Author Archive
I'm on the Otherppl podcast

I’m on the Otherppl podcast

Ever wondered about my thoughts on religion, AA, and the Midwest? Okay, maybe you haven’t — but tune in to the latest episode of Otherppl with Brad Listi, my favorite literary podcast, to hear me ramble about all of those topics and more! I’ve listened to so many authors I admire on Otherppl, so it was an honor and a treat to get to be part of the podcast myself — And I talked about a lot of things I don’t usually talk about. Religion, AA, and the Midwest are three of these topics, but the episode also has interludes about boarding school, not being vegan, self-help books, and aimlessness. Give it a listen — and if you have thoughts or questions about it, drop me a line. Thanks to Brad for having me! If you’re not yet subscribed to Otherppl, subscribe now — More: 5 best literary podcasts in Los Angeles

6 Best Book Clubs in Los Angeles

6 Best Book Clubs in Los Angeles

If you long to discuss books you love — in real life, outside the confines of Amazon reviews and Goodreads comments — make joining a local book club a resolution. Here are five to check out — For girls who brunch: L.A. Girly Book Club With most of the regulars in their twenties and thirties, this book club usually reads novels by female authors, ranging from the more literary to chick-lit-ish to thrillers. The L.A. chapter’s organized by Janie, who picks out a different fun bar or restaurant for each meeting. Expect a lively conversation over appies and drinks, a raffle for a copy of the following month’s book, and lots of fun post-discussion socializing. One extra fun aspect of the Girly Book Club is the followup event — a brunch, a movie screening, a cookie break — planned between the book club meetings. Often, the events tie in to the latest book. Cost: $5 a month. More: L.A. Girly Book Club: Fiction, food, and fun excursions For the cocktail aficionado: The Edison Book Club This book club offers an intimate chat about a fantastic book over specialty drinks in a speakeasy-style bar — sometimes with a chance to talk […]

Five firsts: Dana Johnson on identity, code switching, and erasure

Five firsts: Dana Johnson on identity, code switching, and erasure

Every month, I interview an author I admire on her literary firsts. July’s featured writer is Dana Johnson, author of Break Any Woman Down. This award-winning short story collection is complex and provocative, often starring characters in the margins of society.  A black stripper tries to figure out what she wants in her relationship with a controlling white porn star. A woman defiantly goes to bars alone, over her daughter’s protests. They’re stories of power and acquiescence, stubbornness and change — all cutting across lines of race, class, and gender. Dana took a couple stories from Break Any Woman Down and expanded them into a novel, called Elsewhere, California. More recently, she published a short story collection about downtown L.A. — and its gentrification — called In the Not Quite Dark. She teaches at my grad school alma mater, USC. In this interview, Dana talks about code switching, reveals which dunzo DTLA restaurant she misses the most, and gets Libran about identity. Sign up with your email to be entered to win a copy of Break Any Woman Down  — and to get notified of future interviews! ___ Siel: Some of my favorite parts in your stories have to do with language. In Break Any Woman Down, there’s […]

The TNB Book Club: Get literary gems delivered to your door for under $10

The TNB Book Club: Get literary gems delivered to your door for under $10

A couple weeks ago, I got home to find a little, nondescript package at my door — a cardboard fold-up marked only with my and the return addresses. Which made me wonder: Who is Fat Possum Records and why did they send me mail and could it be anthrax? Of course, I immediately opened the package — and out came a copy of The Sarah Book by Scott McClanahan. That was all that was in there. There wasn’t even a packing slip! Who sent me the mysterious book? It took me a while, but I remembered that I’d signed up for The TNB Book Club a week or so earlier. TNB stands for The Nervous Breakdown (so yes, the book club is The The Nervous Breakdown Book Club), a literary website that publishes fiction, book reviews, and funny self-interviews where authors ask themselves questions then answer them too. I joined the book club on a whim, partly because I’m a fan of TNB founder Brad Listi’s literary podcast, Otherppl, and partly because I’m a fan of book subscription boxes in general. That said, to call The TNB Book Club a book subscription box is a bit of a stretch. First […]

L.A. Girly Book Club: Fiction, food, and fun excursions

L.A. Girly Book Club: Fiction, food, and fun excursions

What is a book club without appies and drinks? Well, I guess it would still be a book club, technically. But if you prefer your literary discussions to take place over wine and cheese plates at a fun spot in the city, join the L.A. Girly Book Club. The Girly Book Club’s actually a global group, with groups meeting from Seattle to Singapore, all discussing the same book. Most of the novels are by female authors, ranging from the more literary to chick-lit-ish to thrillers like Liane Moriarty’s What Alice Forgot. Last month, the pick was Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing (my microreview here)! The L.A. chapter’s organized by Janie, who picks out a different fun bar or restaurant for each meeting. I joined eight other girls at Vinoteque in West Hollywood for a lively conversation about identity and singing and feminism and work. At the end of the meeting was a raffle for a copy of the following month’s book — then we chatted and socialized over more drinks before calling it a night. With most of the girls in their twenties and thirties, this book club skews much younger than say, the West Hollywood Women’s Book Club. And — thanks […]

One book review in The Los Angeles Review

One book review in The Los Angeles Review

The very last print issue of The Los Angeles Review came in the mail a few weeks ago — and in the back pages is a book review of Nadine Darling’s She Came From Beyond! written by yours truly — I’m so glad that The Los Angeles Review has now gone all digital (there’ll still be a best-of print annual), because that means the reviews get published in a more timely manner. Seriously — I turned in this review for LAR back in April 2016! More than a year later, it’s finally made its way into print — along with some other great reviews plus fiction and poetry. My favorite piece in this issue was a short fiction piece called “Stories About Men” by Rhian Sasseen: I shouldn’t have strayed–but then again, what is literature beyond the stories of cheating wives? When that man standing beside me at the birthday party shrugged and confided, “I don’t really understand what women see in men,” I had to show him. You can buy the last print issue of The Los Angeles Review online — and read and submit your work for future issues online.