Angelenos Unite to Read Homer

The epic journey of the Library Foundation’s month-long, city-wide celebration, The L.A. Odyssey Project, docks at the Central Library this Saturday, October 25, for a marathon reading of Homer’s epic poem. The words of Homer were originally spoken aloud to rapt audiences, and to relive this oral tradition “Our Odyssey: A Reading of Homer’s Epic By the People and For the People” will feature over 200 Angelenos, including students, celebrities, scholars, librarians, veterans, Library Foundation Members, and more.

Actors Cloris Leachman, Rhea Perlman, Bradley Whitford, Susan Sullivan, and Roger Guenveur Smith; musicians Lisa Loeb, Lol Tolhurst (The Cure), and Ceci Bastida; sleight of hand artist Ricky Jay; KCRW traffic queen Kajon Cermak; and others will read through the poem over the course of the day and the voice of Homer Simpson (Dan Castellaneta) will provide running commentary, abridging the epic poem for the audience.

Simpsons_OdysseyPoster_R7

Everyone is invited to attend this free event. Bring the entire family and enjoy an Odyssey puppet show in the KLOS Story Theater or craft your own puppet inspired by the epic in the breathtaking Rotunda!

“Our Odyssey: A Reading of Homer’s Epic By the People and For the People”
Presented in collaboration with The Readers of Homer
Saturday, October 25

2nd Floor Getty Gallery, Central Library
10:30am – 5:30pm

To learn more about The L.A. Odyssey Project, visit lfla.org/odyssey.

 

 

 

Coming Soon to ALOUD: From Poland’s Solidarity to Egypt’s Tahrir Square

None of us were here to live through America’s Revolutionary War that secured our own democracy; but revolutions have succeeded and failed in our lifetimes. Come to ALOUD on Tuesday, October 21, to hear from two courageous writer-activists—one from Poland, the other from Egypt—who have lived through the triumph and heartbreak of their countries’ struggles for freedom.

Adam Michnik, one of Poland’s most influential public intellectuals, perhaps one of the most influential journalists in the world—and a key player in Poland’s transition from Communism to democracy—will be joined by Yasmine El Rashidi, visiting Los Angeles from Cairo, where she writes about the aftermath of the electrifying events in Tahrir Square that brought down a president and raised so many hopes for a democratic Egypt.

Michnik and El Rashidi both speak truth to power. They’ve both written extensively about their on-the-ground participation in the revolutions that swept their respective countries—Poland and Egypt—decades apart.  Michnik, imprisoned during martial law in Poland, wrote in his Letters from Prison, “…you score a victory not when you win power but when you remain faithful to yourself.” El Rashidi, in her poignant essay, “The Revolution Is Not Yet Over,” wrote, “It seems that the battle for Egypt will be one not just for power and against despotic leaders and corruption, but about values, principles, and even a more basic vision of what kind of day-to-day life the people want.”

What does a veteran of one revolution that succeeded have to say to someone who’s lived through one that failed, or has yet to be resolved? (or—a revolution, as pointed out by one resident of Cairo, “in the circular sense of the word. You go back to where you started.”) NPR’s former diplomatic correspondent, Mike Shuster, who’s reported from Tehran to Islamabad, Berlin to Moscow, will moderate what should be a lively discussion between our two guests.

This program is co-presented with the Consulate General of Poland. Learn more about Fomenting Democracy: From Poland’s Solidarity to Egypt’s Tahrir Square and make your free reservation.

“… my relationship with this city, with a culture, with my home, has forever been changed, and my memory of the 18 days, the revolution, are mere fragments of a larger journey and a search that I now wait to complete.” -Yasmine El Rashidi, “Cairo City in Waiting”

“In Poland, not a single window was broken, and the dictatorship was overthrown by the ballot. Poland was the first communist state to gain the capacity to decide about its own fate. That freedom brought anxiety and insecurity.” -Adam Michnik, The Trouble with History: Morality, Revolution, and Counterrevolution

–Posted by Louise Steinman
–Main image: Tahrir Square, November 2011. Credit: Hossam el Hamalawy

 

Lost & Found at the Movies: An Odyssey Sneak Peek

This Friday, October 10, all roads lead to Ithaca at our next installment of Lost & Found at the Movies. As part of the Library Foundation’s month-long L.A. Odyssey Project, Lost & Found series curator John Nein will take us on an epic examination of The Odyssey on film. From George Melies and the earliest days of cinema, to the “sword and sandals” era, to the Coen brothers and Mad Men, what is it about The Odyssey, antiquity, and man’s quest for home that so entices the imagination? Watch this sneak peek below of what’s to come when we look at Homer in Hollywood.


