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Annual Fall Book Review
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Annual Fall Book Review 

John Brewer, Along the Malibu: Color Serigraphs and Art of Paul Dubosclard: A Catalogue Raisonné. This monograph on Topanga artist Paul Duboclard is our top pick for a Topanga-themed holiday gift this season. Author John Brewer first discovered Dubosclard’s remarkable serigraphs while searching for a Christmas present for his brother in 2021. “The search…led me to beautiful and interesting old postcards documenting the beach areas of Southern California, our childhood stomping grounds,” Brewer writes. “One card caught my eye, The Cannon, a serigraph postcard published by M. A. Sheehan of Topanga Canyon. That one led to another, each card new and interesting and beautiful. At that point I began to recognize a talented artist and a mystery. Who was P. Dubosclard? Who was M. A. Sheehan? And how does this all relate to the World Wars, military aircraft, the scientist Linus Pauling, and beatniks?” Brewer’s extensive research and detective work has revealed the life and life work of a forgotten artist.The book is available for $25 from the Topanga Historical society website—a portion of sales goes to support THS, topangahistoricalsociety.org. It can also be purchased at Topanga Homegrown, www.topangahomegrown.net

Lee Goldberg, Malibu Burning. This thriller is an uncomfortable read for survivors of the Woolsey fire, but it is a fast-paced and compelling read. Goldberg revisits the fictional wildfire her wrote about in his 2020 novel Lost Hills, to tell a different story, this time about arson, revenge, and a crazy high-stakes con game. It’s a fun read, but one with an uncomfortably terrifying setting for those of us with fire-related PTSD. 

There is another recent book with the title Malibu Burning: Robert Kerbeck, Malibu Burning: The Real Story Behind LA’s Most Devastating Wildfire, published in 2019. This award-winning look at the 2018 Woolsey Fire isn’t fiction, but it is even more compelling than Goldberg’s thriller, because this is the real story of the biggest wildfire disaster in Los Angeles County’s history. 2023 marks the fifth anniversary of the Woolsey Fire, and this book is essential reading for anyone who experienced the impact of that disaster.

Chuck Graham, Paddling into a Natural Balance, Stories of Kayaking and Conservation around Channel Islands National Park. Anyone who commutes on Pacific Coast Highway or regularly hikes or drives the top of the Santa Monica Mountains is familiar with the Channel Islands, floating like a mirage on the horizon, but many of us have never been to this huge but surprisingly remote national park. Nature photographer Chuck Graham has spent years out there photographing every aspect of the islands and the ocean surrounding them. He took his first kayaking trip to the California Channel Islands in 1999. He writes that he didn’t foresee a book about his kayaking trips melding into conservation success stories around the Channel Islands National Park, but it did. “In  February 2021, after getting great looks and photographing bald eagle A-03 from my kayak and the sheer cliffs surrounding Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz Island, that keystone species inspired me to move forward with what has become Paddling into a Natural Balance, Stories of Kayaking and Conservation around Channel Islands National Park. This beautiful book features 170 photographs, many of them shot on old-school slide film. Visit chuckgrahamphoto.com to learn more about the author, or email info@chuckgrahamphoto.com to inquire about ordering.

Obi Kaufman, The Deserts of California: A California Field Atlas (the California Lands Trilogy, volume III). Artist and ecologist Obi Kaufman completed his magnificent California Lands trilogy this October, with his volume on California deserts. It joins the first two books in the trio: The Coasts of California and The Forests of California. These beautifully illustrated and information-packed volumes make a gorgeous gift for anyone who loves nature and California’s history. Visit the author’s website to learn more: coyoteandthunder.com

Coco Mary, Our Young Lady of Paris. Coco Mary is the pen name of Topanga resident Coco Blignaut. Our Young Lady of Paris is the latest in her series of children’s books illustrated with her original, vibrant photo collages. This book follows Agnes Fleury, “a 16-year old Parisian girl with a brilliant mathematical and mystical mind,” on an important day in Paris. She is accompanied in her imagination by her best friends, the spirits of rockstar, Jim Morrison, and archangel Michael.”

“Paris is a city that knows how to fill an empty heart. And if you are open to the unseen, amazing things can happen.” Our Young Lady of Paris is filled with eye-popping scenes in Paris, and the story is punctuated with French words and expressions, as well as mystical and mathematical symbolism, giving us an authentic sense of her unusual world. Available on Amazon or directly from the author’s website: flowerchildbooks.world

Kenneth Miller, Mapping the Darkness: The Visionary Scientists Who Unlock the Mysteries of Sleep. This isn’t a light read, but it is a fascinating one. Topanga resident Kenneth Miller is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in Time, Life, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, Discover, Aeon, and many other publications. His book Mapping the Darkness: The Visionary Scientists Who Unlocked the Mysteries of Sleep, examines the work of four scientists who have pioneered the field of sleep science, and takes a deep dive into the human brain for a look at how and why we sleep, and how modern life and maladies interfere with sleep. This is a thoughtful and insightful book that sheds light on one of the most essential and still poorly understood elements of human existence. Learn more at the publisher’s website: www.hachettebookgroup.com, or visit the author’s website: www.kennethmiller.net

Jennie Morton reached out to Topanga New Times to let our readers know that her 2015 book, The Authentic Performer: Wearing a Mask and the Effect on Health, is now available as an ebook. Mask in this case is a metaphor for how performers hide their authentic selves in order to perform, and how these “masks” can become a barrier to health and healing. 

“This issue is particularly pertinent to the author, who posits that the ‘wearing of a mask’ is inherent in many performers and is sometimes seen to be a prerequisite of many performing arts professions. Morton, an osteopath, writes that she “wanted to explore this connection further and have therefore delved into the medical, psychological and philosophical literature to discover the underlying physiological and biological mechanisms at play.” Visit the author’s website to learn more: www.jenniemorton.com

Zev Yaroslavsky and Josh Getlin, Zev’s Los Angeles: From Boyle Heights to the Halls of Power. A Political Memoir. During his years on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Zev Yaroslavsky became a passionate advocate for open space in the Santa Monica Mountains and a good friend to Topanga, who helped find county funding for programs and projects that have improved the quality of life and safety for residents. 

Zev’s autobiography offers a fascinating look at the inner workings of Los Angeles politics, but also provides insight into the author, a rare politician who has always retained his innate humility and humanity. Learn more at www.academicstudiespress.com/cherry-orchard-books

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