Book highlights for spring

David L. Ulin / Los Angeles Times /

Here are three books to which I’m especially looking forward: a preview of the writes of spring.

“The Flamethrowers” by Rachel Kushner (Scribner) April 2

Rachel Kushner’s first novel, “Telex From Cuba,” was a sensation: Set in the years before the Cuban revolution, it was a national bestseller and a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award. Her follow-up, “The Flamethrowers,” operates in the space between creativity and politics, the saga of an artist who travels from Lower Manhattan in the late 1970s to become immersed in the white-hot center of Italian radical politics. Kushner is a vivid storyteller, worth reading for her sentences alone. But even more, read her because of her ambition, her ability to push the novel beyond the personal and into an engagement with the larger world.

“Bough Down” by Karen Green (Siglio) April 30

This exquisite book is an impressionistic miracle, an assemblage of short text fragments and collages by an artist trying to make sense of her husband’s suicide. That this husband was David Foster Wallace is beautifully beside the point, for the focus here is on the experience, the bleak and necessary journey of grief. Green is a pointed writer, open and at a distance all at once. The effect is unsettling, elliptical, necessarily open-ended and at times brutally revealing: a necessary explication of loss as a fact of daily life.

“Never Built Los Angeles” by Sam Lubell and Greg Goldin (Metropolis) April 30

I can’t wait for this: an art book featuring more than 400 images that offer a vision of the city Los Angeles never became, in the form of nearly a century’s worth of plans, designs and layouts, including the Olmsted Brothers and Bartholomew’s “Plan for the Los Angeles Region,” a 1930 reimagining of the city as a whole. Edited by architectural journalists Sam Lubell and Greg Goldin, “Never Built Los Angeles” is also the source of an exhibition, curated by the editors, that will open this summer at the Architecture and Design Museum on Wilshire Boulevard.

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