Feb.1: David Ulin and Peter Guber on The Lost Art of Reading

This is a special, almost defining program for Writers Bloc, a program that explores the purpose of reading literature.  David Ulin’s book, The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time, is an intimate and personal exploration of reading novels (and for discussion’s sake, we’ll include the occasional nonfiction work) for the sake of enjoyment, enrichment, stimulation and intellectual engagement.  David examines why reading matters, how thinking about ideas presented in literature can actually help us move forward as a civilization.  At…

Feb. 8: Peggy Orenstein with Lori Gottlieb

Peggy Orenstein writes about what women and girls, and mothers and daughters, should think about.  Her beat includes really anything that matters to women: issues of weight, sex, career, motherhood, investments, relationships, social networks and more—and not in that order.  You’ve read her pieces in The New York Times Magazine, and if you haven’t, start reading.  Her new book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches From the Front Lines of Girlie-Girl Culture,  examines the alarming new “princessmania” of our culture that drives little girls, young girls…

The thrill of the Mystery Bookstore- and the crime that it’s closing

I learned today that The Mystery Bookstore in Westwood will close on January 31. This bookstore has been one of my favorite places in Los Angeles. It’s an automatic tumble into a dreamlike state that can last for minutes or hours, depending on how much time is left on the parking meter. It’s entertaining. Hypnotic. Gratifying. Its catalog of international fiction in quality crime fiction exceeds what even the greediest among us could grab.  The staff know which authors are good and which are great,…

Feb. 10, 7:30 pm: Steve Martin with Dave Hickey SOLD OUT

It can be argued that Steve Martin is our most visible Renaissance Man—our most public creator of so much art.  He’s an award winning banjo player. He’s an actor and comedian whose appeal crosses who knows how many generations.  His tweets alone delight multitudes.  He has also written and appeared in many films, television shows and specials.  Steve’s writing—whether in short humor bursts (150 characters can make us laugh more than we thought possible) or in slightly longer prose form in the shape of novels…

Peggy Orenstein: on the legacy of chicken soup

Peggy Orenstein will chat with Lori Gottlieb on February 8.  She writes the following few paragraphs on the sustaining link between her grandmother and herself. My husband is one of those people who can trace his lineage back for generations. His mother’s parents were born on Shikoku, Japan, the smallest of that country’s main islands. His second cousins still live there, near the family plot where markers for the dead stretch back a full millennium. Our daughter Daisy’s eyes grow wide when we tell her…

The ABC’s of Waiting in Line at the Cavett Book Signing

By Victoria Pynchon Fifteen years ago when Andrea Grossman was asking herself how she might bring her favorite authors to Los Angeles, I was asking myself why I, a commercial litigator and trial attorney, had so few people in my life with whom I could talk about literature.   The law, it turned out, was more business than profession and not a place where the “life of the mind” held much interest. Fast forward to 2010.  More than 1,000 lovers of literature hear Mel Brooks and…

A personal take on the Nora Ephron/Robin Swicord program

by Vejune J. Baltrusaitis At the risk of sounding snobbish or cliché (or both), when you grow up in LA, you can get jaded when in the presence of celebrities. That is, until you find yourself in the presence of certain celebrities. Once Sally Field came into a place I worked and I hid behind the bakery counter trying to catch my breath because I was so star struck. Last night’s event with writer/director Nora Ephron provided a similar experience where I kept reminding myself…