April 19, 2013
Literary L.A.: 72 suburbs in search of an author
by Kirsten Reach
The L.A. Times just unveiled an interactive map of literary L.A., just in case you happen to be there for the L.A. Times Festival of Books.
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.