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In a series of meditative essays, the award-winning writer Richard Rodriguez turns his perceptive gaze to the desert– in both the physical and spiritual sense– in a quest to understand his relationship to the “desert God” and to terrorists who kill in the name of that same God. He delves into what it means to be a gay, devout, Roman Catholic in his 60s — attempting to make sense of a world and a religion that have both rejected him at times. His peregrinations take him beyond the Middle East—to San Francisco, Paris, Las Vegas and Malibu. He writes about the rise of atheism in America after 9/11, the modern evasion of place, and the uses of doubt for religious believers.


Richard Rodriguez

Richard Rodriguez is a journalist, essayist, and contributor to Harper’s Magazine, Mother Jones, the Los Angeles Times, and Time. He is the author of Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez; Days of Obligation: An Argument with My Mexican Father, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Brown: The Last Discovery of America, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. For many years he was an essayist on PBS’s MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour. He is currently a contributing writer and editor for New American Media, a nonprofit news network.


Rubén Martínez

Rubén Martínez, an Emmy-winning journalist and poet, is the author of several books, including Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail and The New Americans. His most recent book is Desert America: Boom and Bust in the New Old West. He holds the Fletcher Jones Chair in Literature and Writing at Loyola Marymount University.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the reservation policy for ALOUD?

    As most ALOUD at Central Library programs are free of charge, it is our policy to overbook. In the case of a FULL program your free reservation may not guarantee admission. We recommend arriving early. Space permitting, unclaimed reservations will be released to standby patrons at 7 PM.

  • Why do programs fill so quickly?

    ALOUD provides a unique experience for the public to engage with scholars, authors, and artists in the intimate 235-seat Mark Taper Auditorium. Library Foundation Members have the benefit of reserving for programs in advance of the public. Consider joining as a Member to receive this benefit, and check the website on an on-going basis for program availability. Be sure to subscribe to our email alerts, and visit our Media Archive for podcasts and other items from our recent programs.

  • Where does ALOUD take place?

    Unless otherwise noted, ALOUD programs are held at the downtown Central Library’s Mark Taper Auditorium.

  • Where should I park for ALOUD programs?

    We recommend taking public transportation. Parking for the Central Library is at the Westlawn Garage at 524 S. Flower Street. For more information, visit the Library’s website.

  • Should I purchase the author’s book in advance?

    We encourage you to purchase books from the Library Store. All proceeds benefit the Los Angeles Public Library. Books are made available for purchase when you reserve for a program online, and are also on sale at programs. In order to participate in the book signing, you must purchase at least one book from The Library Store. Members receive discounts on purchases.

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