Coming Soon to ALOUD: The Extraordinary Tracy K. Smith

Throughout the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet’s new memoir, Ordinary Light, radiant flashes of poetry permeate Tracy K. Smith’s narrative. With great empathy and attention to beauty, Smith recalls her childhood growing up in a sheltered Northern California town, and explores belief, loss, history, and what it means to be black in America. Set against the backdrop of her mother’s illness and death, Smith struggles to understand her mother’s faith until she finds peace and a prayer-like solace through poetry. Before she takes the ALOUD stage on Thursday, May 28 to discuss her moving account of a daughter’s journey, we caught up with Smith about the power of communing with language.

Both poetry and memoir are deeply personal types of writing. What sparked the need to write a memoir that poetry could not fulfill?
I wanted to get out of familiar territory with this story. I wanted to let go of the tools with which I as a poet was most familiar in order to truly explore and interrogate this material. I’d been writing about my mother in poems for a long time, but prose required me to ask different questions, go after different kinds of insights, say things more directly and interrogate the thought process on the page before the reader’s eyes.

How did your daily writing practice change when you transitioned from poetry to prose?
Well, I’d just become a mother when I started this book, so my writing practice had already undergone a major change. I had far less time to write, yet suddenly I had incentive to be far more productive, more efficient. It was great, because I had to push past any hesitation or fear rather quickly so that my writing windows wouldn’t be squandered. I also got over some of the fetishism I’d had the luxury of indulging: needing to be alone in order to write; needing to be in my comfortable, familiar writing space; needing a certain ritual in order to get started.

My revision process also changed radically when I switched to prose. I’ve always been one to revise poems, but working with an editor really taught me how prose is built one layer at a time. At least that’s how it happened for me. I’d write a chapter, and then go back and add another layer of concern, allowing the text to begin to converse with other chapters elsewhere in the book. And then I’d add another layer that allowed my adult self to interrogate the material a little bit, and another layer that did something else, and so on. It fostered a different degree of patience and a different, slower kind of dramatic arc.

Your memoir centers around the loss of your mother. What were the challenges and/or rewards of grappling with such a difficult subject?
It was thrilling to recreate the feeling of being in my mother’s presence. It was a gift to go back and allow these very specific memories to emerge. And yes, it was difficult to confront and acknowledge some of the unresolved conflicts that also characterized our relationship. But thinking things through in language was powerful, as was working with a memory until an insight that was previously unrealized began to announce itself. That kind of retrospection helped me to discover for the first time some of the constant themes running through my own life. Writing helped me, quite literally, make sense of the major experiences I had lived.

What were some of the other stories from your past that echoed in your memory and you wanted to explore on the page?
I wanted to talk about race. I wanted to record and examine what it felt like growing up black in California in the 1970s and 80s. I wanted to talk through some of my own religious preoccupations and clarify for myself what God has meant in my life.

In regards to exploring faith, you describe how the writing of poetry is a type of prayer. Many writers feel the opposite of being at peace while writing. How did poetry come to offer you a kind of inward serenity?
I’m not saying that writing is easy, or that it’s an instant route to inner peace. But being able to reflect upon and to listen to experience in a way that is markedly quieter and more complex than what happens in real-time, during the hectic, noisy, distracting day-to-day, does to me feel purposeful and centering. I think that prayer might be, for many people, a manner of reaching out to something larger and more meaningful than oneself; I feel the same way about poetry, even if what I am seeking to listen to or commune with is simply another region of my own mind. My shorthand for what I’m after when I’m writing is access to the unconscious. But I also hope it might even be possible to draw from sources of meaning that sit beyond the self.

ALOUD takes place at the Los Angeles Public Library; we’re curious if you have any connections to public libraries?
Oh of course! I spent afternoons after school all through my childhood wandering the aisles in the public library. And even as an adult, the Brooklyn and New York Public Libraries have brought me right back to that feeling of being a single small person in the presence of innumerable vast worlds, all lined up on the shelves and within reach.

Click here to make your free reservation to the program!
Thursday, May 28, 7:15 PM
Ordinary Light: A Memoir
Tracy K. Smith

In conversation with Lynell George

Enter to Win—Judy Blume Giveaway!

