Last month, the New Yorker praised the brand-new book from Michelle Huneven, Off Course, for its crackling sexuality: “The landscape descriptions are erotic, and the erotic scenes have near-hallucinatory power.” But this, Huneven's fourth novel, is far too intelligent to appeal merely to the prurient. The Altadena native understands the consequences of sex with the wrong partner, the way grief can consume us, how alcohol blinds us. Reading Off Course, you may be tempted to set off for the Sierras, where the book is set, in hopes of bagging a hot carpenter. Or you may decide the better plan is never, ever to be tempted to be with the wrong man again. Before becoming the darling of book critics nationwide, Huneven was a food critic for this paper (she left in 2004, she says, “when Jonathan Gold came back to the Weekly“), but even then she thought like a novelist: “I always saw restaurants as a manifestation of the human spirit. To me it was endlessly fascinating that people would take their life savings, or indenture themselves to a restaurant.” Tonight she's in conversation with fellow novelist Mona Simpson, another perceptive, L.A.-based writer at the top of her game. Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; Mon., May 12, 7:30 p.m.; free, book is $26. (323) 660-1175,

Mon., May 12, 7:30 p.m., 2014
(Expired: 05/12/14)

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