An LA novel-in-stories each season, along with selected short fiction from exceptional authors, both new and established, whose works take place at the shifting borders of the American Dream. Each season, host Alan Rifkin presents an original novel in twelve episodes. Separately, the episodes stand alone, but together they comprise a novel-length journey, with a cast of recurring characters.
S1 E18 - Dina Villegas Reads and Discusses "The 100 Melodies of Dan Van"
In this Season 1 finale, Dina Villegas reads and discusses her graceful, arresting, uplifting and disturbing ballad of ambition and imperfection, “The 100 Melodies of Dan Van,” which she developed in a lower-division fiction workshop at California State University, Long Beach. A first-year student majoring in Political Science, Villegas is currently at work on a magical-realist fantasy series she has envisioned since childhood. She calls herself an undercover anthropologist, watches people from afar, and enjoys writing stories that she insists no one will ever read.
S1 E17 - Catherine Hein Reads and Discusses THE CELEBRITY
Catherine Hein's former life took her from 20 years in the entertainment industry to two years in a homeless women's shelter. That's where Wanda Fleming--the tenacious, calamity-prone TV co-host fatale of Hein's historical novel, THE CELEBRITY--was born. Called to her grandmother's funeral in the spring of 1962, the novel's heroine must face life without her closest ally, settle on one lover, conquer her eating disorder, and ace a round of Password in order to secure a coveted game-show gig—if the world doesn't change too much first. Hein's other writing credits include The Bob Newhart Show and a children's story series in The Los Angeles Times about a traveling circus in occupied France. She holds a master’s degree in English and an MFA in Fiction from California State University, Long Beach.
S1 E16 - Joe Donnelly Reads and Discusses "Bonus Baby"
As baseball season takes hold, award-winning journalist, writer and editor Joe Donnelly reads his short story “Bonus Baby,” which was selected for the O. Henry Prize Stories collection of 2016. Donnelly’s features, fiction and essays have appeared in such publications as the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, LA Weekly, Mother Jones, The Surfer’s Journal, The Washington Post, and The Times of London, as well as in numerous nonfiction and fiction print anthologies. His story “50 Minutes,” written with Harry Shannon, was selected for The Best American Mystery Stories 2012 and is the basis of a short film being directed by Paul Schneider. A 2014 finalist for the Pen Center USA Literary Award in Journalism, Donnelly serves as Visiting Assistant Professor of English and Journalism at Whittier College and edits Red Canary Magazine. His latest collection, So Cal: Dispatches from the End of the World, was recently released by Punk Hostage Press. Learn more about him at www.joedonnellywrites.com
S1 E15 - Rich Ferguson Reads "The Los Angeles Book of the Dead" and Other Works
State of California Beat Poet Laureate and novelist Rich Ferguson shares a playlist of his unique and prophetic LA works, each set to music and largely recorded during the Covid lockdown months of 2020-21. A winner in Opium Magazine’s Literary Death Match L.A., Ferguson has shared the stage with such poets and musicians as Patti Smith, Wanda Coleman, and Moby; was a featured performer in the film, What About Me? featuring Michael Stipe, Michael Franti, and k.d. lang; and is the author of 8th& Agony , the novel New Jersey Me , and his latest poetry collection, Everything Is Radiant Between the Hates, released by Moon Tide Press.
S1 E14 - Meg Pokrass Reads and Discusses “Cash Register Tape” and “Her Own Music”
Flash fiction author and editor Meg Pokrass presents a Los Angeles trilogy titled "Her Own Music" and a standalone story, "Cash Register Tape," set in the San Fernando Valley, then chats with host Alan Rifkin about low points that promise everything. Pokrass's work is featured in three Norton Anthologies of the flash fiction form, and her work was recently selected for The Best Small Fictions 2022.
S1 E13 - Charlie Haas Reads and Discusses SUNLAND
Novelist (THE ENTHUSIAST), screenwriter (OVER THE EDGE, TEX, GREMLINS 2, MATINEE), and feature writer (ESQUIRE, NEW YORKER, NEW WEST) Charlie Haas presents a sneak preview of his new novel, SUNLAND--about a German family who join a community of bohemians, poets, and artists to live on the land outside 1914 Los Angeles--then chats with host Alan Rifkin about dreams that succeed by failing.
Transcendent evocation of LA in the late ‘80s and 90s
Beautifully written account of a journalist’s struggles in the Los Angeles of the late ‘80s and ‘90s. The writing is superb and brings you instantly into the city at that time — the strange characters, the landscape, the odd synchronicity of life. Highly recommend.