Tara Ison has a new book, and you can get it HERE.


Reeling Through Life: How I Learned to Live, Love, and Die at the Movies looks at how film shapes identity. Through ten cleverly constructed essays, Ison explores how a lifetime of movie-watching has, for better or worse, taught her how to navigate the world and how to grapple with issues of career, family, faith, illness, sex, and love.

Cinema is a universal cultural experience, one that floods our senses with images and sounds, a powerful force that influences our perspective on the world around us. Ison discusses the universal aspects of film as she makes them personal, looking at how certain films across time shaped and molded who she has become. Drawing on a wide ranging catalog of films, both cult and classic, popular and art-house, Reeling Through Life examines how cinema shapes our views on how to make love, how to deal with mental illness, how to be Jewish, how to be a woman, how to be a drunk, and how to die with style.

Rather than being a means of escape or object of mere entertainment, Ison posits that cinema is a more engaging form of art, a way to slip into other identities and inhabit other realities. A way to orient oneself into the world. Reeling Though Life is a compelling look at one popular art form and how it has influenced our identities in provocative and important ways.

Mark Smith’s brilliant novel, The Death of the Detective, is coming soon from Brash Books

Peter Clothier at Huff Post on William Luvaas’s story collection, Ashes Rain Down

“[W]e are too easily distracted by popular culture, sensationalism, and the melee of social media from powerfully thoughtful voices like William Luvaas’, whose wildly creative cautionary tale is so relevant, so urgent, and so timely, and whose literary spunk and sparkle should assure it a place on everyone’s bestseller list.” Read the full review HERE.

Douglas Bauer’s essays win the Pen-New England Award for Literary Excellence in Nonfiction

What Happens Next

What is life about but the continuous posing of the questions: what happens next, and what do we make of it when it arrives? In these highly evocative personal essays, Douglas Bauer weaves together the stories of his own and his parents’ lives, the meals they ate, the work and rewards and regrets that defined them, and the inevitable betrayal by their bodies as they aged.

His collection features at its center a long and memory-rich piece seasoned with sensory descriptions of the midday dinners his mother cooked for her farmer husband and father-in-law every noon for many years. It’s this memoir in miniature that sets the table for the other stories that surround it—of love and bitterness, of hungers served and denied. Good food and marvelous meals would take on other revelatory meanings for Bauer as a young man, when he met, became lifelong friends with, and was tutored in the pleasures of an appetite for life by M. F. K. Fisher, the century’s finest writer in English on “the art of eating,” to borrow one of her titles.

The unavoidable companion of the sensual joys of food and friendship is the fragility and ultimately the mortality of the body. As a teenager, Bauer courted sports injuries to impress others, sometimes with his toughness and other times with his vulnerability. And as happens to all of us, eventually his body began to show the common signs of wear—cataracts, an irregular heartbeat, an arthritic knee. That these events might mark the arc of his life became clear when his mother, a few months shy of eighty-seven, slipped on some ice and injured herself.

In these clear-eyed, wry and graceful essays, Douglas Bauer presents with candor and humor the dual calendars of his own mortality and that of his aging parents, evoking the regrets and affirmations inherent in being human.

You can read about the award HERE and pick up your copy HERE.

New Sternburg piece at Times Quotidian


On the Occasion of ‘Agnès Varda in Californialand’, LACMA November 3, 2013 – June 22, 2014 —

‘Grand Dame of the French New Wave’
‘Grandmother of the New Wave’
‘Mother of the French New Wave movement’

This is what happens to the woman artist at a certain age —
She no longer is. She represents. Not herself. But what she has supposedly brought into being.
Her progeny.
I mean. Really!

Varda’s no grandmother, she’s no great lady . . .
She’s alive and well at Agnès in Californialand, an installation in which she is all ages.

Read it all HERE

Wagman novel now available on audio


Listen to it HERE

Winnie Parker, mother to an angst-ridden teenage daughter and ex-wife to a successful game show host who left her for a twenty-something contestant, begins a normal day in her hum-drum existence by dropping her car off at the repair shop. After accepting what she believes is a ride to pick up her rental car, Winnie realizes too late that she’s been kidnapped.

What follows is a riveting psychological game of cat and mouse set in the kidnapper’s tropically heated house – kept that way for Cookie, a menacing seven-foot long Iguana headquartered in the kitchen. While desperately seeking to escape – which leads to several violent clashes with her increasingly unstable kidnapper – Winnie also tries to understand why she was taken captive. Is her kidnapper merely seeking a ransom or does he have something more sinister in mind? Does he know that Winnie’s mother is an Oscar-winning actress? Or did he connect her with Jonathan, her famous ex-husband?

When the truth reveals itself, Winnie is not only forced to fight for her life, but must also protect the lives of those she loves from the kidnapper’s deranged master plan. An engrossing, darkly humorous, edge-of-your-seat story, The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets explores the dynamic between kidnapper and kidnapped, bizarre reptile lore, and the absurdity of the celebrity lifestyle.

Words with Writers Interview with Duff Brenna

Where and when do you prefer to write?

Mornings are best. I’m fresher and the cares of the day haven’t yet distracted me. I have a room in my house that is devoted exclusively to reading and writing. After decades of doing this, I’m very disciplined.

