James Ellroy's novels inhabit a nostalgic zone, where women are dames and cops throw back whiskey to take the edge off after a day at a grisly crime scene. His "L.A. Quartet"—The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential and White Jazz—were all international best sellers. His new novel, Perfidia, also takes place in Los Angeles: Pearl Harbor has just been bombed, and a Japanese family has been murdered. Following his signature recipe, Ellroy's characters (including a Japanese-American forensic chemist, an adventurous young woman and cops both good and bad) are drawn into a tangled web of sex and deceit. We would expect no less from a man filmmaker Reinhard Jud called the "demon dog of American crime fiction."
Powell's City of Books, 1005 W Burnside St., 228-4651. 4 pm Saturday, Sept. 14. Free.
While many politicians would have us believe we get to fix either the economy or the environment but not both, journalist Naomi Klein (The Shock Doctrine) advocates the opposite—but with a twist. In her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, Klein argues the free market will only aggravate the climate crisis, and that by massively reducing greenhouse emissions we could also reduce economic inequalities and rebuild our democracy.
Powell's at Cedar Hills Crossing, 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., 228-4651. 7 pm Wednesday, Oct. 1. Free.
According to his official biography, author and musician James McBride is a truly terrible dancer. Not just bad, but in his own estimation "the worst dancer in the history of African-Americans, bar none, going back to slave time and beyond." Good thing he's got some backup talents, like being a highly respected best-selling author. His landmark memoir The Color of Water held a slot on The New York Times best-seller list for two years, his novel Miracle at St. Anna was adapted into a film by Spike Lee, and his newest book, The Good Lord Bird about abolitionist John Brown, won the 2013 National Book Award for fiction. He serves as an appropriately stellar kickoff for Literary Arts' 30th anniversary season of the Portland Arts and Lectures series. Yes, you have to subscribe to the entire season, and yes, it's expensive. But between McBride, Elizabeth Kolbert, Michael Chabon, Ruth Ozeki and Katherine Boo, it's guaranteed to be some of the most culturally rewarding money you spend all year.
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, 274-6560, literary-arts.org. 7:30 pm Thursday, Oct. 16. Season subscriptions $125-$305.
Millions of people already know many of the very private details of Piper Kerman's life, or at least the Netflix version of it. Kerman's memoir, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison, became the phenomenally popular Netflix series, already renewed for a third season. But real life isn't all cafeteria brawls and church sex, and Kerman has spoken out against mandatory minimum sentencing, the use of solitary confinement and violations of prisoners' civil rights. She serves on the board of the Women's Prison Association, and she'll speak in Portland as part of the 22nd season of the Voices Lecture Series, which hosts prominent women to speak on relevant issues.
Tiffany Center, 1410 SW Morrison St., 222-0703, voicesinc.com. 7:30 pm Wednesday, Nov. 12. General admission season subscription $189 (but there's typically a simulcast with cheap tickets available).
The Moth Mainstage
Everyone loves to be told a story, from spooky campfire tales to Uncle Dale regaling the Thanksgiving table about his botched vasectomy. But the folks at the Moth have elevated storytelling to a whole new level, and since 1997 the New York artistic collective has been helping thousands of people tell their stories live on stage. The flagship event, Moth Mainstage, now pops up in cities across the globe and will be back in Portland for your story-listening pleasure.
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, 248-4335, themoth.org. 7:30 pm Monday, Dec. 15. $15 and up.