“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

Ear to the Ground

Paul Kolsby & David L. Ulin

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 LA 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

"Earthquake paranoia and blockbuster fever combine to animate this wry evocation of '90s era Los Angeles. Ear to the Ground rumbles and shakes at the intersection of science, commerce, and art. Ulin and Kolsby's collaboration manages to be equal parts antic, bleak and, finally, strangely optimistic."
Seth Greenland, author of I REGRET EVERYTHING