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Arts and Entertainment

Janet Fitch Tonight at Skylight Books

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The Santa Anas blew in hot from the desert, shriveling the last of the spring grass into whiskers of pale straw. Only the oleanders thrived, their delicate poisonous blooms, their dagger green leaves. We could not sleep in the hot dry nights, my mother and I. I woke up at midnight to find her bed empty. I climbed to the roof and easily spotted her blond hair like a white flame in the light of the three-quarter moon. "Oleander time," she said. "Lovers who kill each other now will blame it on the wind." She held up her large hand and spread the fingers, let the wind trace itself through. My mother was not herself in the time of the Santa Anas. I was twelve years old and I was afraid for her. I wished things were back the way they had been, that Barry was here, that the wind would stop blowing. - White Oleander

It sucks that Oprah's Book Club sometimes finds really excellent books, but what can you do? Janet Fitch's "White Oleander" wasn't just going to sit in the corner and not completely blossom into the best-seller -- Oprah's blessing or not.In what was probably the most beautifully written novel set in LA in the last ten years, if you had the bad luck to see the film, you are missing out on 90% of the story -- which is how it's told.

It's almost as if she took her time with every word, and then every sentence.

Weird to get an actual professional to lay down some art in a professional manner.

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Tonight in Los Feliz, Janet will be reading from her new novel "Paint it Black" -- which we don't know anything about and don't want to. We just want to go to the reading at 7:30p, beam at Ms. Fitch, have her sign the new book, and then read it non stop, just like we did with her debut.

A little more from "White Oleander" after the jump:

Barry. When he appeared, he was so small. Smaller than a comma, insignificant as a cough. Someone she met at a poetry reading. It was at a wine garden in Venice. As always when she read, my mother wore white, and her hair was the color of new snow against her lightly tanned skin. She stood in the shade of a massive fig tree, its leaves like hands. I sat at the table behind stacks of books I was supposed to sell after the reading, slim books published by the Blue Shoe Press of Austin, Texas. I drew the hands of the tree and the way bees swarmed over the fallen figs, eating the sun-fermented fruit and getting drunk, trying to fly and falling back down. Her voice made me drunk; deep and sun-warmed, a hint of a foreign accent, Swedish singsong a generation removed.

Skylight Books is at 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz, (323) 660-1175

photo by redsea2006 via flickr