Make your free reservation for Lost & Found at the Movies:

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Ithaca
Friday, October 10, 7:30 PM
Mark Taper Auditorium, Central Library
Featuring professor Alex Purves (UCLA Department of Classics)
with series curator John Nein, Senior Programmer, Sundance Film Festival

The Epic Embarks Across Los Angeles

It’s October, which means The L.A. Odyssey Project will begin its journey into the neighborhoods of Los Angeles to explore the connections between literature, history, science, and the humanities to shine a distinctly Southern California light on Homer’s epic poem. From a Cyclops puppet show, to bike riding with Lotus Eaters, to a marathon public reading, here’s a sample of the many ways you can chart your own voyage into Homer’s The Odyssey across Los Angeles this October. For a full calendar of upcoming events, visit www.lfla.org/odyssey.

Artist engagement: Los Angeles artist Peter Shire is re-imagining a modern day Greek vase with a distinctly Southern California perspective. He has been inspired by the collection at The Getty Villa and by the individual Odyssey of an iconic Los Angeleno.

Ongoing throughout October, Los Angeles Public Library Branch programs in each region: These will be envisioned by some of our greatest resources, the creative and innovative public librarians. There will be more than 90 events in total, spread over 15 branches in the Los Angeles Public Library system.

October 2: ‘Homer… the Rewrite’ ALOUD at Central Library

Madeline Miller and Zachary Mason, in conversation with Molly Pulda
Zachary Mason’s brilliant debut novel, The Lost Books of the Odyssey, reimagines Homer’s epic story of the warrior Odysseus’ long journey home with alternative episodes, fragments, and revisions. Madeline Miller’s retelling of The IliadThe Song of Achilles – offers a fresh take of the Trojan War that was both an homage to Homer and a startlingly original work of art. Together at ALOUD for the first time, these two brilliant young novelists discuss the art of rewriting a classic.

October 4: Commit a Poem to Memory Day. In ancient Greece, oral poets known as rhapsodes, committed epics to memory and recited them for the entertainment of the public.  Because of this tradition, The Odyssey survived for centuries before it was finally written down. On October 4, we will celebrate the oral tradition with “Commit a Poem to Memory Day.”  If The Odyssey seems too daunting, we can recommend Constantine Cavafy’s poem “Ithaka” which is about the odyssey we all undertake to find our own home.

October 5: The L.A. Odyssey Project at CicLAvia

Bicyclists will be invited to decorate their bikes and join along in an Odyssian journey that will include encounters with The Odyssey’s Lotus Eaters, Cyclops and the Sirens in downtown Los Angeles.

October 9: ‘An Odyssey of The Odyssey’ at The HAMMER Museum. In this unique one-night only event, writer/director and media artist Lars Jan brings together the worlds of theater, network science and data visualization to create a trans-disciplinary narrative for the digital age. Collaborating with actor Roger Guenveur Smith, the MAPPR team: ecologist Eric Berlow, data artist/designer David Gurman and computer scientist Kaustuv DeBiswas, and classics researcher Daniel Powazek, Jan will take us on a journey to experience the ripple effect of creative influence which Homer’s Odyssey has inspired across time, space and culture.

October 10: ‘A Strange Thing Happened on the Way to Ithaca’

Lost & Found at the Movies at Central Library. The Odyssey has inspired filmmakers around the world from George Melies in the earliest days of cinema to the Coen brothers in recent years. What is it about the epic poem that entices the cinematic imagination? What did we learn from the ancient Greeks about storytelling? What did we learn about Homer from Hollywood (and is any of it right)? And just how does all that swordplay happen? Celebrate the Library Foundation’s month-long exploration of The Odyssey with this look at the larger-than-life tale on film.

