An Evening of Noir at The Last Bookstore

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Carolyn Kellogg Reads Chandler

Five of the best local writers converged upon The Last Bookstore on Saturday evening to read selections from their favorite noir. The Last Bookstore, since its move to the corner of Fifth and Spring streets earlier this year, has established itself as a center for all things literary in Los Angeles. And judging by the size of Saturday's audience, readers are catching on to the bookstore's funky charm. Buzzing with energy and people, the event felt more like a rock concert than a reading.

Luckily, the authors did not disappoint. Los Angeles Times writer Carolyn Kellogg read from Raymond Chandler's forgotten Philip Marlowe masterpiece, The Little Sister, liberally taking swigs out of a flask in lieu of dramatic pauses. Her passage, a description of Marlowe's cynical musings during a night ride through Los Angeles, set a perfect tone for the evening.

Novelist Gary Phillips chose an LA noir classic, Double Indemnity. He read the first few pages, when insurance agent Walter meets the beautiful black widow housewife Phyllis, one of the deadliest "meet-cutes" in the history of noir.

Libros Schmibros founder David Kipen, with black cat and pipe in tow, ended the evening with a reading from a lesser known professor of the pulps, Richard Sale. Kipen chose to read one of this prolific writer's stories in its entirety (the author was known to write at least one a day), an entertaining potboiler about a snitch awaiting mob retribution. After the show, the audience was encouraged to take part in a downtown bar crawl, an ending sure to warm any noir aficionado's heart.