Read it all HERE

Tara Ison’s new novel Rockaway named Best of the Rest


Take a look HERE

“In Ison’s poetic depiction, Rockaway is equal parts tourist trap and salt-sprayed idyll, where beachgoers frolic in the shadow of some potent dramatic irony: the reader’s awareness of the devastation soon to arrive across the river makes for an unsettling countdown…Ison possesses a surfeit of wit and an especial knack for upending love story conventions…as the narrative swirls to a stylish and startling end.” —The New York Times Book Review

“In Rockaway‘s narrative passages Ms. Ison’s prose style is lovely and in places lyrical…[Sarah] is an engagingly complex character readers will hope to see more of..” —New York Journal of Books

“How tragic that this book —set in a Queens, New York, beach town that in real life was devastated by Sandy —has a new relevance. Sarah is a California painter who’s come east for a retreat she hopes will revive her artistic passion. It’s a sheer joy to stay in the company of Ison’s voice. There’s an unlikely relationship at the center, the kind of encounter that could happen only in the summertime suspension of ‘ordinary’ life.” —Karen Russell, O Magazine

“Tara Ison is one of the premiere stylists of her generation, and on every page of Rockaway she writes sentences that are elegant and rich. Casually sensual in ways that will curl your toes, Ison refuses to look away from the ramifications of that same dark eroticism unleashed. It’s no exaggeration to say Rockaway is pretty much perfect — a meditation on art, aloneness, ambition, love, religion, and the unknowable and unquenchable thirst that is human desire. Just start reading. You won’t stop.” —Charles Bock

“Here is a young woman at the end of her leash, the end of her youth, the edge of her art, not doing a melancholy artist-on-the-beach thing, but confronting the many true colors of her life in this beautiful and dangerous season. Tara Ison’s Rockaway is a stirring, fresh look at a tough passage.” —Ron Carlson

Rockaway is an illuminating inquiry into the nature of love, the meaning of art, the power of faith and family, and how grace is discovered in the most unexpected places —a stunning, modern echo of Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse with a uniquely brilliant voice.” —Emily Rapp

Rockaway is a novel that embraces everything: love, art, friendship, faith, and the mystery of why we create the lives we do, with prose that is breathtaking, clear, and elegant. Sarah and Marty and Emily are depicted with honesty that is utterly riveting. This is a beautiful gem of a book.” —Karen E. Bender

“Written in language that is utterly liquid, Rockaway inhabits the poetry of a woman fiercely searching for identity. Here, we find an illuminating meditation on the art of being, with the true revelation suggesting that perhaps we were never lost at all. A triumphant reclamation of the soul.” —Ilie Ruby

Essays by Douglas Bauer from University of Iowa Press


Take a look at it HERE

“These are some of the finest, if not the finest, personal essays I have ever read. With exacting and exquisite prose, Douglas Bauer achieves the truly remarkable here: he plumbs the heart of his midwestern family with brave and naked fairness, rendering his own mortality with a steadfastly clear-eyed and life-loving attention to all that is essential, our shared human frailty and resilience and those tangled but lasting ties that bind. What Happens Next? Matters of Life and Death is a masterful, soul-nourishing work, and I simply cannot recommend it highly enough.”—Andre Dubus III, author of Townie: A Memoir

“This remarkable memoir-in-essays respects time but is not enslaved to it. Bauer moves in circular fashion among incidents that foreshadow later ones and recall earlier. It’s not a linear but a spiral history, which touches us and then touches again. As for the language: in each sentence each word seems the only possible choice. How easily the prose lets us read it; what artistic intensity made it that way.”—Edith Pearlman, author, Binocular Vision, winner of the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award

“A routine medical procedure is the starting point of this beautiful and original book of essays in which Douglas Bauer threads the story of his physical self in and out of the remembered and reconstructed past. The result is a gorgeous meditation on history, mortality, and love.”—Ann Packer, author, Swim Back to Me

“In What Happens Next? Doug Bauer circles his own life, that of the farm boy who discovers cities, and those of his parents who didn’t, with piercing intelligence and lucidity. Whether he’s describing snow in Iowa or oysters in New Orleans, Bauer is a master of the telling detail. This is a beautiful book about mortal matters and the great lessons of time that are written on the body.”—Margot Livesey, author, The Flight of Gemma Hardy

“Douglas Bauer’s prose is as bracing as clear, cold water, its depths stunningly visible from the surface. What Happens Next? is a work of extraordinary empathy and great art.”—Bernard Cooper

New Story and an Interview from Meredith Sue Willis

  • Meredith Sue Willis has a new story in the Winter 2014 issue of Persimmon Tree.   It’s an updated version of “Little Red Riding Hood” called “Feral Grandmothers: Little Red’s”

Luvaas collection named Book Of The Year at HuffPost

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“While comparisons to Cormac McCarthy’s powerful The Road novel seem inevitable, William Luvaas’ brilliant new collection of short stories, Ashes Rain Down: A Story Cycle, is a wildly inventive and epic comedy of prophetic visions, and a masterpiece of fiction for our own modern times.”

Read the whole rave HERE

William Luvaas Upcoming Appearances

Bill will be reading and signing copies of his new story collection, ASHES RAIN DOWN: A Story Cycle, at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center on Friday, April 19, 2013 at 8:00 p.m. 681 Venice Blvd., Venice, CA. He’ll be reading with our friend, novelist David Rocklin, author of The Luminist.

Also, in the Bay Area:

Heyday Books: April 24, 6:30 p.m., Heyday Books, 1633 University Ave., Berkeley

San Francisco Main Library:  April 23, 6:30-7:30 p.m., 100 Larkin St., San Francisco

Book Passage: April 25, 7:00 p.m., Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Core Madera, CA

A New Story Collection from William Luvaas


Take a look at it here:

Ashes Rain Down, A Story Cycle by William Luvaas

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