What we’re reading: Thrills from a chef’s memoir and sci-fi bestseller


Hello and welcome to the LA Times Book Club newsletter.

When Keith Corbin written about growing up in a world awash with drugs, guns and gangs, it burns with the intensity of the best pulp fiction, the author says Jerry Tervalon. “But it’s not fiction, it’s the life he lived.”

Tervalon praises the authenticity of Corbin’s new book, “California Soul: An American Epic of Cooking and Survival,” a gritty chronicle of the unexpected journey from drug-dealing boss to inmate and then co-owner of one of America’s most famous restaurants. Los Angeles.

August 23, Corbin will join the LA Times Book Club for a conversation with the Times editor Daniel Hernández about the inspiration for her Californian soul food, her hard-earned redemption and her desire to give back.

“Much of Corbin’s writing … is what detective novel writers aspire to, but the language and conventions of detective writing sometimes seem stilted or manufactured. Reading ‘California Soul’ is a different experience,” says Tervalon.

“Corbin’s story unfolds without self-awareness and in his own language, a language that is not the generic street vernacular but the patois of those of us who grew up in Black Los Angeles.”

Corbin’s early life as a drug dealer landed him in jail, but that turned out to be the beginning of his story rather than the end. After his parole, he landed a job at a refinery and was soon promoted, only to be fired when a background check revealed his criminal record. He needed a job and heard about a new restaurant in his old neighborhood of Watts that was hiring. “It was about paying bills,” he says in a conversation with Laurie Ochoa in the Times kitchen.

This desperate choice changed his life. The restaurant was Locol, created by chefs Daniel Patterson and Roy Choi with the goal of bringing “quality, chef-led food at low prices to a food desert,” says Corbin. There he went to work as a line cook and learned from his new mentors. Locol closed in 2018, “but I wouldn’t be where I am today without it,” says Corbin.

Join us for this month’s book club night with Corbin at 7 p.m. PT on August 23 at the ASU California Center, located in the historic Herald Examiner Building downtown. Get tickets to attend in person or virtually.

Before the book club begins, ASU will offer a guided tour of the new landmark, which was built by the publishing titan Guillaume Randolph Hearst more than a century ago. Space is limited; register on Eventbrite when you get your tickets.

Tell us: What questions do you have for Keith Corbin and Daniel Hernández? Send your questions and comments to bookclub@latimes.com.

Get the recipe: The Food section of The Times features Corbin’s Vegan California Gumbo from its Alta Adams menu.

September Book Club

Mark your calendar for September 27 when successful novelist Silvia Moreno Garcia joins us to discuss his new sci-fi thriller, “Doctor Moreau’s Daughter”.

Born in Mexico and now living in Vancouver, Moreno-Garcia has been moving across genres for years, moving with ease between fantasy, mystery, sci-fi, horror and dark stories. president obama has included her recently LA Times Book Prize finalist novel “Velvet Was the Night” on her 2022 summer reading list. She is also the author of “Mexican Gothic” and “Gods of Jade and Shadow.”

“Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s fictions are full of shape-shifters”, says the critic Paula L. Woods. “And they’re at the heart of his latest novel, ‘Doctor Moreau’s Daughter,’ which reframes HG Wells’ classic tale of terrifying human-animal hybrids as a thrilling and romantic anti-colonial adventure set in the Yucatán Peninsula.

“If you read his work as deeply as it deserves to be read – beyond his feelings of turning the page… you will see that what lies beneath is even more amazing: a perspective on history as broad and inclusive as you’re likely to see in fiction — not to mention a bestseller list.

September 27Moreno-Garcia will be in conversation with the editor of the Times Steve Padille at 6 p.m. PT. Register on Eventbrite.

If you like these community discussions: Please consider becoming a benefactor of the new Los Angeles Times Community Fund, which supports our flagship literary programs: the LA Times Book Club and the annual book awards.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia seated, smiling and wearing a colorful floral print jacket.

