Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology (Library of America)

Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology (Library of America)

Simone de Beauvoir saw a kaleidoscopic "hall of mirrors," Aldous Huxley a "city of dreadful joy." Jack Kerouac found a "huge desert encampment," David Thomson imagined "Marilyn Monroe, fifty miles long, lying on her side, half-buried on a ridge of crumbling rock."In Writing Los Angeles, The Library of America presents a glittering panorama in fiction, poetry, essays, journalism, and diaries by more than seventy writers.

It brings to life the entrancing surfaces and unsettling contradictions of The City of Angels, from Raymond Chandler's evocation of murderous moods fed by the Santa Ana winds to John Gregory Dunne's affectionate tribute to "the deceptive perspectives of the pale subtropical light." Here are fascinating strata of Los Angeles history, from the 1920s oil boom and the 1940s Zoot Suit Riots to 1950s beat culture and 1980s graffiti art, from flamboyant evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson to surf music genius Brian Wilson.

Scott Fitzgerald, and Christopher Isherwood.Fragile ecosystems, architectural splendors, and social chasms are examined by writers as various as M.F.K. Fisher, William Faulkner, Bertolt Brecht, Evelyn Waugh, Octavio Paz, Joan Didion, Ray Bradbury, Charles Bukowski, Walter Mosley, Mona Simpson, and Charles Mingus.

Art Pepper discovers the Central Avenue jazz scene of the 1940s; Salka Viertel recalls her circle of German émigré intellectuals; Garrett Hongo navigates the complexities of the city's racial patchwork; Tom Wolfe celebrates the sub-culture of custom car aficionados; John McPhee investigates the devastation of Los Angeles mud slides; screenwriter Robert Towne reflects on Chinatown's origin; David Hockney teaches himself to drive; James Ellry delineates the world of hard-bitten homicide cops; Pico Iyer finds at LAX "as clear an image as exists today of the world we are about to enter."Writing Los Angeles is an incomparable literary tour guide to a city of shifting identities and end surprises.Contents:from Echoes in the city of the angels by Helen Hunt JacksonThe land by Mary Austinfrom The rules of the game by Stewart Edward Whitefrom Sixty years in Southern California, 1853-1913 by Harris NewmarkCalifornia and America by Vachel Lindsayfrom Laughing in the jungle by Louis AdamicLos Angeles.

CainGolden land by William FaulknerPacific village ; A thing shared by M.F.K. Fisherfrom Promised land by Cedric BelfrageRed wind by Raymond Chandlerfrom Ask the dust by John Fantefrom The day of the locust by Nathanael Westfrom Diaries by Christopher IsherwoodLast kiss by F.

Scott Fitzgeraldfrom Autobiography : Hollywood by Charles ReznikoffA table at Ciro's by Budd SchulbergLandscape of exile ; Hollywood elegies ; Californian autumn ; The democratic judge ; The fishing-tackle ; Garden in progress ; from Journals by Bertolt Brechtfrom If he hollers let him go by Chester Himesfrom America is in the heart by Carlos Bulosanfrom Southern California country : an island on the land ; from North from Mexico by Carey McWilliamsfrom America day by day by Simone de BeauvoirHollywood by Truman CapoteDeath in Hollywood by Evelyn Waughfrom The labyrinth of solitude by Octavio PazThe pedestrian by Ray BradburyThe mattress by the tomato patch by Tennessee Williamsfrom The barbarous coast by Ross Macdonaldfrom On the road by Jack Kerouacfrom "Ocian in view" by Lawrence Clark PowellThe slide area by Gavin Lambertfrom Slum by the sea by Lawrence Liptonfrom Superman comes to the supermarket by Norman MailerThe lost world by Randall JarrellThe kandy-kolored tangerine-flake streamline baby by Tom WolfeGoodbye surfing, hello God!

by John Gregory Dunnefrom Straight life by Art Pepperfrom Seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees ; L.A. glows by Lawrence WeschlerPreface and postscript to Chinatown by Robert TowneAugust, Los Angeles, lullaby by Carol MuskeAngel baby blues by Wanda Colemanfrom Anywhere but here by Mona SimpsonNight song of the Los Angeles basin by Gary Snyderfrom Golden days by Carolyn Seefrom I was looking for a street by Charles WillefordGoing up in L.A. by Ruben Martinezfrom The control of nature by John McPheefrom City of quartz by Mike DavisCity of specters by Lynell Georgefrom Devil in a blue dress by Walter MosleyLas vistas by Mary Helen PonceComing home to Van Nuys by Sandra Tsing LohThe tooth of crime by James Ellroyfrom Volcano by Garrett HongoWhere worlds collide by Pico IyerBurl's by Bernard Cooperfrom The atlas by William T.