Beloved storyteller Judy Blume has won the hearts and minds of readers of all ages. With classics like Wifey, Deenie, Freckle Juice, and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, many of us Blume fans have one book that we hold especially dear to our hearts. What’s your favorite? Blume comes to ALOUD on June 9 for a special evening at the Aratani Theatre to discuss her most recent novel and distinguished career, and we’re giving away two free tickets to the program.

To enter for a chance to win, leave a comment telling us which of Judy Blume’s books is your favorite and why it means the most to you. Post your comment here or retweet our contest announcement to @aloudla with your answer and  #BlumeLA before noon on next Friday, May 22 and we’ll select one lucky winner. Learn more about Blume’s upcoming ALOUD program here. Good luck!

Untold Stories: Jennifer Clement at ALOUD

Based on a lifetime of living in Mexico and some 10 years of interviewing and listening to the stories of the female survivors and victims of Mexico’s gruesome drug culture, award-winning author Jennifer Clement delivers a deeply poignant novel about hope in the face of darkness.  Former ALOUD participant and author Francisco Goldman calls the work, “Beguiling, and even crazily enchanting…gives us words for what we haven’t had words for before.”

In today’s Mexico, truth tellers are murdered, journalists are disappeared. As a novelist, poet, human rights activist, and former President of PEN Mexico, Clement lives ever-so-close to that world, and decided to turn to fiction to tell this story, one that remains hauntingly close to real life, in her latest work, Prayers for the Stolen.

This visceral novel sheds light on the fate of young women in rural Guerrero who live in the shadows of the drug war. In the words of Clement, “Prayers for the Stolen is a novel about Ladydi Garcia Martínez. She is part of a community, like so many in rural Mexico, that has been decimated by drug traffickers, government agricultural policies and illegal immigration. Her home is a village near the once glamorous port of Acapulco. Her story, although inspired by truth, is fiction.”

Join us at ALOUD on Thursday, May 14, for an eye-opening conversation with Jennifer Clement moderated by writer Magdalena Edwards.  Simultaneous interpretation into Spanish will be provided by Antena Los Ángeles, as part of ALOUD’s collaboration with LéaLA, Feria del Libro en Español de Los Ángeles, in which Clement will also participate the weekend following ALOUD.  Read an excerpt below from Clement’s powerful book, and make your free reservation for the ALOUD program here.

Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement- Excerpt

Start Your Summer at ALOUD

With all the sunshine and high temps this week, it certainly feels like summer is quickly approaching. What better way to ring in the new season than making plans for ALOUD? This summer, the Library Foundation of Los Angeles’ critically-acclaimed ALOUD series presents an exceptional slate of original programming celebrating great writers, epic poetry, and the history of food in Los Angeles.

Kicking off the season on Tuesday, June 9, ALOUD welcomes one of America’s most beloved storytellers, Judy Blume. In conversation with KPCC host Alex Cohen at the Aratani Theatre in Little Tokyo, Blume will discuss her classic work, passionate advocacy for the freedom to read, and her newest novel for adults, In the Unlikely Event. Tickets can be purchased here and are on sale now.

As part of the Library Foundation’s upcoming project exploring the Los Angeles Public Library’s menu collection, ALOUD presents two exciting panel discussions: On Sunday, June 14, Josh Kun, professor and author of To Live and Dine in L.A.: Menus and the Making of the Modern City, convenes local chefs Joachim Splichal (Patina Group), Cynthia Hawkins (Hawkins House of Burgers), and Ricardo Diaz (Colonia Publica) for a conversation on L.A. food past and present. And on Tuesday, July 14, Kun brings together urban gardener Ron Finley, the Healthy School Food Coalition’s Elizabeth Medrano, and Community Services Unlimited’s Neelam Sharma to discuss the struggles and triumphs of contemporary food activism – or, how we live and eat in L.A.

On Tuesday, June 30, three poets pose the question: “What is it about Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” that so deeply resonates across different cultures?” Poet Christopher Merrill joins poets and translators Luis Albert Ambroggio and Sholeh Wolpé and musician Sabba Motellebi for an evening of music and poetry in English, Persian and Spanish.

Join journalist Lynell George and writer Marisela Norte as they debut a new collaboration on the ALOUD stage on Thursday, July 9. “Love, Los Angeles: A Conversation in Words and Images,” is an on-going project to navigate the quickly-changing landscape of contemporary Los Angeles through photographs and text. Frosty of dublab will also be throwing in a live DJ mix for the program.

