civilians, not as aberration but as standard operating procedure. Until this history is acknowledged it will be repeated, one way or another, in the wars the U.S. continues to fight.”
—Marilyn Young, author of The Vietnam Wars, 1945–1990

Barry Gifford reads from The Roy Stories

reading from

The Roy Stories

from Seven Stories Press

For forty years—a Biblical time span—The Roy Stories has been the one continuous unbroken line in the otherwise kaleidoscopic career of one of America’s greatest living writers. Collected here for the first time, the Roy stories of Barry Gifford chronicle his personal history of a time—roughly, the late 1940s through the early 1960s—and a place—the southern and mid-western United States (Chicago, Illinois, and Key West and Miami, Florida, in particular). Similar in structure and tone to Ernest Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories, Barry Gifford’s slices of life cut to the heart and the bone. “Nearly every Gifford story opens a Pandora’s box of uncontainable emotions,” wrote Richard Dyer in the Boston Globe. “There’s no one like Barry Gifford, which is the best reason to read him.”

Barry Gifford is the author of more than forty published works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, which have been translated into twenty-eight languages. His most recent prose works are Sailor & Lula: The Complete Novels, Sad Stories of the Death of Kings, and Memories from a Sinking Ship: A Novel. His previous most recent poetry collection is Las cuatro reinas / The Four Queens, released in 2006. Gifford lives in the San Francisco area and maintains a website at www.barrygifford.com

The End of Love, by Marcos Giralt Torrente read by Katherine Silver and Scott Esposito

 

Katherine Silver and Scott Esposito

read and discuss the work of Marcos Giralt Torrente

on the occasion of the release of

The End Of Love

by Marcos Giralt Torrente

translated by Katherine Silver

published by McSweeney’s Books

In this quartet of mesmerizing stories, Marcos Giralt Torrente explores the confounding, double-edged promise of love. Each finds a man carefully churning over his past, trying to fathom how the distance between people can become suddenly unbridgeable.

Two tourists visit a remote island off the coast of Africa and are undone by a disconcerting encounter with another couple. A young man, enchanted by his bohemian cousin and her husband, watches them fall into a state of resentful dependence over the course of decades. A chaste but all-consuming love affair between a troubled boy and a wealthy but equally troubled girl leaves a scar that never heals. The son of divorced parents tries in vain to reunite them before realizing why he is wrong to do so. In The End of Love, Giralt Torrente forges discomfiting and gripping dramas from the small but consequential misunderstandings that shape our lives.

Marcos Giralt Torrente was born in Madrid in 1968 and is the author of three novels, a novella, and a book of short stories. He was writer-in-residence at the Spanish Academy in Rome, the Künstlerhaus Schloss Wiepersdorf, and the University of Aberdeen, and was part of the Berlin Artists-in-Residence Programme in 2002-2003. He is the recipient of several distinguished awards, most importantly the Spanish National Book Award in 2011. His works have been translated into French, German, Greek, Italian, Korean and Portuguese. The End of Love is his first book to appear in English.

Katherine Silver’s most recent translations of contemporary literature in Spanish include works by Daniel Sada, César Aira, and Horacio Castellanos Moya. She is also the codirector of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre.

Scott Esposito’s criticism has appeared in Bookforum, the Los Angeles Times, the Review of Contemporary Fiction, the Los Angeles Review of Books, The National, The Point, Tin House, The Paris Review Daily, and numerous others. He has also written introductions to novels for the Dalkey Archive Press and Melville House Publishing. He is the editor of online publications for San Francisco’s Center for the Art of Translation and has been a consultant on translated literature for presses including Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McSweeney’s, Graywolf, and Open Letter. He is also the editor in chief for The Quarterly Conversation, an online periodical of book reviews and essays. He is the co-author with Lauren Elkin of The End Of Oulipo? from Zero Books.

