Monday, December 12, 2005

have your social constructs straight

The LA Times is diving head-long into the literary landscape. David Ulin's influence perhaps?

Writers offer the most surprising book they encountered in 2005...

Carolyn See: Hugh Nissenson's novel "The Days of Awe" (Sourcebooks Landmark) changed my life this year. It's set in New York, during a period of about two months before and after Sept. 11. But that is only one of many grimly ominous events. The point the author makes is that everyone is going to die, and THIS MEANS YOU! Thanks to Nissenson, for about a month I was afraid to go into a parking lot or walk through my own house at night or get in a car and drive. He did a wonderful, terrifying job of restating the real terms of the human condition. The book is what art should be.

More writers blog about writing in LA...

Marcos Villatoro: I’ve lived in a lot of places: Bolivia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and a little country called Alabama. My wife and I were involved in political work with poor people. This meant we lived within an environment of consistent fear (especially in Guatemala and Nicaragua, where we were based in specific war zones). In Alabama, our last home, we worked with migrant farm workers, during a time when the Ku Klux Klan liked to march through our town, demanding the Mexicans be burned out of the county.

After those difficult though wonderful, educational years, we landed in Los Angeles. It was here I could get sick. Here, I felt safe. L.A. offers the familiar: I live in a Salvadoran barrio in Van Nuys, where I can walk two blocks and get pupusas. I can’t tell you how important that is. This is a great city to have a nervous breakdown in.

And a great city to get well in too. Sometimes we relegate psychological issues to the circle of concerns of the upper middle class. Yet I know poor men and women who have come to L.A. from far away, have come here running, because of the horrors of their homelands. Here, they rest; and here, they weep. They’re allowed to mourn. They can lose control, without getting lost. Here.

The powers that be offer the best fiction and non-fiction of the year...