October 15: Alice Oswald at HAMMER Museum. Acclaimed British poet and Classicist Alice Oswald recites – from memory – her epic poem, “Memorial: An Excavation of the Iliad.” Described as “a concentrated, intense, multi-tasking elegy” Memorial is poetry on a grand scale that brings the account of the Trojan War into contemporary focus. Recipient of the inaugural Ted Hughes Award, Alice Oswald has also won the T.S. Elliot Award and the Warwick Prize for Writing.

October 16: Alice Oswald at the Getty Villa. Renowned British poet and Classicist Alice Oswald, whose elegiac “Memorial: An Excavation of the Iliad” won the 2013 Warwick Prize for Writing, shares her thoughts about Light as a character in The Odyssey and reads a poem on the subject.

October 18: Peter Shire in conversation with Mary Hart at the Getty Villa

L.A. artist Peter Shire joins Getty Villa curator Mary Hart for a conversation about ancient and contemporary storytelling through art. The tour features a presentation of Shire’s recent interpretation of a Greek vase, which sets the tale of Odysseus in contemporary Los Angeles. In the galleries, explore the ancient Greek vases that inspired his new work.

October 25: ‘Our Odyssey: A Reading of Homer’s Epic Poem By the People and For the People’ at Central Library. The words of the poet Homer were originally spoken aloud to rapt audiences who sat spellbound by tales of kings and heroes, battles and sorrow. Relive the experience of this oral tradition by taking part in an exciting daylong marathon reading of The Odyssey at the historic Central Library in downtown Los Angeles. Readers of all ages and backgrounds are invited to participate in this unique opportunity to bring this thrilling tale of the voyage of Odysseus to life and to enjoy the experience of reading poetry aloud. This program will be presented in association with The Readers of Homer, an organization that stages public readings of Homer’s epics around the world. During the day-long reading, Central Library will come alive with Odyssey-themed shadow puppet shows, food trucks, Cyclops sightings, arts and crafts, and more.

October 26: Libros Schmibros Book Club at HAMMER Museum. James Joyce scholar Colleen Jaurretche will lead the group in considering the relationship between Homer’s Odyssey and Joyce’s Ulysses.

October 27: ‘The Warrior’s Return: From Surge to Suburbia’ ALOUD at Central Library

David Finkel and Skip Rizzo, in conversation with Tom Curwen
When we ask young men and women to go to war, what are we asking of them? When their deployments end and they return – many of them are changed forever.  How do they recover some facsimile of normalcy? MacArthur award-winning author David Finkel discusses the struggling veterans he chronicled in his deeply affecting book, Thank You for Your Service, with Dr. Albert “Skip” Rizzo, Director for Medical Virtual Reality at the Institute for Creative Technologies, who has pioneered the use of virtual reality-based exposure therapy to treat veterans suffering from PTSD.

For more information on these events, and to learn more about The L.A. Odyssey Project, related reading, and more visit the website here.

 

Salvaging Humanity Through Storytelling: Jesmyn Ward at ALOUD

The immensely talented writer Jesmyn Ward can elevate the most dire circumstances into beautiful elegies. She won a National Book Award in 2011 for her second novel, Salvage the Bones, which follows a pregnant teenager’s courage to survive in a post-Katrina Mississippi. Last September, Ward published her first nonfiction book—Men We Reaped, (a finalist for the Indies Choice Book of the Year Award and for the National Book Critics Circle Award)—a memoir about the despair and racism surrounding growing up in rural poverty in Mississippi. Her work casts a penetrating look at race in contemporary America, and on Thursday, September 25, Ward visits ALOUD for a conversation with New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow, who will share from his recent memoir, a recollection of a painful childhood in an out-of-time African-American Louisiana town. We caught up with Ward about the state of Southern American literature, and how although her own writing is deeply rooted in a region, it transcends boundaries.

Maya Angelou, who recently passed away, gave voice to the often-overlooked characters of our times—African Americans, women, Southerners. How do you think the boundaries she pushed in writing about such subjects altered the course of American letters?