Juliana Spahr and David Buuck read from An Army of Lovers

An Army of Lovers begins with the story of two poets, Demented Panda and Koki, united in their desire to write politically engaged poetry at a time when poetry seems to have lost its ability to effect social change. Their first project is more than a failure, resulting in a spell that unleashes a torrent of raw sewage and surrealistic embodiments of consumerist excess and black site torture techniques. Subsequent chapters feature an experimental composer (Koki?) and a performance artist (Panda?) whose bodies are literally invaded with the ills of capitalism, manifested through leaking blisters and other maladies, as well as a radical remix of a Raymond Carver story, questioning “What We Talk About When We Talk About Poetry.” The novel concludes with Panda and Koki returning to the site of their failed collaboration to conjure up a more utopian vision of “an army of lovers.” Fantastical, lyrical, whimsical and wildly experimental, An Army of Lovers is as serious as it is absurd.

Readings from Robert Antoni and Lucy Corin

Robert Antoni and Lucy Corin reading from their new works and discussing literature:

As Flies To Whatless Boys, by Robert Antoni, Akashic Books

One Hundred Apocalypses, by Lucy Corin, McSweeney’s Books

Co-sponsored by Akashic Books and McSweeney’s

As Flies To Whatless Boys: Tragedy and humor meet in an adventure-packed, historical novel about a British incursion into the island of Trinidad in 1845.

One Hundred Apocalypses: Lucy Corin’s dazzling new collection is powered by one hundred apocalypses: a series of short stories, many only a few lines, that illumintae moments of vexation and crisis, revelations and revolutions. At once mournful and explosively energetic, One Hundred Apocalypses makes manifest the troubled conscience of an uneasy time.

Robert Antoni is the author of the landmark novel Divina Trace, for which he received a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and an NEA grant. His other books include Blessed Is the Fruit, My Grandmother’s Erotic Folktales, and Carnival. He was a 2010 Guggenheim Fellow (for his work on As Flies to Whatless Boys), and recently received the NALIS Lifetime Literary Award from the Trinidad & Tobago National Library. He now lives in Manhattan and teaches in the graduate writing program at the New School University. Visit: www.robertantoni.com/

Lucy Corin is a fiction writer whose work has appeared in journals including American Short Fiction, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, Conjunctions, and Tin House Magazine, and in anthologies such as Algonquin’s New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best (1997 and 2003), and The Iowa Anthology of Innovative Narrative. Her novel, Everyday Psychokillers: A History for Girls was published by FC2 in 2004. She was a Walter E. Dakin fellow at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference in 2006, and Margaret Bridgman Fellow at Bread Loaf in 2008. McSweeney’s Books published her short story collection The Entire Predicament in 2007. She’s a 2012 recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Rome Prize. Ms. Corin is an Associate Professor of English at U.C. Davis. Visit: http://lucycorin.com

Yokohama Threeway: An Interview with Beth Lisick

Writer, performer and independent film actress, Beth Lisick has made a career of opening her life to her readers in all of its messy, smart hilarity, but the stories in Yokohama Threeway and Other Small Shames don’t usually find their way into a memoir. With her trademark humor and sly intelligence, writing in short flashes the way these episodes tend to pop up in memory, Lisick recounts her most embarrassing moments with gusto. The results is a candid and wickedly funny collection of everyday mortification.

Here she is chatting with City Lights staffer Jolene Torr about the bad judgments and free-floating regrets that keep her up at night, and why she’s okay with writing about what most people would rather forget than relive.

And catch Beth on her Walk of Shame through Portland, San Francisco, and New York. Tour dates +times here!

 

 

 

No shame in their game — these folks love Yokohama Threeway!

“. . . a strangely touching and engaging portrait of the artist as a young screwup.”—Booklist

“. . . the ultimate joyride for those of us who enjoy cringe-worthy embarrassment, genuine pathos, and an overdosing amount of schadenfreude.”—Michael Ian Black

“This book is fucking great.”—Kathleen Hanna

“. . . a laugh-out-loud series of short, revelatory confessions propelled by curiosity and an acute desire to experience the world. . . . Lisick does it with aplomb and even exuberance.”—SF Weekly

“I laughed and cringed and cared more and more. Thank you, Beth Lisick, it was and continues to be worth all the struggles.”—Matthew Zapruder

“Speaking as someone who hates everything, I love this book.”—James Greer

“. . . hilarious, heartbreaking, compassionate, pitch perfect, utterly original.”—Joyce Maynard

“Lisick’s writing reminds us how simultaneously wonderful and terrible it is to be alive.”—Kim Wong Keltner