Oscar nominee Karen Black interviews Eduardo Santiago

Eduardo Santiago brought an impressive cadre of Los Angeles authors to Idyllwild to inaugurate his first Idyllwild Authors Series. Santiago’s success caused regulars at the series to ask Santiago, himself an author, to speak. On Aug. 6, at B’s Mountain of Books, owner Lauren Devore, grateful to Santiago for his efforts to promote her store, will host a party to celebrate the end of the series and Santiago himself.

Karen Black, Oscar-nominated actor for “Five Easy Pieces.” Photo courtesy of Karen Black

Joining the party, as interviewer for Santiago, will be Oscar-nominated actor Karen Black, known for her roles in “Five Easy Pieces,” “Easy Rider,” “The Great Gatsby,” “Nashville,” “The Day of the Locust” and “Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean.” In addition to winning Golden Globes for “Five Easy Pieces,” and “The Great Gatsby,” Black was nominated for Grammy Awards for songs she composed and sang in Robert Altman’s “Nashville.”

Black, an avid reader, met Santiago after reading his book, “Tomorrow They Will Kiss.” “He was smart enough to put his email address in the book,” remembered Black.

“Actually, I didn’t remember putting it there,” said Santiago. “I think the publisher did.” Black emailed Santiago and they corresponded for several years.

Black bemoans the closing of storefront bookstores. “I was reading ‘Little Women’ when I was 8, and Dostoevsky a little later,” she recalled in interview. “It’s a horror that these stores are closing. When bookstores close, it makes it harder to discover new authors.”

Black is intrigued by storyline and by concept. They figure in her choice of projects, as much as do the pedigrees and prior projects of the directors she chooses to work with. “My life is like a salon,” she said, remembering the gatherings of writers, artists and painters in Paris in the period between the World Wars. “There’s always a nascent project, something that draws me,” she said.

Described as a child prodigy (she prefers “precocious”), Black entered Northwestern University in Chicago at the age of 15. She went to New York two years later, making her Broadway debut at the age of 20 and her film debut at the age of 21. She continued to expand her career through appearances in over 150 films, made her screenwriting debut in the 1997 drama “Men” and as playwright with “Missouri Waltz” in 2007.

Of her approach to acting and, by extension, life, Black said, “In order to embrace what’s actually required of you, you have to understand it. You have to grasp the concept. It’s not some characteristic of myself as a personality; it’s just a love of concept. And some kind of integrity. You have to live up to snuff. You have to live up to your own standards.” Her favorite book is Marilynne Robinson’s first novel, “Housekeeping,” which was nominated for a Pulitzer. Robinson won the Pulitzer for her second novel, “Gilead.”

Black brings her warm wit, personality and curiosity to her dialogue with Santiago at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6, at B’s Mountain of Books. It should be a fine party.

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