Monday, March 30, 2009

Looking Back at Edward S. Curtis

The Library was a great place to be last week, as we took the time to look back at Edward S. Curtis, the real life man who inspired Marianne Wiggins' The Shadow Catcher. On Tuesday evening, April 24th, an appreciative crowd joined us for a screening of In the Land of the War Canoes, a film about the Kwakiutl tribe of Vancouver Island, shot and released by Edward S. Curtis himself in 1914. Originally titled In the Land of the Head Hunters, the film was a combination of documentary and dramatic film, tying the narrative story of a young Kwakiutl tribesman who must battle an old medicine man to win back his bride to authentic documentary footage of Kwakiutl tribal customs and ceremonies. The film has since been added to the United States' National Film Registry, and is considered a first of its kind. If you were not able to join us for the screening, you can always check out the DVD at the library.

On Saturday, April 28th, we invited Curtis expert and scholar, Bruce Kapson, to the Library for an informative lecture that provided a wealth of background information on the legendary photographer. Audience members, many of whom had read the book, asked lots of questions about the real life man who inspired Marianne Wiggins' fictional characterization. Mr. Kapson brought along a stunning collection of vintage photographs, prints and original copper plate negatives for audience members to look at following his lecture. If you are interested in finding out more about Edward S. Curtis, Mr. Kapson assures us he would welcome visitors to his website,, where you can learn more.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Marianne Wiggins visits the Library

On Saturday, Marianne Wiggins visited the Main Library for a reading, discussion, and book signing. Her warmth and sense of humor charmed the crowd.

Some highlights from her talk:

If she had "hung the manuscript out to dry" for a year after she wrote it, she probably wouldn't have done the Curtis Edwards - Edward Curtis device. She said it was just her being a smarty-pants.

Wiggins couldn't get permission for some photos - such as Curtis as an old man and Clara. That's why she had to use the "found" photos.

She designed the book as well as wrote it. She worked hard on the layout and the photos.

Since she has been living in LA, she's been told that her writing has gotten a shot of adrenaline. She currently is working on a novel about the California Water Wars.

LA Writers Discuss Los Angeles Literature

On Sunday, Los Angeles Times book editor David Ulin hosted a discussion about Los Angeles Literature. The audience enjoyed listening to the authors discuss living in and writing about LA. Panelists Cecil Castellucci, Gary Phillips, and Nina Revoyr each had their unique take on the city. All expressed their appreciation for Marianne Wiggins' distinctive novel.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Call-In Discussion

Can't make any of our Citywide Reads discussions? No problem! Just tune into CityTV cable channel 16 on Wednesday, March 25 at 7:00 p.m. for a live, moderated discussion. Viewers can call in with questions or comments about Marianne Wiggins' The Shadow Catcher. The number to call is 310-458-4950.

In addition, you can email questions ahead to or post a comment below.

Share your insights on this unconventional and compelling novel with host Beverly Gray, and special guests Max Diamond and Director of The California Center for the Book, Mary Menzel.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

'Los Angeles as Literature' Panel Discussion

Join us in the Main Library's MLK Jr. Auditorium on Sunday, March 22 at 2:00 p.m. for the program
Los Angeles as Literature.

Los Angeles Times book editor David Ulin moderates this panel discussion about Los Angeles’ various incarnations in literature. Learn of Citywide Reads author Marianne Wiggins’ place in the canon of fiction about Los Angeles. Panelists include young adult writer and author of Beige Cecil Castellucci; author of the Ivan Monk mystery series Gary Phillips; and Nina Revoyr, novelist and author of The Age of Dreaming.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

An Afternoon with Marianne Wiggins

This Saturday, March 21, 2009 at 2:00 p.m., the Santa Monica Public Library is pleased to present a very special author talk with this year's Santa Monica Citywide Reads featured author, Marianne Wiggins. The talk, followed by a book sale and signing, will be held in the Main Library's Martin Luther King, Jr. Auditorium, at 601 Santa Monica Blvd. Tickets for Auditorium seating will be released one hour prior to program.

In addition to "The Shadow Catcher," Marianne Wiggins is the author eight other novels and short story collections including the award-winning "John Dollar" and the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist, "Evidence of Things Unseen."

This year's event is sure to be a great one. We hope to see you there.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

City Employee Discussion

We had our first Citywide Reads discussion for City Employees last Wednesday during lunch. Twenty-six people, across numerous departments, met for a terrific discussion of The Shadow Catcher. We enjoyed it so much that we're thinking about starting a regular City Employee book group!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Want to See the Real Curtis?

The following was contributed by a volunteer book discussion leader. As previously mentioned, our group of volunteers this year is fantastic! Check them out for yourself at one of our upcoming discussions:
Monday, March 9 at 2:00 pm, Emeritus College, 1227 2nd Street, Room 407
Saturday, March 14 at 10:30 am, Cafe Bolivar, 1741 Ocean Park Blvd (free street parking on Saturdays)

From Kristin:

After reading The Shadow Catcher, and the supplementary book about Edward S. Curtis (Shadow Catcher, The Life and Work of Edward S. Curtis by Laurie Lawlor) which was provided to me as a discussion volunteer, I was more intrigued about the photographer than the author. In my opinion, Wiggins told us plenty about the "fictional" Wiggins in the pages between the Clara and Edward story line. While Wiggins includes a few images of Curtis's work in the book, and a quick Google of Curtis will bring plenty more images of his photos right to your browser, I wanted more after reading all about him and being taken in not only by his photography, but also the controversy behind his work and his person. I wanted to see the actual images. Like Ansel Adams whose work, even in reproduction, never ceases to stop me in my tracks, details of photos taken when photography was in its pioneer days fascinates me much more than today's digital photography. Fortunately, I found out a few of Curtis's works and other events focused on him are just a hop, skip and a jump away from us.

The Getty Center has three Curtis' images in its collection. Unfortunately, these treasures are viewable by appointment only -- but it is easy to do! You can make an appointment (no fee!) to view the pieces by calling Paul Martineau at 310-440-7046.

You can see, by appointment, the complete collection of Curtis' 20-volume set at the Braun Research Library at the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Library system also has a copy of the volumes in its reference collection, and a presentation of resources on Edward S. Curtis and his work will be given on Thursday, March 12, from 12:15 - 1:00 pm by Eileen King, another Citywide Reads volunteer book discussion.

As part of the UCLA Film & Television Archive's 14th Festival of Preservation Curtis's film In the Land of the Head Hunters will be showing at the Billy Wilder Theater of the Hammer Museum on Saturday, April 26 at 7:00 pm.

Visit to experience the real Curtis', or at least the real pieces of his work ... getting to know and understand the man behind the work is another story -- one that we might have a glimpse into thanks to Wiggins.