Two of today’s most thought-provoking and intimately honest essayists, Meghan Daum (The Unspeakable) and Leslie Jamison (The Empathy Exams), meet on the ALOUD stage on Thursday, July 23 to share their work as they grapple with the modern complexities of being human.

And closing out the season on Wednesday, July 29, Emmy Award-winning composer Laura Karpman with soprano Janai Brugger perform a special adaptation of Karpman’s vocal, orchestral, and visual performance of the Langston Hughes’ poem, “Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz.”

View the full ALOUD summer 2015 calendar at Did you know that Library Foundation Members receive advance notice of ALOUD programs? Learn more about becoming a Member here.

New Short Videos from ALOUD

We hope you’ve spent many evenings with ALOUD at the Central Library, hearing from some of the most groundbreaking artists, authors, scientists, and thinkers of our time. Now, whenever and wherever you have a couple minutes to unwind, you can catch up on illuminating moments from the programs you missed or you want to experience again. Over the years, we’ve been archiving full programs through podcasts and videos, and now we are excited to share with you a new series of short videos highlighting a few favorite moments from some recent programs. Take a short break with ALOUD and enjoy!

“Even at the most dramatic, there’s still a sense of playfulness,” said moderator Elvis Mitchell of Scott McCloud’s graphic novels. Hear how McCloud has made humor his ally.


“It was March, a light snow was falling…” reads Bill T. Jones from his book Story/Time: The Life of an Idea. Watch as the dancers Talli Jackson and Erick Montes Chavero bring to life Jones’ memory of an evening 24 years ago in this beautiful performance at ALOUD.


“Over the next several days, I nearly lost my mind…” begins actor Reza Safai as he read from the deeply personal diary of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a man still imprisoned at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, but who has never been charged with a crime. This is part one of a three-part short video series, which includes a conversation with Slahi’s lawyer, Nancy Hollander, and activist and editor of Slahi’s book, Larry Siems.

Watch over 100 short clips and full programs on ALOUD’s Vimeo page.


Ana Tijoux: Behind the Rebel Spirit

It’s rare to have a look at the mind behind the music, but on April 23, we get this opportunity, when musician Ana Tijoux visits the ALOUD stage to chat all things music, activism and love for Latin America with local poet and translator, Jen Hofer. The program, presented in Spanish with interpretation in English, will also feature an acoustic set with a fellow musician.

The 37-year old musician born to Chilean parents exiled in France during the Pinochet dictatorship fronts her indigenous roots and Mapuche pride in her lyrics, although her voice stretches beyond any one place. Tijoux’s voice is an instrument that pulls vowels to new lengths, breaking and bending phrases, melting words into her genre-defying albums. She’s labeled as an MC and rapper, but she also stylizes funk, soul, and blues. As for “why hip-hop? “Hip-hop is the land of people who don’t have a land,” says Tijoux.

Nurtured by Community
Collaboration is a central part of Tijoux’s work. Her most recent album, Vengo, includes at least five tracks featuring a guest musician, one co-sung with Palestinian rapper and MC Shadia Mansour on “Somos Sur.” Tijoux’s rhymes shoot out like poetic bullets that jump from defiant in “Antipatriarca” to the affirming “Creo en Ti,” a hip-hop duet with Juanito Ayala. It’s an uptempo jazz beat with flutes and a muffled marching band drum that seems to echo adelante (onward) in the background.  It’s the same adelante that is the backbone of her work.

A Voice for Many
Tijoux’s politics are crystal clear in her lyrics, and she’s sure to share them at ALOUD just as she did during a recent informal chat with students at Pomona College and fellow musician Martha Gonzalez of Quetzal, when she recalled pivotal moments from childhood that influenced her vision of the world. Her father had gifted her an “Anti-monopoly” game, and it was originally received with much disappointment that it wasn’t the traditional “Monopoly” she had wanted. Upon learning the values the game espoused: property for all and liberating the incarcerated, her excitement for the game, and passion to do the same in real life, grew. Raised in France among immigrant communitiesfrom Africa and beyond, meant that her world was rich with color and culture at a young age. Returning to Chile as a teen exposed her to her own country’s struggle. These are the stories she tells through song.

