By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
In time I made many, many great friends in
L.A. It is my home now. But still, there are days when I need those
special friends, when I slide into Dutton’s and just lose myself. Now,
where the hell am I supposed to go on those days?
I love Dutton’s. Not only did I first read
there (what seems like a million years ago), I shop there every time
I’m in L.A., sending books back to NYC for my own work, and more
recently sending children’s books home to my daughter. This is very,
very sad news.
A.M. Homes is the author of This Book Will Save Your Life and
The Mistress’s Daughter.
I gave my very first reading from my first
novel, Offsides, at Dutton’s in 1996. My son, Flannery, was 8 years
old, and he wanted to wear a tie to my first book signing (one of the
few times in his life that Flannery, now 19, has ever worn a tie!). My
husband was working that night, so I had both kids with me. I didn’t
have time to put on the tie (or know how) so Doug Dutton taught
Flannery how to tie his tie before my reading. Dutton’s was the store
that invited me to read when other stores said no. From the very
beginning, they have supported me and so many other new authors, and I
will miss them very much.
The very first reading of my memoir, If the
Creek Don’t Rise, took place in May of 2006 on a balmy Sunday afternoon
in that lovely Dutton’s courtyard, with my friends sprinkled up and
down the stairway and arrayed around the tree. It was both a thrill and
an honor to find my own work among that collection of books on the big
table in the west room. I had found a haven there for years. Tucking
myself into some nook with a cup of coffee and finally emerging with
that “have to have” book that would keep me up all night reading. I
cannot begin to express what a loss this is — to me, personally, as
well as to the community.
Of all the bookstores where I did readings and signings for my second novel, Final Performance
, my best experience and turnout were at
Dutton’s. I remember Doug treating me kindly and generously, all the
more meaningful because I am a pretty unknown writer. The thing about
Doug is that he didn’t distinguish between midlist, poorly-selling but
hard-working writers and the bigger, successful ones, and I’ve long
respected him for it. It’s a shame the doors are closing, and a real
loss for L.A.
Losing Dutton’s is like losing a safe home —
for writer and book. My first time at Dutton’s, I’d written a novel and
figured I’d sketch the story then read a paragraph. That was fine, but
then I went to a Carolyn See reading. She plunges into the meat, serves
up a page or two or three, maybe a short chapter! I wrote more novels.
I found that readings in other stores, particularly the chains, were
like attending an office meeting. And they aren’t held in the
bookstore’s garden (like at Dutton’s) with homemade food cooked by the
author’s kids! The people at Dutton’s know books and like books. I
could trot into the store, name a title, and they had it or they didn’t
— but they knew of it. What a concept!
To Doug and Dave, the constants, to Diane
Leslie, Kathleen Matson and many others over the years: You helped
writers, you made writers feel good. And you invited us to read the
work we’d spent a year or 10 writing! I cherish the times you gave all
A few years later I founded a tiny press
called John Brown Books to publish the manuscript myself. I drove boxes
of the book around town and, despite a fine review in the L.A. Times
, got treated like a pariah just about
everywhere, like some self-published whacko with a spiral-bound book
about how to run your car on tap water. A few stores took a few books,
but only on consignment. I finally went to Dutton’s and Doug himself
came out to meet me, talk to me warmly, introduce me to his staff, buy
six copies and pay for them on the spot. I felt human again. I was
almost crying. I’ll never forget that gracious afternoon and what a
gentleman Doug Dutton was to me.