In September, the LA Times Book Club reads Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s new bestseller, “Doctor Moreau’s Daughter.”

(Martin Dee)

keep reading

The long shadow of ‘The Satanic Verses’. Journalist Patt Morrison talks about his several interviews with Salman Rushdiehis books and the 1989 fatwa on the author’s life following last week’s near-fatal attack at a conference.

The future of publishing. President of the Authors Guild Douglas Preston explores how an ongoing antitrust lawsuit in Washington, DC, could reshape the books we read — and who writes them. “Less competition will change the dynamic,” said Macmillan chief executive Don Weisberg testified.

Go home. Times reporter Melody Gutierrez writes about what she discovered return to his abandoned childhood home near Twentynine Palms. His story quotes jerry burger, author of “Returning Home: Reconnecting With Our Childhoods,” who notes that many of us feel particularly strong emotions about where we lived between the ages of 5 and 12. “It seems like these are key years,” Burger says. “For many people, their identity is tied to this place, to this time.”

A newspaper article about returning to an abandoned childhood home.

Epic comic on screen. A New Anime TV Adaptation Makes The Most Of by Neil Gaiman “The Sandman”, writes the critic Robert Lloyd.

New enlightened podcasts. Check out past book club guests Chez Susan Orleans “Book Exploder”, a spin-off of the Netflix series “Song Exploder”, which features authors such as Min Jin Lee, George Saunders and James McBride “Break down a passage from one of their works, showing how much work goes into each paragraph of a book,” writes Alison Stewart at wnyc.org. Also, Times Books Contributor Bethanne Patrick just launched the “Missing Pages” podcast: “Patrick reinforces the lesson of never judging a book by its cover by unraveling some of the biggest scandals in the publishing industry”, said the Guardian. I’d love to hear about other podcasts and audiobooks that book clubbers enjoy. Share your suggestions in an email to bookclub@latimes.com.

“If it’s forbidden, read it.” Craig Johnsonauthor of the popular series Longmire (the next episode, “Hell and Back”, arrives in September), shares his favorite forbidden books in a recent interview. “I’m still amazed by that, because I guess my first question to these people trying to ban these books would be, ‘Have they read them? “”

Summer reading with Boris: “For me, summer can be a bit of a busman’s vacation, as I’m stocking up on the fall books we plan to cover,” says Times Books editor Boris Kashka. “This year, it’s all about At Cormac McCarthy from dizzying novels to come, “The Passenger” and “Stella Maris”, to “Which Side Are You On”, by Ryan Lee Wong hard-hitting story of a young activist and his Korean-born mother discussing politics as they drive around Los Angeles. But it’s also a season to catch up on older, demanding books. I’m glad to dig deeper Mike Davis’“City of Quartz,” a fascinating crash course in Los Angeles history from a working-left perspective — but really from every angle. You get the intellectual history, the union and anti-union movements, the big picture of industrial and political forces jostling to take advantage of the sun and diverting water for themselves as they sell an impossible dream.

Reserved until: Finally, the new LA Times Book Club merchandising is hereand the collection includes hats, socks and a cool crew neck that ‘Dirty Dancing’ star Jennifer Gray showed off at our July book club party in Hollywood.

A woman wearing glasses holds a white sweatshirt with the words

Jennifer Gray at the LA Times Book Club.

(time worker)

ICYMI, you can still watch Gray discuss her memoir, “Out of the Corner,” and see her relive the infamous elevator scene with co-start patrick swayze. “It’s like watching movies at home for me,” she told the interviewer Amy Kaufman. “I remember every moment.”

Two women seated on stage in an excerpt from "dirty dance" plays on a screen above their heads.

“Dirty Dancing” star Jennifer Gray discussed her memoir with LA Times reporter Amy Kaufman at the Montalbán Theater in Hollywood.

(Varon Panganiban / For The Times)


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