Literary and Musical Influences
Tijoux attributes the poetry of Gabriela Mistral as a primary inspiration in her life and work, yet notes how even as the first Latin American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, her presence seems silent compared to Chile’s other grand export, the poet Pablo Neruda.  You can hear the words of Eduardo Galeano in her music, references that became historicized with his recent passing days ago. As for music, Tijoux is awed by the rhythms of Violeta Parra, the mother of the Nueva Canción movement in Chile. “Her identity is so deep, it’s from the root, you can’t even explain it.” Tijoux is right there with her. Rooted. Authentic. We’ll get to hear her and learn more about all of these influences–in conversation and song–at the Los Angeles Public Library on April 23.

After Tijoux’s ALOUD visit, she’ll be participating in a special concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall celebrating Violeta Parra in: Gracias a la Vida: The Rebel Spirit of Chile’s Legendary Voice.

–Posted by Maureen Moore

Library Supporter T.C. Boyle Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

On Saturday, April 18, the annual L.A. Times Festival of Books kicks off on the USC campus, and as part of the festivities the winners of this year’s L.A. Times Book Prizes will be revealed on Saturday evening. But one big winner has already been announced: novelist and short story writer T.C. Boyle will receive the Robert Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement.

TC Boyle

Beyond his many writing accolades, including penning the critically acclaimed books Drop City, The Tortilla Curtain, East Is East, The Road to Wellville, and most recently The Harder They Come, Boyle has been a longtime supporter and friend of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. He’s also been a frequent participant and honorary chair of the annual Book Drop Bash, including this year’s, which will take place on Saturday following the awards ceremony.

The Book Drop Bash is the official after-party of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, exclusively for Library Foundation Members and Los Angeles Times Festival Books authors. If you are not already a Library Foundation Member, you can still attend by becoming a Member today and receive your invitation for two to the Book Drop Bash!! For more information, please contact Membership Director Megan Hamilton at 213.292.6242 or

Before we honor the work of T.C. Boyle this Saturday, listen to the podcast of his conversation at ALOUD from 2010 when he discussed his collection Wild Child as well as his novel The Women about the life of Frank Lloyd Wright. You can also check out his work from the Los Angeles Public Library.

ALOUD Launches Spring Line-up

From a Nobel Prize winner to an acclaimed hip-hop artist, the Library Foundation of Los Angeles’ critically-acclaimed ALOUD series presents an exciting slate of free public programs this spring exploring issues of activism, poetry, politics, performance, and more at downtown’s historic Central Library.

On Wednesday, March 4, ALOUD welcomes Eric Foner, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and consultant on the Academy Award-winning film 12 Years a Slave, to discuss his latest book, which reveals extraordinary new findings about the Underground Railroad. The next day, Thursday, March 5, the multi-talented dancer, choreographer, and director Bill T. Jones (pictured above) visits ALOUD for a conversation and performance with dancers from his company, celebrating the publication of a new book based on his brilliant work as an African American artist in the white-dominated dance world.

Historian Timothy Snyder and journalist Masha Gessen, two essential thinkers on Eastern European politics, convene to offer a revelatory look at the propaganda and reality of the war in Ukraine on Tuesday, March 10. On Monday, March 23, together for the first time on stage, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Adam Johnson and bestselling nonfiction author Blaine Harden explore how different paths of storytelling led them to similar truths about the illusive culture of North Korea.

Thomas McGuane joins ALOUD on Tuesday, March 31, for a reading and conversation about Crow Fair: Stories, his first collection in nine years, which confirms his status as one of America’s most deeply admired storytellers.

On Thursday, April 2, Karima Bennoune, a 20-year veteran of human rights research and activism, offers an eye-opening chronicle of peaceful resistance to extremism with Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism. Continuing these same themes, on Wednesday, April 8, local filmmakers Julia Metzer and Laura Nix offer a rare look into the female experience of contemporary Islam with a screening of their documentary, A Light in Her Eyes, filmed in Syria (film still pictured above.)  Veteran journalist and critically-acclaimed author Sandy Tolan brings another true story of hope in the Palestinian-Israeli impasse with Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land on Tuesday, April 21.

On Thursday, April 23, in partnership with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, ALOUD presents GRAMMY-nominated Chilean hip hop artist Ana Tijoux (pictured above) for a conversation and performance of her politically powered verses and rebel spirit.

Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize-winning economist,  speaks with journalist Jim Newton  about the yawning gap between rich and poor in America on Monday, April 27.

On Thursday, April 30, ALOUD presents the second annual gathering of students from five Southland graduate writing programs – CalArts, Otis College, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, and USC – to share recent work and tune audience ears to the future of language.

In collaboration with LéaLA, Feria del Libro en Español de Los Ángeles, on Thursday, May 14, award-winning author and former PEN Mexico President Jennifer Clement, presents her fictionalized account – drawn from ten years of field research and the author’s own time living in Mexico – of young women in rural Guerrero living in the shadows of the drug war.

And closing out the season, ALOUD presents two incredible evenings of poetry: On Tuesday, May 19, masterful poet and essayist Jane Hirshfield shares her latest two works, Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World and The Beauty, for a close look at poetry’s power to expand perception; and on Thursday, May 28, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy K. Smith (pictured above) reads her poetry and discusses her new memoir, Ordinary Light, a gorgeous kaleidoscope of self and family that explores the meaning of home against a complex backdrop of race, religion, and unbreakable bonds.

The entire ALOUD spring 2015 calendar is now available to the public at Library Foundation Members receive advance notice of ALOUD programs.

Photo Credits:
First image: Photos from performance of Story/Time. Credit: Paul B. Goode
Second image: Arirang Festival- Pyongyang, North Korea. Credit: (Stephan)
Third image: Film still from documentary, The Light in Her Eyes.
Last image: Tracy K. Smith at the Brooklyn Public Library in Brooklyn, New York.
Credit: Rolex/ Tina Ruisinger

A Day in the Life of a City Librarian

When your job is to oversee the country’s largest and most diverse public library system, no two days are the same. City Librarian John Szabo is marking his third anniversary at the Los Angeles Public Library this fall, and he’s made it his mission to stay personally connected to the frontline of the Library and the work of his staff at Central Library and each of the 72 branches. Here’s how he connects throughout the day.

Szabo kicks off the special exhibit No Further West: The Story of Los Angeles Union Station.

Head Start
Before I get out of bed in the morning, I’m looking at e-mail to get ahead of the messages. I read the L.A. Times digitally for the news, and then I consume lots of coffee.

Off to City Hall
An interesting first meeting I recently had was at City Hall over an initiative of the Mayor’s that builds on the work the Library has already been doing on citizenship and naturalization. The mayors of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles have jointly launched  “Cities for Citizenship,” which emphasizes the importance of citizenship, including the economic impact of it. At this meeting, the Mayor’s office convened multiple nonprofits around the table to work with us in this space of citizenship, which the Library is very much at the center.

Szabo talking to City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell and staffer.

Poetry Before Noon
One late morning back at Central Library, the Mayor stopped by to announce Luis Rodríguez as our new Poet Laureate of L.A. Although we do so much great programming around poetry from the teen poetry slams to the ALOUD programs bringing in poet laureates of the United States, this occasion was particularly significant for us because the poet Luis Rodríguez has a long and wonderful relationship with the Los Angeles Public Library. We will so be looking forward to the year ahead with him and his poetry programs for children, teens, and adults.

Central Hub
For lunch, I might grab a salad and eat it at my desk as I prepare for an upcoming board meeting. At our next board meeting, we are accepting a generous gift from the Friends of the Library Group and we are discussing the strategic plan for the Library. Being at the Central Library, it’s easy to go in and out and see our staff and pop into The Library Store and do a little shopping—I absolutely love anything “hardcore library.” I recently got a pair of library card socks and the library card iPhone case. I bought my partner a fantastic grilled cheese cookbook.

At Central, we also have our big staff meetings in the Taper Auditorium with all 72 branch managers. I particularly enjoy seeing everyone from Eagle Rock to San Pedro together in one place, and I love the one-on-one conversations afterwards to hear what’s happening in the communities and with our very big staff.

Also at Central Library, I might have a meeting with the community health councils to talk about our “Know Your Digits,” campaign, which is occurring in seven of our branch libraries as part of our “Health Matters” initiative. We are trying to leverage the physical presence of libraries as trusted, valued institutions to fight health issues and disparities in particular areas of Los Angeles with high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease by helping people get screened.