Ward:
One of the most striking aspects of Ms. Angelou’s work is her demand that the reader acknowledges her characters as human beings, that her readers acknowledge her characters’ humanity and dignity. It is remarkable that African Americans, women, Southerners, populate her work, but it’s even more remarkable that members of even more underrepresented groups in literature teem in her pages: sex workers, the poor, survivors of sexual and physical abuse, etc. The forthright honesty and the meticulous attention to detail that Ms. Angelou infuses her writing with makes the reader see these disparate people as real, as common and human as the reader. She showed readers and writers alike that it could be done.

Although your writing is deeply rooted in the themes and landscapes of a region, it speaks to many universal hardships of poverty, racism, and crime. How do you balance writing from such a specific place and breaking out of that constraint to represent a broader humanity?

Ward: One of the most common misconceptions I encounter about the South is that the problems one encounters here are endemic to this region only, and are worse here. That somehow, these problems are different, alien to the rest of the country and the nation. I hoped that writing about my people, imbuing people that are very particular to this place and these circumstances, with careful attention to their humanity would make their problems familiar to the reader, would lessen that propensity to make aliens out of us Southerners.

After writing two deeply personal novels based on real events like surviving Hurricane Katrina, you decided to write a memoir. What was this transition like? 

Ward: It was a scary transition for me. I’d never written creative nonfiction longer than a twenty-page essay before, so the prospect of writing a book was daunting. But I believed in the story I was writing—I believed that it was important and that it needed to be told. So I was foolhardy and brave all at once, and that helped me to stumble my way through the first draft of the memoir.

In both your fiction and nonfiction, you take on social and political issues. What were the different challenges in each of these genres in grappling with these issues?

Ward: It’s easier to take on social and political issues in fiction. There’s a distance there because the characters come alive and act organically, and the commentary about the issues comes through the characters as they live their lives. But in nonfiction, the narrator speaks. There is no distance. The narrator has to own his or her opinions on social and political issues. The narrator has to be self-aware and offer commentary. That’s hard.

Men We Reaped follows tragedies surrounding the young men in your community who represent a “lost” faction of our society. Do you see any solutions for saving others from similar fates?

Ward: Others have asked me this question, and I don’t have a good answer for it. I think that talking about these tragedies, acknowledging them, recognizing the breadth and the horror of children, of young Black adults, dying because their lives are worth less is important. That sharing our stories that allow Black people to transcend statistics is important. I hope we can have a conversation that leads to solutions.

What role might places like the public library play to offer support to our youth in need of safe havens?

Ward: Reading saved my life. It saved me when I was a child, it saved me in my teen years, and it continually saves me as an adult. The library has always been a place of refuge for me because it is my gateway to different people and places and realities. I found my humanity, my dignity, in books. I imagine books can help other young people do the same. I know that most public libraries allow young people access to computers and the Internet as well, and I’ve seen that the Internet can foster new communities and knowledge. I also think public libraries are important places for reading groups to form and meet, reading groups where conversations about race and poverty and what it means to be young in America can definitely take place.

Visit lfla.org/aloud for more information about this event.
Through Trying Times: Stories of Loss and Redemption in the American South
Thursday, September 25, 7:15 PM
Charles M. Blow and Jesmyn Ward

In conversation with Robin Coste Lewis

–Posted by Bridgette Bates
–Photos: Jesmyn Ward (credit: Tony Cook) and Charles M. Blow (credit: Beowulf Sheehan)

 


The Library Foundation Celebrates 22 Years

“This is a great Library and it has a wonderful history because it is a Phoenix of a Library. It was reborn from ashes,” said Susan Sontag of the Los Angeles Public Library. On September 20, the Library Foundation of Los Angeles will celebrate its 22nd anniversary with a gala to benefit the great Los Angeles Public Library. Held biannually, the anniversary festivities raise funds for three major program areas supported by the Foundation: Investing in New Readers, Helping Students Succeed, and Creating the Innovative Library of the Future. Over the last two decades, the Foundation has brought together a community of supporters to celebrate the legacy of the Los Angeles Public Library by honoring authors including Susan Sontag, philanthropists, individuals, foundations, and corporations who all share a commitment to the mission of the Los Angeles Public Library and a passion for great literature.


