There’s something for everyone in this smart, comprehensive anthology of West Coast city living.

DREAMS AND SCHEMES

MY DECADE OF FUN IN THE SUN

A novelist and newspaper writer shares a bounty of true stories and observations on life in Southern California.

Nearly a decade ago, Lopez (The Soloist, 2008, etc.) began writing a human-interest column for the Los Angeles Times, and his impressive awareness on a variety of subject matters is on fine display in this collection of his best work. The author describes an informative lunch date with retired billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad, a $400 haircut at the same Beverly Hills salon Arnold Schwarzenegger frequents and the monetary glut of political officials. The range of his subject matter is pleasingly vast. Dismissing the “hogwash” of parking tickets, traffic, marauding raccoons and coyotes and needless teacher layoffs, Lopez then directs his attention to issues of gay marriage, Iraq, the “skid row” of downtown Los Angeles and the immense hypocrisy of L.A. Cardinal Roger Mahony. With the zeal of an investigative reporter, Lopez devotes plenty of space to the political bureaucracies of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and former California governor Schwarzenegger. He also provides many only-in-L.A. pieces like his chronicle of 97-year-old struggling actress Mae Laborde (who’s now 101 and still working), Lopez’s caretaking of a homeless, classically trained musician (a story that became his book The Soloist, and the film starring Jamie Foxx) and Malibu, the overpriced celebrity-populated enclave where music-industry mogul David Geffen exercised his mistaken “ownership” of the public beach fronting his property. Lopez proves that “crime doesn’t sleep in the naked city,” as he field-tested legal alcohol limits (at a police station), visited prostitutes, and purchased drugs and a fake driver’s license. The sheer variety and accessibility of the columnist’s subject matter is a draw, while the author’s engaging prose speaks for itself.

There’s something for everyone in this smart, comprehensive anthology of West Coast city living.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-933822-31-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Camino Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE

Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more