Dreams Come True
Once in awhile, I’ll have a meeting cancel that will free up my afternoon, so over the last two years I use this time to go out and visit branches. I’ve now visited 65 of the 73 branches—only 8 left to go! I absolutely love going out and visiting our branches because every single one is different—they are different architecturally, the staff is different, the collections are different, the services are different—and all are uniquely positioned to serve their community. The branches are always packed with families or some kind of children’s program like “Storytime.” Recently, I visited the Platt Branch in the West Valley and I got to see an English language study course in action—students from Korea and Guatemala and Mexico and Croatia. It’s the dream of the City Librarian to see these wonderful scenes happening over and over at each branch.

Szabo at the 2014 Book Drop Bash with authors T.C. Boyle and Mona Simpson.

After Hours
My assistant and I are usually in the office until at least six or a little after, and then there’s often evening meetings or events. Sometimes it’s something at City Hall or a Library Foundation event. I love being the “library guy” and representing the Los Angeles Public Library 24-7-365.

When I get home, if I have time, I do some reading. I’m an only child and my dad is a single parent, so my father and I are best friends. He lives in Montgomery, Alabama and is retired, and ever since I went off to college at 18, he has sent me clippings in the mail of interesting things to read. I, as I’m able, do the same. In the evening, it’s a real pleasure and treasure to read through what he’s sent.

Learn more about all the initiatives of the Los Angeles Public Library here.



Eras Colliding: Patton Oswalt at ALOUD

Before Patton Oswalt became a beloved fixture in comedy, film, and television, including roles in Young Adult, Big Fan, and Ratatouille, he was obsessively watching classic movies at the legendary New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles. Discussing his new memoir which takes the reader on a journey into the mind of a film buff, next week Patton will join ALOUD at the Writers Guild Theater for a familial and likely irreverent conversation with his brother and fellow film fanatic, Matt Oswalt. Before the Oswalts take the stage, we caught up with Patton about his addiction to the big screen, books, and his 1.75 million Twitter followers.


You’ve watched a lot of films at the New Beverly Cinema, but you also watch films at library programs. What’s the importance of watching films in a communal setting for you? How does a library screening differ from other cinematic experiences?
Watching films in a communal setting adds a subconscious dimension to the movie that no one—not the director, writers, actors, and not even each individual audience member anticipated would be a part of the experience. Something that you’d shrug your shoulders at watching alone—or that a director, writer and actor conceived and executed as a means to get from point A to point B—can suddenly become a laugh, or a scream, or a groan of exasperation to an audience, wired together emotionally in the dark.

Watching a film in a library adds another aspect—the feeling of eras colliding and battling each other. You’re surrounded by books, which used to be movies for the masses, and there they sit, like tombstones, while up there on the screen is a moving glow which pushed those books further back into the shadows. Very dramatic, if you’re in the right mind for it.

Although your main passion is film, you are also very literary—you’ve written two books and you took part in the Library Foundation’s Moby Dick project last year. What role did books play in your life growing up—and did they influence your love of film?
Patton: Books were a comfortable bolt-hole out of reality, and prepared me to be comfortable with looking through different windows at the way someone who wasn’t me interpreted reality. Any window—page of a book, comic panel, painting canvas, cathode ray tube, movie screen—the mind wants an expanded horizon.

You are very active on Twitter, yet you recently took a break from it. Do you think such forms of communication enhance or pose a threat to the way we use language today?
Any new form of communication can enhance the world we live in—ask the people in Tahrir Square if they think Twitter is a threat—but, like anything, it can get misused or, worse, replace life. There are just as many people who have fallen into the pages of books and never re-emerged as have dissolved their consciousnesses online.

You often take your daughter to the Los Angeles Public Library. Can you talk about your visits to the Library? Why is the Library important to you as a father?
I never go with a specific thing I want to do or don’t want to do. Mainly I like her seeing people excited to get into the stacks, to thumb through pages, to brush up against other minds. The looks on the faces of the freaks, waiting by the main entrance with their notebooks and pages and manifestos? It’s like I’m taking her to see a vanishing species.

An Evening with Patton Oswalt
Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film
In conversation with writer and director (and brother) Matt Oswalt

Friday, January 23, 7:30 PM
Writers Guild Theater