We hope you’ve enjoyed reading Natalie Diaz’s second poetry collection, Postcolonial Love Poem, our California Book Club pick for February. And if you haven’t read it yet, there’s still time! However, we’ll also have 15 signed copies of the book to give away to viewers at random, so be sure to hop on and watch on Thursday, February 17, at 5 p.m.
We are also pleased to announce our spring 2022 books, which tackle and shape pressing social questions that remain highly relevant to the Golden State. A thriller. A memoir. A social crime novel. Each of these engrossing books is by an acclaimed Southern California author, and you’ll feel the region come to life in them. First up in April is a fast-paced thriller, part of a bestselling, beloved police procedural series about LAPD detectives. Next up, we’ll head in a different direction, reading a brilliant book-length essay, a hybrid work of criticism and memoir about gender. Our third book is a carefully constructed and insightful crime novel that was conceived in response to the police beating of Rodney King, the murder of Latasha Harlins by a Korean American convenience store owner, and the riots that followed in 1992.
Without further ado, here are the books we’ll be reading as winter falls away and a new season blooms, with comments by Alta’s books editor, David L. Ulin.•
THE DARK HOURS, BY MICHAEL CONNELLY
When: Thursday, April 21, 5 p.m. Pacific time.
Kirkus called Connelly’s 36th novel a “bracing test of the maxim that ‘the department always comes first. The department always wins.’” With policing front and center in the news over the past few years, The Dark Hours couldn’t be a more relevant read. Ulin comments, “In his latest novel about LAPD detectives Harry Bosch and Renée Ballard, Connelly updates the police procedural to reckon with the COVID-19 pandemic and the protests over the murder of George Floyd.”
THE ARGONAUTS, BY MAGGIE NELSON
When: Thursday, May 19, 5 p.m. Pacific time.
Nelson’s genre-bending memoir, or autotheory, about falling in love with her fluidly gendered partner, Harry Dodge, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism in 2015. Upon its release, the New Yorker praised it as “a meditation on the seductions, contradictions, limitations, and beauties of being normal, as a person and as an artist.” Ulin writes of The Argonauts, “Equal parts love story and investigation of identity and gender, Nelson’s magnificent book-length essay exists in the space between narrative and theory.”
YOUR HOUSE WILL PAY, BY STEPH CHA
When: Thursday, June 16, 5 p.m. Pacific time.
Your House Will Pay is powerful social crime fiction arising out of a critical juncture in California history. It’s not a book you readily forget. The Los Angeles Times review called it a “deep dive into Los Angeles’ racial underbelly and tensions. It’s a timely book that showcases two cultures and two families forced to confront injustice, enduring anger and profound loss.” Ulin writes, “Inspired by the 1991 killing of Latasha Harlins, Cha’s novel is both a propulsive thriller and a portrait of Los Angeles as a city reckoning with its racial sins.”
On Thursday, February 17, at 5 p.m., Diaz will be in conversation with CBC host John Freeman. We can’t wait! While you’re waiting, take a moment to visit the Alta Clubhouse to discuss Postcolonial Love Poem with your fellow California Book Club members.
LANDSCAPE AND LONGING
A technical support specialist in San Jose, along with others, helped scholars decode a letter in shorthand by Charles Dickens, the meaning of which had eluded them for 163 years. —SFGate
RELATIONSHIP TO THE WORLD
Author and lawyer Daniel A. Olivas reflects on Diaz’s poem “Snake-Light” and the legacy of colonization. —Alta
FRONTIER COLLISION WITH REALITY
Nearly 40 years after its release, historian Bennett Parten proposes that Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian is not only a great American novel, but itself a work of history, noting in a long-form essay that “it anticipates some of the major historical turns of the past decades.” —Los Angeles Review of Books
Alta Journal contributor Heather Scott Partington writes an appreciation of NBCC Autobiography award finalist Gay Bar, by California-raised essayist Jeremy Atherton Lin. The book includes fascinating chapters about the queer histories of San Francisco and Los Angeles. —National Book Critics Circle
Syndicate Books is reissuing Joseph Hansen’s 12 detective novels about Dave Brandstetter, a tough Los Angeles insurance investigator who is also gay. The first of these books, Fadeout, was published in 1970. —NPR
EMPIRE OF THE AGE
Alta contributor Rebecca Morgan Frank praises Albert Samaha’s Concepcion, which traces his Filipino family’s history back generations, including their move to Vallejo and San Francisco. —National Book Critics Circle
Buried around seven feet into the earth, dystopian author Christopher Brown’s house feels like a bunker. It’s by intent. —Texas Monthly
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