26 April 2010

Home again in Chinatown

shanghaigirls_coverBestselling author Lisa See will present her new novel, Shanghai Girls, at the Library, Wednesday, April 29 at 19h30. Today she shares an essay that originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times, about the relationship between Los Angeles's Chinatown and her book.

Almost all writers write about place. Los Angeles writers are no exception. Walter Mosley, Michael Jaime-Becerra and Janet Fitch, to name a few, capture the intimate details of very specific neighborhoods. Sometimes the sense of place is so strong that the natural topography, the streets and what's on them, become as fully realized as a living, breathing character. The neighborhood I write about is Chinatown. Yes, a lot of my novels take place in China, but those stories wouldn't -- couldn't -- have been written if not for Chinatown.

I lived with my mother, Carolyn See, when I was growing up. We moved eight times before I turned 9, so Chinatown, where my paternal grandparents and my grandfather's brothers and sister worked in the family antiques store, became home base for me. To my eyes, Chinatown didn't change. More than that, my Chinese American relatives didn't move or change either. Rather, they were very much stuck in the past. It was a past that entranced me when I was a child; it's a past I long for every day, and one I got to write about in "Shanghai Girls."

25 April 2010

Great moments in art

Really, really bad cover art for science fiction books, lovingly collected for your perusal, admiration, and ridicule.
25 April 2010

The peculiar generation

Those Americans born from the late 1930s to the mid-1940s, the pre-Boomers, have never had a “generation” to call their own. Richard Pells mourns this oversight […]
24 April 2010

Curious George: The war years

“It feels ridiculous to be thinking about children’s books.” wrote Hans A. Rey, co-creator of Curious George, in September 1939. He and his wife and co-author […]