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This collection of writings about or set in Los Angeles --essays, short stories and novel excerpts-- from 78 different authors spanned a timeframe from Helen Hunt Jacksons Echoes in the City of the Angels written in 1883, to a 1997 selection from film writer David Thomson called Beneath Mulholland. The wide variety of formats, styles, subject matter, and attitudes toward this crazy place I call home, taken together, painted a much broader and more nuanced, realistic picture of the region than any one book or stories could possibly do, allowing for the truths behind the prevalent popular myths but also digging beyond the stereotypes. Many of the book excerpts were from full-length works that I had already read: novels such as Nathaniel Wests Day of the Locust, essays from Joan Didions Slouching Toward Bethlehem; nonfiction Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies, Mike Davis City of Quartz, and Harris Newmarks diary 60 Years in Southern California, 1853-1913. The most glaring single absence among male writers was Steve Erickson, brilliant contemporary film critic and author of several novels, two of which I have read and loved passionately. But most shocking is the omission of Eve Babitz, whom I think of as the ultimate L.A. Woman of the 1970s, a woman who gets Los Angeles as well as anyone ever has. The over-the-top boosterism and rampant real estate speculation in Los Angeles in the late 19th century and early 20th are described to comic effect in Steward Edwards Whites novel The Rules of the Game, where, Ulin says in an introductory blurb, everything is bigger, stranger and endlessly promoted . On a more positive, optimistic and appreciative note, Vechal Lindsays chapter California and America, from The Art of the Moving Picture describes the new medium of the movies as a new language and, from the vantage point of 1915, speculates that it is possible for Los Angeles to lay hold of the motion picture as our national text-book in Art. There are the usual send-ups of Hollywood, the movie industry, and stereotypical types populating that world, but not as many as youd think in a book this size. In addition to Brecht, Isherwood and Huxley, David Hockney wrote about his arrival in Los Angeles (with an amusing anecdote about how he learned to drive). The black, Latino and Filipino experiences are all represented in various pieces, with stories about the damaging racism thats always been prevalent here and its reverberating effects, including Carey McWilliams account of the Zoot Suit riots and Sleepy Lagoon murder trials of the early 1940s that victimized Latin youth.

So I started feeling kind of sad that not enough contemporary fiction is set in a real Los Angeles where people live and job and shop and eat and meet and do stuff; the most recent book I can think of off the top of my head is Mona Simpson's My Hollywood which, based on my negative reactions to T.C. Boyle's The Tortilla Curtain and Kathryn Stockett's execrable The Help I'm a bit nervous to read.

Of particular interest were those essays which purported to explain the unique kind of kookiness that we Los Angelenos take for granted, and which baffle outsiders who witness out lifestyles for the first time. Some of the fictional offerings, while a welcome change from the essays and non-fiction excerpts, do not seem LA-specific per se, but they universally manage to present some aspect of the "essence" that is uniquely Angeleno. Here, you will find musings from insiders who were working during the pinnacle of classic Hollywood, reflections from law enforcement personnel and excerpts from local noir crime fiction, historical suppositions and personal remembrances, all of it related to Los Angeles in some manner.

I bought this book to serve as a source of inspiration for my writing since the project I've been working on for the last 9 years takes place in Los Angeles.

David Ulin, book critic, and former book editor of the Los Angeles Times, and a New York transplant like myself, must have come to understand as well as come to terms with this side of the country by putting this extraordinary compilation of works together.

Ulin is book critic, and former book editor, of the Los Angeles Times.

  • English

  • Nonfiction

  • Rating: 4.20
  • Pages: 880
  • Publish Date: September 30th 2002 by The Library of America
  • Isbn10: 1931082278
  • Isbn13: 9781931082273