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Journalist to share experiences at Festival

By Courtney Powell

April 24, 2009 12:12 am

Not every journalist gets to write articles on everything from gun control in the U.S. to the celebrity couple, Gisele Bündchen and Tom Brady.

As an op-ed columnist for both the London Times and the Los Angeles Times, Chris Ayres gets to do just that.

Ayres will talk about his experience as both a columnist and an author on the panel “Memoirs with a Twist,” at the Festival of Books at noon this Saturday.

After starting his journalism career with the London Times straight out of college, Ayres moved to Los Angeles a few years after becoming well-established as a humorous and informative columnist and began writing for the Los Angeles Times.

While in Los Angeles, Ayres unexpectedly found himself with the opportunity of a lifetime.

The only problem? He didn’t want to take it.

“After two months of arriving in L.A., I was accidentally sent to Iraq to be a war correspondent,” he said.

“By accidentally, I mean that it was the last thing I wanted to do. I really did not want to go, but I was too embarrassed to say “˜no’ when they asked me. When you’re a journalist, you’re supposed to like that kind of thing.”

Ayres definitely did not like it.

Positioned on the front lines in Baghdad, Ayres spent nine days in Iraq with the U.S. Marines.

After that petrifying one week and two days, he returned home and wrote the book “War Reporting for Cowards,” which he refers to as his “humorous book about being an inept war correspondent.”

The book was well-received and critically acclaimed, and Ayres was nominated for the “War Reporter of the Year” in 2004.

His new project, “Death By Leisure,” is a sequel to his first book. The memoir, also meant to be humorous, recounts Ayres’ personal economic downfall as a result of his poor real estate choices during the U.S. economic downturn.

“It’s a book about the wild excesses that led up to the credit crash,” Ayres explained about his failed financial investments. “It’s about me indulging in all the same things just when the bubble burst.”

The book delves into the leisure-filled life that Ayres surrounded himself with while in Los Angeles when the recession unfolded.

Ayres said he will discuss the details of that lifestyle, along with answering questions about his other books and columns.

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