Larry McMurty and Diane Keaton, 2008.

This year, the Library Foundation pays tribute to Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Junot Díaz with the Los Angeles Public Library Literary Award. Presented to an author for his or her outstanding contribution to literature, the Literary Award has also been given to Salman Rushdie, Walter Mosley, Tom Brokaw, August Wilson, Carlos Fuentes, John Updike, and E.L.Doctorow, among some of the other notable writers below.

Louise Erdrich in 1997.


Tony Kushner (far left) pictured with ALOUD’s Louise Steinman in 2007.
Stephen King (right) in 2010.


Norman Mailer, 2006.


David McCollough (left) in 2002.

During this year’s celebration, bestselling author Judith Krantz will also receive the Foundation’s Light of Learning Award for her devoted advocacy for the Los Angeles Public Library. Former Light of Learning recipients include Sharon and Nelson Rising, The Ahmanson Foundation, the Mark Taper Foundation, Wallis Annenberg, Gary Ross, and other longtime supporters.


Doris Kearns Goodwin (Literary Award Winner in 2000) with Gregory Peck (Light of Learning Recipient in 1996).



Seamus Heaney (on the left, Literary Award Winner in 1998) with Flora Thornton (Light of Learning Recipient in 1998).


Harper Lee (on the right, Literary Award Winner in 2005) with Veronique Peck (Light of Learning Recipient in 2009).

Thanks to all the supporters of the Library Foundation over the years who have contributed to providing free access to ideas and information and the civic, cultural, and educational core of our community.

Junot Díaz on the Blessings and Curses of Language

“As an articulate champion of the immigrant experience, unparalleled in sheer originality of language, with a keen sense of history, culture, and the way forward, Junot Díaz is a writer relevant to the people of Los Angeles at this very moment,” says City Librarian John F. Szabo. The author of the critically acclaimed Drown; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist, Díaz will receive the Los Angeles Public Library’s Literary Award this fall. Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey, Díaz’s work has been hailed for its colloquial spin on a modern American voice—a blend of English and Spanish, slang, hip-hop, and poetry to create fiercely exquisite human portraits. The recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and PEN/O. Henry Award, we asked Díaz what fuels his electrifying writing before he arrives in L.A. to receive his newest honor.

You immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic as a child—what was the role of literature in your life during that transformative time?

Díaz:I doubt I could have survived that process, that madness, without books, without reading. My public library saved my life. My letter to Hogwarts was my first library card.

You can’t imagine the confusion of immigration. We all deal with it differently. I coped by trying to understand where I was and how I got there and in order to understand I read—everything.

Very few people are actually writing today in multiple languages, yet this is how a majority of the world communicates. When do you think publishing will catch up to this reality?

Díaz:Soon, I hope. But literature like film seems especially addicted to whiteness. The day that the faces on screens and on pages correspond to the diversity of our actual lives will be a great day indeed.

Your writing has been celebrated for its beautiful elasticity—the expansive nature of multi-lingual characters, the interplay of the vernacular, song, and cross-cultural experiences. When did you first fall in love with language and think maybe you would become a writer?

Díaz: Love? I don’t think my initial relationship with language was love as much as it was survival. After all the first challenge of immigration is to master the new tongue. It turned out to be quite a challenge indeed. I learned English because I had to and I guess writing was more or less (to quote Caliban) “my profit on’t.” Said another way, even after I learned English I never stopped obsessing on language. On whether I had learned English well enough and on the fact that my Spanish was fading. Writing was a way of working through my complicated thorny relationship with something I never had an easy relationship to. Some people love writing, throw themselves into it with eagerness.  But I’ve always approached my art reluctantly. It took me a long time before I finally realized that this was something I would not be able to avoid—that this was that most dreaded of covenants—a calling.

Can you talk about your connection to public libraries?

Díaz: I used to walk to my public library, which is exactly four miles from where I lived. I would walk there, read, get books and walk back. From London Terrace to Old Bridge Public Library. On the way there I would dream about the books I was reading. And on the way back I would dream about the books I was going to read. I would do this at least once a week. And when I think about what made me a reader (which always comes before writer, at least for me) I think about those long hikes through neighborhoods and farms, down long township roads. I think about my solitude and about how even now I can remember the weight of those books.

