The Little Brother's Revenge: Victoria Patterson Brings It All Home

Categories: OC Bookly

The writer Victoria Patterson's name should by now already be at the top of everybody's unlikely if welcome list of sincere and important and, yes, esteemed Orange County writers of literary fiction. It's actually a pretty strong list, and if you need further convincing, do check out this column's archives, recently celebrating poet Grant Hier and novelist Peggy Hesketh and more. Yet Patterson stands out this week, for all kinds of reasons. Her first two books, a debut literary short story collection (Drift) and a novel (This Vacant Paradise) helpfully advertised their social, existential and political themes (at least to those in the know) about the weird county in which we live, by way of breezy privilege and hollow excess. She was acclaimed as the Edith Wharton of the OC, which is surely just plain fun to say, but it was an accurate if perhaps purposely and purposefully self-constructed comparison, not the least because the writing and the analysis are so strong and brave and, importantly, nobody else encouraged that association, not from Orange County, CA anyway! Then Patterson pivoted, gracefully, to writing a different kind of social critique in The Peerless Four, if with the same vigorous and also stylish class and feminist-historical critiques, this time reimagining the story - or speculating or elaborating on it - of four women Olympic athletes and the singular lady coach whose own story demands revisionism of nearly everything about the period of the story, its quiet prejudices, its loud and clumsy ones, its so-called truths and received wisdom and received stupidity.  

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Barrio Writers Summer Youth Program Returns to Santa Ana, Where It All Began

Categories: OC Bookly

Gabriel San Roman / OC Weekly
Sarah Garcia shares a smile during Barrio Writers
On an otherwise lazy summer day, about 25 Chicano youth are busy scribbling their thoughts in a journal exercise at Santa Ana's El Centro Cultural de México. They're aspiring Barrio Writers, guys and gals ranging in age between 13 and 21 who are dedicated to an intensive one-week program by the same name. All are motivated by a desire to find their voice in an essay, poem or story to be published in a future anthology.

Barrio Writers first began under author Sarah Rafael García in 2009 at El Centro Cultural de México with 30 students. After spreading to different states and college campuses, the program returned to its roots this summer with a solid group sure to produce the next Gary Soto or Ana Castillo! "Unfortunately, this past year we lost our space at Cal State Fullerton," García says. "It's back where it started, with el Centro more than willing to help out."

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Should Anyone Care That Ann Coulter Hawks Her Latest Polemic in Costa Mesa TOMORROW?

Regnery Publishing
Hot on the shelves!

I may be going out on a limb here, because I have yet to read Ann Coulter's new book (or, come to think of it, any Ann Coulter book), but other than the upside down exclamation marks before the titles and right side up exclamation marks after, her ¡Adios, America! and The Mexican-in-Chief's ¡Ask a Mexican! book and columns take far different views of U.S. immigration policy.

The pair of authors do have this in common: both will be in Costa Mesa Wednesday.

Gustavo will be here at Weekly HQ, putting the final touches on the latest edition of the best alternative newsweekly in all the land (that's for sale).

Coulter will be pimping ¡Adios, America! at the local Barnes & Noble Booksellers, where a crowd is expected ... to protest her. (They likely won't be able to get as close at Coulter's July 13 gig at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda.)

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Don Winslow on Reluctantly Writing Again About Mexico's Drug Cartels

Categories: Main, OC Bookly

In 2006, after years of in-depth research into the origins of the Mexican drug trade, novelist Don Winslow published Power of the Dog, a saga similar to Tolstoy's War and Peace except with Mexicans instead of Russians and no peace.

Four years after Dog came the hugely successful The Savages, which depicted a Laguna Beach marijuana cultivator, his ex-Navy SEAL pal and their mutual girlfriend; the trio run afoul of a Mexican cartel when they refuse a business offer. (The book led to a 2012 Oliver Stone movie starring Salma Hayek, Benicio Del Toro and John Travolta).

Fortunately for fans of Winslow's highly-inventive, torn-from-the-Blog-del-Narco account of south of the border carnage, Winslow has just come out with The Cartel, a Dog sequel that chronicles the bloodiest years of the Mexican war on drugs, which has killed well more than 50,000 people since 2006, including dozens of journalists Winslow lists by name in the front of the book.

We recently caught up with Winslow to talk about the true tales behind The Cartel, which comes out in bookstores today.

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A Book a Week, That's All We Ask: Bibliocracy Returns, Big Dave Paddles, and I Talk Books

Categories: OC Bookly
Hey, biblio-gals and biblio-fellas. It's time to welcome back Bibliocracy Radio and your (un)humble host to the airwaves at - where else? - KPFK 90.7 FM. And, although we sure enjoy talking about film and admittedly terrific cable TV dramas and comedies and documentaries, let's adopt a version of the famous Blue Diamond Almond growers slogan, shall we, and challenge everybody to also read at least one book a week, talk about books, esteem reading and, by all means, share this post and recommend, as I will do here unshyly, excellent fiction and nonfiction. And writing about literature and ideas and politics, as do the good folks at the Los Angeles Review of Books. Thanks to Tom Lutz and the crew there for subbing for Bibliocracy while I was on a creative writing hiatus. I'm told "The LARB Radio Hour" will stay on KPFK, great news. Check the schedule, and listen for their new day and time, as Bibliocracy arrives this Wednesday at 8 PM. Oh, and check out this previous unpublished handsome color photo of the great Ross MacDonald, subject of one of the scheduled shows we'll air this late spring and summer. 
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Steal This Fair: Anarchism Arrives in Orange County, With Books!

