In Store

Friday, October 15 at 7:00PM pt

in conversation with J. Ryan Stradal

Shaky Town is a tough and beautiful mural of a novel constructed though interwoven short stories that explore the streets of East Los Angeles in the 1980s. 

Be prepared to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination and/or a recent negative test.

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In Shaky Town, Lou Mathews has written a timeless novel of working-class Los Angeles. A former mechanic and street racer, he tells his story in cool and panoramic style, weaving together the tragedies and glories of one of L.A.'s eastside neighborhoods. From a teenage girl caught in the middle of a gang war to a priest who has lost his faith and hit bottom, the characters in Shaky Town live on a dangerous faultline but remain unshakable in their connections to one another.


Like Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, John Steinbeck's Cannery Row, Katherine Ann Porter's Ship of Fools, Gloria Naylor's The Women of Brewster Place, and Pat Barker's Union Street, Shaky Town is the story of complicated, conflicted, and disparate characters bound together by place.

Review from the Chicago Tribune

Review from The Millions 

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Lou has written Just Like James and L.A. Breakdown, which was a Los Angeles Times Best Book, and Shaky Town. He has taught in UCLA Extension’s acclaimed creative writing program since 1989. His stories have been published in ZZZYVYA, New England Review, Short Story, Black Clock, and more than forty other literary magazines. His short stories are used in two textbook series Portales and Gotham Writer’s Workshop Fiction Gallery and have been widely anthologized, most recently in Paperback L.A.. Mathews worked his way through UC Santa Cruz as a gas station attendant and mechanic and continued working as a mechanic until he was 39, when he began to make a living as a free-lance journalist. He is also a playwright, notorious home cook and food writer, and was a restaurant reviewer for seven years and 43 pounds. He has received a Pushcart Prize, Two Pushcart Special Mentions and a Katherine Anne Porter Prize, as well as California Arts Commission and NEA Fiction fellowships, and is a recipient of the UCLA Extension Teacher of the Year and Outstanding Instructor awards.



in conversation

J. Ryan Stradal is the author of New York Times bestseller Kitchens of the Great Midwest and national bestseller The Lager Queen of Minnesota. His debut, Kitchens of the Great Midwest, has been translated into twelve languages, and also won the American Booksellers Association Indie's Choice Award for Adult Debut Book of the Year, the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association award for fiction, and the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award for debut fiction. The Lager Queen of Minnesota, his second novel, was an instant bestseller, won the 2020 WILLA award for the year's best contemporary fiction, and was a finalist for the 2020 Heartland Booksellers Award. His shorter writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among other places. Born and raised in Minnesota, he now lives in California with his family.