This week Allison talks to author and book critic David Ulin. Allison and David discuss his essay “The Lost Art of Reading,” which later became a book in which he lamented the difficulties of finding the time and peace to read in today’s increasingly technologically distracting world. The two also discuss David’s trip to Oxford, Mississippi where he crafted a piece about the connection between William Faulkner and his hometown or “the postage stamp of soil” as he referred to it. Ulin’s discusses his trip to Oxford and how the place is drenched in history and reflects Faulkner’s love of writing about the “interplay of the past and the present.” Allison and David chat about his transition from editor to book critic and how the Los Angeles Times has changed since David started work there back in 2005. Ulin talks about how he believes the paper is finally beginning to level out while Allison argues that the paper’s content reflects the mass lay-offs of the last few years and the fact that its owner was based in Chicago and had no connection to Los Angeles.
The two go on to discuss Ulin’s riveting interview with Joan Didion, the New York establishment’s preference for east coast based writers and the wealth of famous writers who have called Los Angeles home, as well as many of the writer’s who’ve written about the experience of being born and raised in Los Angeles. Ulin talks about his anthology of some of L.A.’s greatest writers and how when he contemplated a move from New York to Los Angeles, he read many works about Los Angeles to gain a better understanding of the city.
David and Allison and Producer Nick spend some of the hour talking about the best and worst of the political books already published and some that are sure to come out in this next year and what really makes a great political narrative. It’s a lively discussion that’s both entertaining, humorous and informative. This is a must-see for all book lovers!
David L. Ulin is book critic of the Los Angeles Times. From 2005 to 2010, he was the Paper’s book editor. He is the author of “The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time” and “The Myth of Solid Ground: Earthquakes, Prediction, and the Fault Line Between Reason and Faith,” selected as a best book of 2004 by the Chicago Tribune and the San Francisco Chronicle.
He is also the editor of three anthologies: “Cape Cod Noir,” “Another City: Writing from Los Angeles,” and the Library of America’s “Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology,” which won a 2002 California Book Award. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The Nation, The New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, Black Clock, Columbia Journalism Review, and on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered.
He was awarded a 2010 Southern California Independent Booksellers Association/Glenn Goldman Book Award for his work on “Los Angeles: Portrait of a City.”
02:00 You’re from New York. What prompted you to put anthologies of writing in Los Angeles together?
03:20 Do you find any kind of commonality with writers in Los Angeles?
05:55 Tell us about the diversity of writers in Los Angeles vs New York for example.
08:23 Tell us about your experience of going to Oxford, Mississippi and writing about Faulkner.
14:24 Discuss the writer’s connection to his or her setting.
16:27 Is it normal for you to visit a writers home town when you’re reviewing their work?
17:08 Discuss the reverence that people have for writers in the South vs Los Angeles.
19:10 Tell us about the message you convey in “The Lost Art of Reading.”
22:00 How much did you read when you were the editor for book review in the LA Times?
25:40 Where do you find ‘the silence’ or the time to read?
30:45 What do you think about the explosion of literary criticism online? Who do you consider credible?
34:40 Talk about what has happened at LA Times and how they’ve ‘scaled back.’
41:15 Discuss what you wrote about the disturbing trends in political celebrity authorship.
44:45 Can you articulate what your problem is with unnamed sources in some of the books we’re talking about?
50:17 Degrading the political discourse. Politicians writing history.
55:50 MAYHEM ROUND with Producer Nick.
57:58 Talk about the heartbreaking stories that come out like Jo Didian’s books.
1:00:20 Is there anything you’ve read that you think can give us a glimpse into what the future holds?
1:01:05 What is the definitive 9/11 book in your opinion?
1:04:04 Put the authors on Nick’s list in order of gravitas.
1:06:15 Young adult book genre.
1:09:38 What is the most faithful screenplay adaptation of a book that you’ve seen?
1:11:40 Where do you weigh in on the James Frey fiction debate?
1:20:13 Are there any books that you’ve read recently that you want to recommend to our viewers?
1:22:38 WRAP UP