Ear to the Ground


Paul Kolsby & David L. Ulin
Ear to the Ground
(Unnamed Press, April 2016)

Seismologist Charlie Richter, grandson of the inventor of the Richter scale, arrives in Los Angeles to begin work at the newly created Center for Earthquake Studies, a shadowy new agency that seems more interested in the entertainment potential of large quakes, than hard science. Charlie moves into an apartment next to Grace, a young script-reader working for a tyrannical Hollywood producer. Meanwhile, her boyfriend Ian is a deadbeat stoner “writer” who spends his time rubbing elbows at the Formosa and pitching the only script he has–a major earthquake disaster film.

When Charlie predicts that the “Big One” is going to hit LA, and shares it with his colleagues at the Center, he is in for a big shock: the Center’s main priority is to determine how they can leverage a major earthquake into Hollywood gold.

Suddenly everyone is looking to produce the next disaster blockbuster, Ian’s script, Ear to the Ground, is plucked from obscurity by Grace’s boss and given the fast track, complete with demanding stars, an irrational European director, and the now hot commodity of Ian, who grows as insufferable as he is amateurish. As Grace and Charlie grow closer, Charlie realizes that he is LA’s only hope and devises a death-defying plan.

Originally published as a serial in The L.A. Reader, Ear to the Ground is published for the first time, with a new introduction by Karolina Waclawiak, author of The Invaders.


Praise for Ear to the Ground

“Ulin has been one of the most influential voices in American literature for years, both in his role as book critic of the Los Angeles Times and as one of our finest essayists and thinkers.”
Tod Goldberg, author of Gangsterland


​David L. Ulin is book critic of the Los Angeles Times. A 2015 Guggenheim Fellow, he is the author or editor of nine books, including Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles, the novella Labyrinth, The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time, and the Library of America’s Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology, which won a California Book Award. ​