Live Talks Los Angeles

Video from a Live Talks Los Angeles event with Francine Prose discussing her book, Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932. The talk took place on May 15th, 2014 at the William Turner Gallery at Bergamot Arts Station in Santa Monica. For more information on Live Talks Los Angeles, visit: livetalksla.org

Francine Prose is the author of sixteen novels, including A Changed Man, winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and Blue Angel, a finalist for the National Book Award. Her most recent works of nonfiction include the highly acclaimed Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife, and the New York Times bestseller Reading Like a Writer. A former president of PEN American Center and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Prose is a highly regarded critic and essayist, and has taught literature and writing for more than twenty years at major universities. She is a distinguished writer in residence at Bard College, and she lives in New York City.

Francine Prose’s new novel, Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 is a richly imagined and stunningly inventive literary masterpiece of love, art, and betrayal, exploring the genesis of evil, the unforeseen consequences of love, and the ultimate unreliability of storytelling itself.

Paris in the 1920s shimmers with excitement, dissipation, and freedom. It is a place of intoxicating ambition, passion, art, and discontent, where louche jazz venues like the Chameleon Club draw expats, artists, libertines, and parvenus looking to indulge their true selves. It is at the Chameleon where the striking Lou Villars, an extraordinary athlete and scandalous cross-dressing lesbian, finds refuge among the club’s loyal denizens, including the rising Hungarian photographer Gabor Tsenyi, the socialite and art patron Baroness Lily de Rossignol; and the caustic American writer Lionel Maine.

As the years pass, their fortunes—and the world itself—evolve. Lou falls desperately in love and finds success as a race car driver. Gabor builds his reputation with startlingly vivid and imaginative photographs, including a haunting portrait of Lou and her lover, which will resonate through all their lives. As the exuberant twenties give way to darker times, Lou experiences another metamorphosis— sparked by tumultuous events—that will warp her earnest desire for love and approval into something far more.

MEGHAN DAUM has been an opinion columnist for The Los Angeles Times for more than eight years. She is the author of three books, the essay collection My Misspent Youth, the novel The Quality of Life Report, and the memoir Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House. She has written for numerous publications, including The New Yorker, Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, and Vogue and has contributed to public radio’s Morning Edition and This American Life. In 2013 she served as a mentor in PEN USA’s Emerging Voices program and she has taught at Cal-Arts and Columbia University. Her next book, a collection of original essays about sentimentality in American life, will be published this fall.

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