ANOTHER CITY: WRITING FROM LOS ANGELES | Edited by DAVID L. ULIN | City Lights | 273 pages | $17 paperback
Thirty-seven different local writers, including Aimee Bender, Gerald Locklin, Jervey Tervalon and the Weekly’s Judith Lewis, contribute stories from their own private corners of Los Angeles: from what drew them to live in the sun-scorched and unsettling climate of earthquakes, riots, fires and floods, to simply growing up in the quiet, whitewashed suburb of Simi Valley. Together, this collection of short stories, poems and essays illuminates the landscape of literary L.A. — “a literature of belonging,” Ulin writes, “written by people who have found a stake in Los Angeles.” Ulin reads at Skylight Books on September 16, UCLA Hammer Museum on September 20 and Dutton’s Brentwood on September 25.
A YEAR IN VAN NUYS | By SANDRA TSING LOH | Crown Publishers | 234 pages | $23 hardcover
With her newest book, writer and performer Sandra Tsing Loh continues her chronicle of life on the other side of the hill — where “dumpy,” downwardly mobile neurotics prattle along in the “Hell’s Kitchen of the West Coast,” Van Nuys. Covering four seasons in Loh’s life — from “The Winter of Our Discontent” to “The Fall of Our Dearest Expectations” — A Year in Van Nuys paints a tattered portrait of the little neighborhood the press coined “one of the 10 worst places to live in L.A.” A far cry from Provence.
THE OTHER SIDE OF MULHOLLAND | By STEPHEN RANDALL | L.A. Weekly Books | 277 pages | $24 hardcover
In his comic debut novel, Playboy magazine executive editor Stephen Randall mines the distinctly different lives of identical-twin brothers (and their precarious fraternal bond) as a way of exploring the two faces of L.A. — glitzy Upper Los Angeles, comprising Hollywood starlets and chic restaurants, and Lower Los Angeles, a place filled with “people who came out here to be Cameron Diaz or Brad Pitt and ended up working for Allstate.”
BOOK OF CHANGES | By KRISTINE McKENNA Fantagraphics Books | 264 pages | $15 paperback
A longtime figure on the L.A. arts scene, journalist McKenna has culled her favorite conversations with artists, musicians and filmmakers — everyone from William Burroughs to Mel Tormé. Illustrated portraits from 28 comics artists, including R. Crumb, Peter Kuper and Bill Griffith, fill out the collection.
ROMMELMANN’S LOS ANGELES BAR & NIGHTLIFE GUIDE | By NANCY ROMMELMANN L.A. Weekly Books | 148 pages | $12 paperback
This glove-compartment-size, first-person take on L.A. watering holes grew out of a two-page handout Rommelmann originally created for friends. In more than 200 listings, she points out obscure tidbits about each bar (music legends, notes on décor, â celeb sightings, bouncer profiles, etc.), includes a late-night eating section, and cross-references entries by location, type of music and scene.
TRUE TALES FROM ANOTHER MEXICO | By SAM QUIÑONES | University of New Mexico Press | 336 pages | $30 hardcover
Several of the essays that make up this collection of Mexico City–based journalist Quiñones’ work were originally published in the L.A. Weekly, including the fascinating story of Chalino Sánchez, the gunslinging singer of narcocorridos murdered here in 1992, and the less glamorous but no less intriguing report on L.A.’s Oaxacan basketball leagues.
OUT THERE: ONE MAN’S SEARCH FOR THE FUNNIEST PERSON ON THE INTERNET | By HENRY ALFORD AtRandom.com | 110 pages | $15 paperback
Writer and “investigative humorist” Henry Alford plumbs the bizarre and comic depths of our collective unconscious — as it surfaces on the Web. Clicking back and forth, from rock & roll groupies to sneeze fetishists, Out There is Alford’s relentless search for the funniest person on the Internet. This from one of the funnier people off the Internet.
I WAS CARLOS CASTANEDA | By MARTIN GOODMAN Three Rivers Press | 220 pages | $12 paperback
After the spirit of notorious mystic-writer-anthropologist Carlos Castaneda appeared before him in the French Pyrenees, Martin Goodman wove their posthumous dialogues into a travelogue extending from Machu Picchu and the Peruvian Amazon to the afterlife. At the tender age of four months dead, Castaneda shares shamanistic secrets with Goodman about illness, death, resurrection and, of course, life.
DAZZLER: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MOSS HART | By STEVEN BACH | Knopf | 462 pages | $30 hardcover
Dazzler is the first in-depth biography of the late, legendary playwright and director Moss Hart, who penned such classics as The Man Who Came to Dinner and the screenplay of the Judy Garland A Star Is Born. Final Cut author Steven Bach’s narrative transcends the surface glamour of the New York stage in its golden age to plumb the private, never-before-told back story of the “Prince of Broadway.”