Escaping the city for the middle of nowhere, with tens of thousands of books
Partners for 35 years, Polly Hinds and Lynda German left Denver thirteen years ago in search of a quieter life, and they found it in isolated Sweetwater Station, Wyoming.
Not content to keep busy with the upkeep of dozens of farm animals, the two started a mammoth rare book store, with 70,000 titles up for sale.
Their hands filthy from chores, the two veteran booksellers carry armloads of hard-bound volumes, careful not to dirty the historical tomes and two Zane Grey works of fiction, “The Last Ranger” and “Last of the Great Scouts.” The words scrawled in red on a storage shed explain the contrast: “BOOKS FOR SALE.”
Thirteen years ago, the pair fled Denver following a bizarre altercation with police, looking for a quieter life. They found it here on a deserted ranch 40 miles from the nearest store…
Photos: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times
How many have you read?
Anyone have an exciting read lined up for the weekend?
test reblogged from wnyc
Happy birthday, Kurt Vonnegut
The legendary author, who passed away in 2007, would have turned 91 years old today. And what better way to remember him than to pick up a copy of his work, as David L. Ulin did a few years ago, to rediscover why “Slaughterhouse-Five” meant so much during his youth.
I first read the novel, after all, in this very house, when I was 12 or 13. To return to it 36 years later was to confront viscerally the central point of the book, which is that time is not a continuum but a collection of simultaneous moments, that everything we have ever done and everything we will ever do co-exists within us all at once.
Photos: Jill Krementz / Associated Press, Jennifer S. Altman / For the Times, Frank Espich / The Indianapolis Star
The impact of California’s intense prison isolation practices
Former Pelican Bay prisoner Steven Czifra, who was kept in isolation for up to 22 1/2 hours each day during much of his imprisonment, is out of jail and trying to pick up the pieces. But even as he rebuilds his life and attends UC Berkley, the effects of spending so much time completely alone linger with him:
Even on a campus noted for its tolerance and tranquility, Czifra can’t bridle a sense of doom: He will lose his scholarship, jeopardize his partner and their 5-year-old son, lapse from sobriety. Sometimes, his heart races and he is sure he’s going to die. Right here. Right now.
His short-term memory is weak. Those 12 lines of Yeats? Czifra had to read them over and over. James Joyce’s “The Dead” will bog him down for days. On this particular day, he’ll forget two appointments.
The fear, anxiety and memory loss are some of the symptoms commonly found among people kept in extreme isolation. They lie at the heart of a policy and scientific debate that was renewed this summer after prisoners statewide went on a hunger strike to protest conditions in high-security lockups.
Read more on Czifra’s journey, and the debate among researchers about the impact of isolation, in our latest Column One feature.
Photos: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times
Happy birthday Roald Dahl! For your mean grow-up books along with all those beloved books for children.
Happy Roald Dahl Day!
We’ll forgive Roald for the the occasional nightmare or two. And of course, a shout-out for Roald isn’t complete without credit to his masterful illustrator, Quentin Blake.
test reblogged from latimesbooks
Made-to-order poetry in Los Angeles
Jacqueline Suskin, a writer and former vegetable gardener, has taken to the Hollywood Farmers Market for her latest venture: The Poem Store.
Sitting with her typewriter, Suskin takes requests from curious passersby and regulars, taking requests for poems on back pain to making verse fit the title “Since Wednesday.”
As for the most popular request?
"Everyone is always asking for love poems," she says. "We are all obsessed with love."But love, as a topic, is deeply unspecific. When someone asks her to write a poem about love, she responds by asking what kind of love. That usually leads to a story about a girlfriend living far away, or a person new to Los Angeles desperately missing her family, or the love a mother has for her new baby.
She thinks people ask for poems that help them understand their path or direction in life.
"They want hope, or confidence, or they just need someone to see who they are," she says. "Half the time I feel like I am a therapist or a psychic."
Photos: Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times
Remembering Anne Frank, who would have been 84 today
Eighty-four years ago, the celebrated diarist and tragic victim of the Holocaust Anne Frank was born in Frankfurt, Germany. During the peak of the war, when her German-Jewish family was forced into hiding in Amsterdam, she kept track of her thoughts, trials and revelations in her diary.
Eventually, her family was discovered and all save for her father Otto died in Nazi concentration camps. In 1947, Otto worked to have her diary published as a book, and since then her words have been read across the world.
Her lasting legacy may be her persistent optimism in the face of overwhelming despair. As she wrote in her diary:
It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical.
Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. I simply can’t build my hopes on a foundation of confusion, misery, and death. I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that this cruelty too shall end, and that peace and tranquility will return once again.
Read more over at Jacket Copy.
Photo: Associated Press
Happy Birthday, Maurice Sendak!Thanks for all the stories and showing us that a little imagination can go a long way! To celebrate, you must do three things today:
1. Check out today’s Google Doodle
2. Learn about Sendak’s life
3. Listen to Sendak read ‘Where the Wild Things Are’
Also check out the touring exhibition “Maurice Sendak: 50 Years, 50 Works, 50 Reasons,” which is currently hosted by the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco until July 7.
test reblogged from pbsamericanmasters
Preserving ancient teachings in Timbuktu
Boubacar Sadeck, the youngest of Timbuktu’s scribes at 38, is a master of an ancient art - one that ties him closely to the historical writings that he spends his days transcribing and preserving.
"My weakness, my love, is calligraphy," said the scribe, who fled Timbuktu, famed for its collection of centuries-old manuscripts, when Islamist militias invaded last year. "If I go a day without writing, I feel as if something is missing or strange. When I sit down with my paper and my pen, I feel wonderful. I feel at ease."
Many of Timbuktu’s ancient scripts are now refugees separated from their former home in Ahmed Baba Institute after Islamist militias invaded. The rest have been either lost or destroyed in the chaos caused by the successful fight to drive the militias out of the city. Now, the future of these artifacts from the past is up in the air.
Read more in reporter Robyn Dixon’s story here
Photos: Evan Schneide / UN, Eric Feferberg / AFP/Getty Images
Come visit the Los Angeles Review of Books at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books! You can find us this weekend at our booth, number 26, located in the Trousdale Parkway on the USC campus. This is your chance to not only meet the staff that makes the Review possible, but to pick up a copy of our beautiful new print edition magazine: a selection of our best interviews and author questionnaires. Bring your friends, and we hope to see you there.
test reblogged from lareviewofbooks
The intersections between Los Angeles and literature
Yesterday marked the debut of our Literary L.A. feature, which highlights literary hotspots across the city. Want to go where Ray Bradbury wrote “Fahrenheit 451” on a type writer fueled by dimes? We have you covered.
And of course, the tool’s a work-in-progress, so send over your feedback on authors, works or mentions you’d like to see included!
Check out the tool here, or get psyched for this weekend’s Festival of Books, running from April 20-21 at the USC Campus.