By Catherine Wagley
By Catherine Wagley
By Wendy Gilmartin
By Jennifer Swann
By Claire de Dobay Rifelj
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Catherine Wagley
By Zachary Pincus-Roth
Each of my first readings have been at Dutton’s.
before it was an Oprah book.
Paint It Black
at the Beverly Hills store. I used to go
see my shrink right across San Vicente, and then jaywalk across (they
should have had a bridge) to the one place where my neuroses wouldn’t
be shoved in my face, a place where everything was always as it should
be, where you were wanted, respected, catered to. There will never be
another Duttons’. I know time moves on, things have their season, and
we were lucky to have had it. All I can say is, thanks for the memories.
Janet Fitch is the author of the novels White Oleander and Paint It Black.
In July 2001, my debut novel came out and
I did the first signing of my career at Dutton’s. I was so nervous, but
Diane Leslie put me at ease with her lovely literary manner. Several
weeks later, I got a surprise note in the mail from Doug Dutton. He had
read The Jasmine Trade and was writing to convey his enjoyment! I was
stunned that the legendary bookseller would take the time to write me a
letter. (And not an e-mailed one, either). We also had a phone
conversation about the book, in which he asked me thoughtful,
I hung up the phone feeling a bit stunned, like God himself had tapped me on the shoulder and I’d been initiated into a literary club that was both elite and egalitarian. I felt like I had “arrived.” But I know now that Doug made all authors feel special. He truly liked them. Books were his passion, and I was surprised to later learn about his second passion — music. Most people I know don’t have time to cultivate one, let alone two such artistic loves.
I’ve signed at Duttons for all five of my novels as well as for the
Los Angeles Noir
anthology I edited. It’s a warm,
inviting, bookish place and my signings there have become an integral
part of my book tours. I will be very sad not to visit the store in
July when my new novel comes out. It will seem as if my book tour is
incomplete, like something is missing. Los Angeles is a poorer place
for Dutton’s passing and for the dispersal of its talented staff, who
are as passionate and engaged about books as their boss.
Denise Hamilton is editor of Los Angeles Noir and author of the upcoming
The Last Embrace.
I grew up with Dutton’s. I remember when it
was just one store; slowly it spilled into the whole courtyard, and
years later, I had my first reading there. I guess I think of Dutton’s
as an irresistible combination of L.A./N.Y. sensibilities — the world
of readings/authors/city events that I often associate with New York,
but in a very Los Angeles courtyard, with the trees, the outdoors just
reaching into the books, the easy browsing from one part to the next,
the low-key feel. I’m having some genuine trouble imagining the book world in this
city without it. It seems pretty certain that the loss of Dutton’s will
mean sad head-shaking and sighing, for years and years, while one is
driving down San Vicente.
Aimee Bender is the author of, most recently, Willful Creatures: Stories.
Purchasing a book at Dutton’s has always
involved an intellectual exchange more than a commercial transaction.
When, for instance, I picked up the Library of America’s edition of
John Dos Passos’ U.S.A. trilogy, Doug told me of a friend of his who
had read the work years earlier on a transcontinental train trip. This
led to a discussion of the ways in which Dos Passos was a student of
our nation’s landscape as well as of its social history, and from there
we passed, by steps I can’t now reconstruct, to Felix Mendelssohn’s
life and letters. And I remember having similarly lively conversations,
on other visits to the store, with Diane Leslie about Philip Roth, with
Scott Wannberg about contemporary poetry and, most recently, with Nancy
Rudolph about Dick Davis’ great new translation of Fakhraddin Gorgani’s
Vis and Ramin
, the medieval Persian romance that is
the probable source of the story of Tristan and Isolde. Thinking of
Dutton’s, I’m reminded that in Latin, “profession” involves the taking
of vows and bringing things to light and advancing them. Doug and his
wonderful staff are deeply and irreplaceably professional. They’ve
supplied us not only with books, but also with intellectual
companionship and illumination. Bless them all.
My Dutton’s story is the tragedy that I, a
soon-to-be-first-time-published L.A. novelist, will never experience
Doug Dutton’s kind attentions and tender usherings of my literary
effort. As a book buyer, what am I supposed to do? I walk into a
Borders or a Barnes and Noble and get knocked back by the stale breath
of a dying culture offering countless variations of vomit and piffle in
both hardcover and paperback. I’m not going to be able to walk down
their aisles and stumble across The Complete Writings of Emily Carr
like I did at a friend’s book signing at
Dutton’s a few years back. Why, I didn’t even know Emily Carr was a
writer, I only knew of her as an eccentric Canadian painter of the
early 20th century. And I only know a scant few other people who know
of her at all, and they’re Canadians. I found her there, on the shelf
at Dutton’s Brentwood, and it helped me continue on toward my own
novel’s finish line.
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