The Los Angeles Public Library strives to foster a love for books and lifelong learning in kids.  How do you think reading enhances our society?

Díaz: The free public library—both the institution itself and the ideals, which made it possible—is the granite plinth upon which our democratic society rests.  As libraries go so goes our democracy.

–Posted by Bridgette Bates

Fall Stops for The Library Store On Wheels!

The Library Store On Wheels is headed your way this fall!

Saturday 9/20 @ Artists & Fleas in Downtown LA 11am – 6pm

Sunday 9/21 @ Artists & Fleas in Downtown LA 11am – 6pm

Saturday 9/27 @ Fall Into Literacy Book Festival in the City of Wilmington 10am – 3pm

Sunday 10/5 @ CicLAvia at the Broadway Theatre District Hub 9am – 4pm

Wednesday 10/22 @ Lit Crawl LA: NoHo Round 1 and 3 (Stay tuned for details!)

For more updates, please follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

An Epic Quest Coming Soon: The L.A. Odyssey Project

Since the 8th century BCE, Homer’s haunting epic poem, The Odyssey, has spoken to audiences about what it means to struggle and endure as human beings. The Greek poem follows the hero Odysseus on his action-packed journey home after fighting in the ten-year Trojan War. As he encounters numerous obstacles along the way—from one-eyed giants to fantastical enchantresses—Odysseus’ wife Penelope assumes the leadership of his kingdom in his absence, warding off pressure from suitors eager to assume his wealth and power. Meanwhile, her son Telemachus sets off on his own voyage of (self) discovery to determine the fate of his father.

Almost every reader has some kinship with the archetypal characters and situations that The Odyssey represents, and this October, the Library Foundation of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Public Library invite readers across the city to rethink one of literature’s classic and heroic stories: The Odyssey. Throughout the month, the Foundation and Library will present The L.A. Odyssey Project, a month-long city-wide quest to consider what Homer’s epic tale of adventure and endurance means to Los Angeles readers today.

The L.A. Odyssey Project will journey into each of the neighborhoods of Los Angeles to explore the intimate connections between literature, history, science and the humanities to understand The Odyssey in the light of living in Southern California today. “The grand themes of The Odyssey can be retold for every generation because they provide cautionary tales and inspiration in the face of extreme adversity,” explains Rebecca Rickman, the Executive Producer of the project. “The difficulties—both physical and metaphysical—of reintegration which Odysseus encounters on the journey and with his family and his community upon his return to Ithaca—bear an uncanny resemblance to the problems facing our own troops coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. We saw this parallel as a golden opportunity to demonstrate how narrow the gap is between the ancient past and the present.”

The multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary project will feature a range of ways for audiences to experience the ancient text. From epic bicycle rides, to the re-imagining of a classical Greek vase by artist Peter Shire (pictured above and below) depicting the tale of Odysseus in L.A., to a special look at Homer-inspired films, The L.A. Odyssey Project will offer contemporary audiences the chance to draw their own conclusions about the relevance of Homer in their lives.

Librarians across 15 branches of the Los Angeles Public Library system will envision over 70 events for patrons of all ages. From building Greek vases (pictured throughout this post) with 3D printers to an odyssey through space with Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists, from reading clubs for all ages to Cyclops puppet shows, library patrons across the Southland will have the opportunity to engage with the story like never before.

“From Venice to Eagle Rock, San Pedro to Sylmar, our patrons and library staff had such a great time exploring Moby Dick together as a community last year, that we are thrilled to do the same with The Odyssey,” said City Librarian John F. Szabo. “As the cultural hub of our city, the Los Angeles Public Library is the ideal place to rediscover and rethink classic and influential pieces of literature.”

In honor of the oral tradition that allowed Homer to capture the story in writing, the project will culminate on Saturday, October 25 with a seven-hour marathon recitation of the poem by the public at the Central Library. Learn more about this reading, and all the other events upon which you can embark during October at lfla.org/odyssey and stay tuned on this blog for more details.

