Literary L.A.: 72 suburbs in search of an author
Or, if you’re not, you can just read a bunch of excerpts online and pretend you’re someplace sunny and warm enough to take a drive with all the windows down.
Here are some highlights:
- Joan Didion’s protagonist driving down the WestSide freeway as if it were a river, “every day more attuned to its currents, its deceptions.”
- The Powell Library at UCLA, the basement of which Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 by feeding dimes into a pay-as-you-go typewriter.
- The description of San Gabriel Valley that appears in Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, as well as Luis J. Rodriguez’s trip to “Marrano [Swine] Beach” in the same landlocked valley.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald describing epithets directed at a woman screenwriter in Hollywood.
- Charles Bukowski convincing his lover to go to the beach, the arcades, the races, or a boxing match because “this kind of life like everybody else’s kind of life: it’s killing us.” A ringing endorsement for this fair city.
- The Garden of Allah, hotels that were home to Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley.
- Arroyo Blanco Estates, a subdivision in Topanga Canyon that appears in T.C. Boyle’s The Tortilla Curtain.
- Examples of freeway merging and fear quoted from Bret Easton Ellis’s Less Than Zero.
- Lovely bookstores including Book Soup, Skylight Books, Vroman’s Bookstore, Samuel French, Illiad, Taschen, Hennessey & Ingalls….
The L.A. Times is accepting suggestions if you know of any L.A. literature or landmarks that ought to be included.
On a related note, Tony Ross and Kim Zablud of DC Public Library collaborated with other librarians to launch a map of literary Washington, D.C. at the end of March. Theirs, too, is tied in with the city’s literary festival.
Kirsten Reach is an editor at Melville House.