“…so the violence and the unpredictability of the Santa Ana affect the entire quality of life in Los Angeles, accentuate its impermanence, its unreliability . The wind shows us how close to the edge we are.” ~ Joan Didion, Slouching Toward Bethlehem
Los Angeles: People, Places and the Castle on the Hill, A.M. Homes, 2002 — New York-based novelist, short-story writer and memoirest Homes checks into the star-larded Chateau Marmont (where James Belushi overdosed) to get an insider’s, bricks-and-mortar look into L.A. and its celebrity culture.
Where I was from, Joan Didion, 2004 — Didion is the nonfiction poet of California, and her piercing view of the state’s history in light of the 1993 Spur Posse sex scandal scours the state for meaning hidden and latent.
Black Dahlia Avenger: the True Story, Steve Hodel, with a foreword by James Ellroy, 2003 — Former detective Hodel traces the blood-trail of the murder of an innocent extra straight back to the doorstep of his kinky doctor father in this true-crime classic about one of the city’s greatest unsolved mysteries.
The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler, 1939 — Sure it’s one of the best mysteries of all time, but Chandler sings the rhythm of Los Angeles, the smell of “hard wet rain” on cement, the weight of bougainvillea on the portico of a decadent rich man’s house – and it’s a pleasure to read.
The Loved One, Evelyn Waugh, 1947 — Who knows California better than a detached Englishman? Novelist Waugh’s dead-on satire of Hollywood dissects how Los Angelenos revere their late pets at the “Happier Hunting Ground.”
Greetings from the Golden State, Leslie Brenner, 2001 — Food writer and debut novelist Brenner produces an off-beat Southern California family saga that spans the Kennedy Assassination to the Bush Administration.
Literacy and Longing in LA, Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack, 2006 — An amusing chic lit take on modern L.A. about a woman who is torn between two men and her love for reading.
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