Three Questions for Paul Beatty

The Sellout author reveals which 2013 book sent him down a YouTube rabbit hole.

paul beatty, the sellout
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What are three favorite books of 2020 from California and the West?
I’m no California literary connoisseur, but Rosten Woo and Alyse Emdur’s Willowbrook Is…/Es...—an oral and photo history of unincorporated Willowbrook, published in 2013—gave me a ton of pleasure, sending me down a Los Angeles YouTube rabbit hole that I’m just now climbing out of. Other than that, I’m slowly working my way toward Steph Cha’s Your House Will Pay.

What’s a California story that deserves its own book?
Except for the stories I’m thinking about, I’m no California gatekeeper, either. Hopefully, there are more “deserving” writers telling the stories that are important to them.

You write about race with great irony. Many others treat the subject earnestly. What do you think is going on there?
It’s all about race. If you think Joan Didion, Bret Easton Ellis, Eve Babitz, John Fante, Charles Bukowski, and Christopher Isherwood aren’t rendering race, ironically or non-ironically, then you might need to consider that everyone is someone else’s “other,” or from my tired perspective, another “another” at the very least.

John McMurtrie edits for McSweeney’s Publishing and the literary travel magazine Stranger’s Guide.
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