Categories: OC Bookly

Mr. Bib surprised himself, with help from friends

and fellow bibliophiles, at recent Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, getting pretty inspired, grateful, just plain happy during Gary Snyder's chat with David L. Ulin, book reviewer and, as it happens, contributor to current Santa Monica Review. Among many topics, the poet whose youth charged up so many, whose writing and politics influenced the policy decisions of a state and its then-governor (one Jerry Brown) and the California Arts Commission and so many college lit class syllabi, Synder mentioned, joyfully, anarchism, of all things.  If he'd had longer he would no doubt have elaborated on lumbermen and other backwoods hobo I.W.W. "Wobblies" and the once-active everyday embrace of mutual aid and, you bet, industrial sabotage and standing in solidarity against the bosses. Still, it was just enough, that brief allusion, what with the Buson and the Beats and saving the American Southwest from coal-burning power plants and reading his own latest, and newest work, collected in an edition titled, charmingly, This Present Moment.

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Peter Mathews Shares His Book and Thoughts About "Dollar Democracy" in OC This Week

Peter Mathews talks money.
You may know Peter Mathews as a longtime political science professor at Cypress College, an adjunct professor at Cal State Long Beach or a guest lecturer at Cal State Fullerton.

Or, you may know Mathews as a political analyst on Southern California radio and television news programs.

Or, you may know Mathews from North County ballots, as he has run for several elected offices over the years. Now you'll get to know Mathews the author. He's got a new book out titled Money in Politics: the Destruction of the American Dream, and How to Restore It.

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The Poet Runs the Home Stretch: Grant Hier's Tended, Untended Garden of Reconciliation

Categories: OC Bookly

This image of an old aliso (sycamore) tree, in fact the singular old arborial totem for our region is a rendering which relies on the human hand, with the mind filling in both the details of what passes for reality and of course, heavily, on the experience of the illustrator. The huge now long-gone "Council Tree" once living, thriving, occupying a large piece of land in Yangna, a Tongva village now called Los Angeles and, yes, in the imagination, speaks symbolically, metaphorically just fine on its own, but of course we humans like to chime in, calling attention not only to the tree but to ourselves, talking about it, living under its stout branches, using it as did the Tongva people once, not so long ago, as a geographical landmark and marker of their own proximity, to each other, to the tree, to the universe of Southern California. You can find a photograph circa 1850 of the old plaza area of LA at the end of a book of new poetry by Grant Hier of Anaheim, a book that is one long, lovely poem in which the evocation of this giant if absent sycamore tree, trees, rivers, deserts, backyards and the humans who have seen and lived with these is meant to cause us to re-appreciate the story of them in this place, and its teller's own story too.  

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Read On, Write-In, Speak Out: Epistolary on a Saturday Morning!

Categories: OC Bookly

Let's get the 411 out of the way. Press HERE, Great Americans to get information, driving directions and more - as if you didn't already know them - to prep for my favorite civic activism event ever, the 30th annual Great American Write-In, sponsored by Women For: Orange County. You'll want to share the info and invite friends because, of course, the Times and Register won't mention it as they might, should, toward promoting political engagement and civic literacy, unlike this magazine you are reading online, which profiled the long-time OC feminist outfit last year. This despite or perhaps because of the truly dangerous idea it represents as manifest in the powerful image at right, of an older woman holding a pen, mightier than the sword, they say, in the wonderfully authentic and vivid and scary act of hand writing a letter to an elected official. It's a modest if impressive bit of what remains of both participation and resistance in an often otherwise virtual and therefore mostly meaningless "like"-along or online petition or Facebook un-world  

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What's up, heterodox? Economist Richard Wolff Visits the Hellmouth

Categories: OC Bookly
It's an easy truism that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing so, yes, the phony knowledge-peddling machine that is corporate mass media insists on telling obvious untruisms in the Groucho Marxist vein of believing capitalist apologist economics experts rather than your own lyin' eyes. Ha! Here's Marxist-Socialist- heterodox (you choose) economist, scholar, teacher, radio host and all-around economics de-mystifier Richard Wolff smiling at you from one of his two terrific websites, perhaps because he is looking so forward to appearing in the Hellmouth itself, aka Orange County, CA, USA this week. Yours Truly has the privilege (not class privilege, thank you) of introducing him at an OC Greens and KPFK (who else)-sponsored event on Thursday night in Santa Ana, tickets on sale now, as they say.

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