Looking Forward to Fall at ALOUD

September is right around the corner, and ALOUD will be back for its fall season to offer Angelenos the chance to engage with Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, MacArthur geniuses, international peace activists, groundbreaking filmmakers, and more. Here’s what you can look forward to this fall at the downtown historic Central Library with these 17 free public programs.

ALOUD kicks off with a bang on Tuesday, Sept. 9, as James Ellroy, one of America’s greatest living crime writers, sits down to discuss his newest novel, Perfidia. In conversation with Walter Kirn – author of his own recent riveting take on a Los Angeles cold case – Ellroy uncovers a corrupt Los Angeles of the 1940s.

On Monday, Sept. 15, naturalist Diane Ackerman discusses her optimistic new manifesto on the earth-shaking changes now affecting every part of our lives, and those of our fellow creatures, The Human Age: The World Shaped By Us. On Wednesday, Sept. 17, Kim Bancroft recounts the story of Heyday Books, a plucky small press with bid ideas, with founder Malcolm Margolin.

Pictured above, New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow and award-winning author Jesmyn Ward take the stage to discuss their memoirs of a South still clouded by a troubled past on Thursday, Sept. 25.

On Tuesday, Sept. 30, in partnership with Ambulante California, ALOUD welcomes filmmakers Lourdes Grobet and Julianna Brannum with excerpts of their new documentaries illuminating indigenous stories on film.  And on Tuesday, Oct. 21, in collaboration with the Consulate General of Poland, ALOUD presents Polish Solidarity activist Adam Michnik and Cairo-based journalist Yasmine El Rashidi for a conversation about revolutions both velvet and violent.

On Thursday, Oct. 16, Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times journalist Héctor Tobar provides an astounding account of the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped beneath thousands of feet of rock for a second-breaking 69 days.

In October, as part of The L.A. Odyssey Project, the Library Foundation’s month-long exploration of Homer’s epic poem, ALOUD presents: writers Zachary Mason (The Lost Books of the Odyssey) and Madeline Miller (The Song of Achilles) on Thursday, Oct. 2; and MacArthur Award-winning author David Finkel (Thank You for Your Service) and Professor Albert “Skip” Rizzo, Director for Medical Virtual Reality at USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies – who has pioneered the use of virtual reality-based exposure therapy to treat veterans suffering from PTSD – on Tuesday, Oct. 28.

On Thursday, Oct. 23, poets Robin Coste Lewis and Claudia Rankine read from their work and discuss how poetry can become an active tool for rethinking race in America. And on Thursday, Oct. 30, bestselling author Azar Nafisi (Reading Lolita in Tehran) ponders the role of fiction in 21st century America with her new book, The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books.

KCRW Bookworm Michael Silverblatt interviews the great Marilynne Robinson about Lila: A Novel on Wednesday, Nov. 5. And the next night, ALOUD heads west to the Writers Guild Theater for “An Evening with Colm Toibin and Rachel Kushner.” During the special offsite program, Toibin (Nora Webster) and Kushner (The Flamethrowers) will read and discuss how they create characters that erupt off the page in novels where the political and the personal are locked in a deep and fascinating embrace.  This event is ticketed.

On Wednesday, Nov. 12, Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore reveals “The Secret History of Wonder Woman,” with the riveting true story about the making of the most popular female superhero of all time, illustrating a crucial history of twentieth century feminism.

On Thursday, Nov. 13, bestselling author Sarah Thornton (Seven Days in the Art World) discusses her research – how she rummaged through artists’ bank accounts, bedrooms, and studios and witnessed their crises and triumphs – for her new book, 33 Artists in 3 Acts.

And closing out the season on Thursday, Nov. 20, Pulitzer Prize winner Jack Miles, writer Reza Aslan (Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth), and Rabbi Sharon Brous consider the comprehensive new Norton Anthology of World Religions and whether or not religion can really be defined.

The entire ALOUD Fall 2014 calendar is now available at www.lfla.org/aloud where you can make free reservations to attend September events. All October programs will open for public reservations on Friday, September 5th and November programs will open for public reservations on Friday, October 3rd. Members may reserve now for all fall season programs by using their Member-only link.

Top image: Jesmyn Ward (credit: Tony Cook) and Charles M. Blow (credit: Beowulf Sheehan)