This weekend, May 20th & 21st, Pasadena celebrates the literary arts with the 6th annual LitFest Pasadena. All the events and information about this free festival for all ages held throughout the Pasadena Playhouse District, can be found at the LitFest Pasadena website. In honor of LitFest Pasadena, the Central Library will host two events on Saturday, May 20: Flights of Fantasy Story Theatre’s “It’s All How You Look At It” at 11 am, and a crafts workshop from 3-5 pm presented by Reiyukai America.
Whet your appetite for LitFest with a few of the titles below, by some of the many authors who will be discussing their work, speaking on panels, and signing books.
Monster’s Chef by Jervey Tervalon
Once upon a time, Gibson was a successful chef with a popular restaurant and a beautiful loving wife. He was also a drug addict with a habit that nearly destroyed him.
Fresh out of rehab, he’s now using his skills to feed his fellow halfway house residents budget gourmet meals—a talent that attracts two shady women who offer him a job cooking for a music superstar named Monster. Though Gibson doesn’t have a good feeling about his seeming good fortune, he needs a job.
Arriving on Monster’s compound, Gibson senses that trouble is still on his tail. First, he’s asked to sign a confidentiality agreement. Then he meets the compound’s gardener, who warns him not to go outside at night—and tells him that to stay alive he must see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing.
It is advice that proves all too true when Gibson discovers a dead body near his bungalow a few nights later. Suddenly, all hell is breaking loose . . . and Gibson is at the center. Now he has to figure out how to escape this terrifying nightmare . . . and whether he can.
Sayonara Slam by Naomi Hirahara
Japan faces Korea in the World Baseball Classic at Dodger Stadium, and curmudgeonly gardener Mas Arai finds himself embroiled in a murder. A Japanese tabloid writer drops dead on the field, and Mas gave the victim his last drink. It turns out there’s more at stake than a baseball championship–international diplomacy depends upon uncovering secrets buried decades ago.
Naomi Hirahara is the Edgar Award winning and Anthony and Macavity Award nominated author of the Mas Arai mystery series, including Strawberry Yellow, Blood Hina, and Snakeskin Shamisen. She is also the author of the new series of Los Angeles-based Ellie Rush mysteries, published by Penguin.
Luis Rodriguez, Poet Laureate of Los Angeles and author of the award-winning and bestselling classic memoir Always Running, chronicles his harrowing journey from a drugged-out gang member to one of the most revered figures in Chicano literature.
Hundreds of thousands of readers came to know Luis J. Rodriguez through his fearless classic, Always Running, which chronicled his early life as a young Chicano gang member surviving the dangerous streets of East Los Angeles. The long-awaited follow-up, It Calls You Back is the equally harrowing story of Rodriguez starting over, at age eighteen, after leaving gang life—the only life he really knew.
The book opens with Rodriguez’s final stint in jail as a teenager and follows his struggle to kick heroin, renounce his former life, and search for meaningful work. He describes with heartbreaking honesty his challenges as a father, and his difficulty leaving his rages and addictions completely behind. Even as he breaks with “la vida loca” and begins to discover success as a writer and an activist, Rodriguez finds that his past—the crimes, the drugs, the things he’d seen and done—has a way of calling him back.
When his oldest son is sent to prison for attempted murder, Rodriguez is forced to confront his shortcomings as a father, and to acknowledge how and why his own history is repeating itself, right before his eyes.
Deeply insightful and beautifully written, It Calls You Back is an odyssey through love, addiction, revolutions, and healing.
Letters to Montgomery Clift by Noël Alumit
“I started my life in America and my search for my parents, well only my mother now – with Monty as my guide. The journey to find my mother would not be complete without him.” And so begins Letters to Montgomery Clift, a first novel by Noël Alumit; a coming of age story of Bong Bong Luwad, a Filipino boy, who enlists the spirit of 1950s screen idol Montgomery Clift to help him find his mother who is imprisoned in the Philippines under the Marcos regime.
After being sent to America by his mother, he is taught by his Aunt to write letters to saints and dead relatives to ask them for favors. As he watches the movie The Search, where Montgomery Clift helps a young boy find his mother, he starts to believe that Monty can do this for him. His letters begin and through time he starts to see visions of Monty himself.
As he reaches adolescence and his hopes of finding his mother diminish, Bong Bong begins to fall deeper into his fantasy world with Clift.
When eventually he travels back to his homeland and finds the whereabouts of his mother, he is able to bid a final farewell to Monty and begin his life anew back in the States with his family. Letters To Montgomery Clift is a novel of endurance and hope. It is a tale of growing up, coming out and going home.
Elizabeth the First Wife by Lian Dolan
Elizabeth Lancaster, an English professor at Pasadena City College, finds her perfectly dull but perfectly orchestrated life upended one summer by three men: her movie-star ex-husband, a charming political operative, and William Shakespeare. Until now, she’d been content living in the shadow of her high-profile and highly accomplished family. Then her college boyfriend and one-time husband of seventeen months, A-list action star FX Fahey, shows up with a job offer that she can’t resist, and Elizabeth’s life suddenly gets a whole lot more interesting. She’s off to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for the summer to make sure FX doesn’t humiliate himself in an avant-garde production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
As she did so skillfully with her first novel, Helen of Pasadena, which spent more than a year on the Los Angeles Times Bestseller List, Lian Dolan spins a lively, smart, and very funny tale of a woman reinventing her life in unexpected ways.
Pure Vegan: 70 Recipes for Beautiful Meals and Clean Living by Joseph Shuldiner
Pure Vegan proves that embracing a vegan lifestyle can be stylish and beautiful via 70 recipes that are both plant-based and indulgent. The only vegan cookbook that celebrates eating and enjoyment rather than emphasizing the politics of a vegan lifestyle, this beautiful compilation features novel, vivacious recipes. Yes, they’re non-meat-egg-dairy, and they’re fabulous! Pure ingredients and unique combinations appeal to meat lovers and committed vegans alike.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks are represented, and a special chapter is dedicated to late-night indulgences such as chocolate truffles and herbal cocktails. Seventy-five gorgeous pictures round out this fetching package.
The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi Durrow
Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and a black G.I., becomes the sole survivor of a family tragedy after a fateful morning on their Chicago rooftop.
Forced to move to a new city, with her strict African American grandmother as her guardian, Rachel is thrust for the first time into a mostly black community, where her light brown skin, blue eyes, and beauty bring a constant stream of attention her way. It’s there, as she grows up and tries to swallow her grief, that she comes to understand how the mystery and tragedy of her mother might be connected to her own uncertain identity.
This searing and heartwrenching portrait of a young biracial girl dealing with society’s ideas of race and class is the winner of the Bellwether Prize for best fiction manuscript addressing issues of social justice.