A moment in mid-90s LA time - just after the riots, just after the Northridge Quake, mid wildfires (but when is LA not mid wildfires) and during the OA moment in mid-90s LA time - just after the riots, just after the Northridge Quake, mid wildfires (but when is LA not mid wildfires) and during the OJ Simpson trial. The essays could tend towards the curmudgeonly or silly, especially when celebs are involved, but a satisfying portrait of a city and a time.
Old hood shout-out: "We wandered out of Hollywood into the lackluster 'hoods that compose much of the Westside: Culver City, where MGM once reigned supreme, and the Fairfax District, where, as someone pointed out, we keep all the Jews. We keep CBS there, too."
And this- "Anytime I figure I know the place, it changes, like restaurants that vanish overnight, like the mini-malls that spring up where gas stations used to be, like parking structures that swallow whole neighborhoods. We are too complicated to dismiss, too violent not to notice, to powerful to overlook."
and... "Time has collapsed behind us. Easygoing isn't even a memory anymore. We are rocking around like a people gone mad, heading in every direction at once. It is like we are trapped in one of our own stupid movies and can't get out. We aren't thinking about tomorrow. We are thinking of only surviving today. But that's okay too, I guess. Today is very big in LA. There's a lot happening. The world media, drawn to us by calamity, remains, sensing our unpredictability. Like dogs at a slaughterhouse, they wait for another bloody nibble, epitomizing in their growling, restless way everyone's anxious anticipation of the next big feed. We've become the nation's biggest feast."...more
Yet another LA book...you'd think I miss the place or something.
LA is always thisclose to becoming a dystopia anyway, so Lepucki's description of whatYet another LA book...you'd think I miss the place or something.
LA is always thisclose to becoming a dystopia anyway, so Lepucki's description of what happens after everything falls apart (literally...we all knew the Big One was going to mess things up) seems super right. Silverlake Reservoir fills with garbage and maybe bodies, yet joggers still run around it? Yep. Revolutionaries take over Elysian Park and try to capture Dodger Stadium. Canters stays open as long as it possibly can, until there just isn't enough food left. 100% yes. Oh, and of course Calabasas turns into a private city for the rich. The Kardashians wouldn't have it any other way.
More than just an eerily accurate picture of how the world could disintegrate just a few years in the future, California explores how we will deal with each other and the loneliness of dystopia. How will we organize (or not)? What skills will we rely on? What resentments will we harbor and what forgivenesses will we give to each other?
It's weird to read a book that is doggedly specific to a neighborhood that at one point you knew like the back of your hand. This book takes place neaIt's weird to read a book that is doggedly specific to a neighborhood that at one point you knew like the back of your hand. This book takes place nearly entirely in the Los Angeles where the Russian part of West Hollywood and the Fairfax District meet, with a few brief forays into Hollywood and Griffith Park. Real stores, restaurants and street names are continually dropped, and it's nearly 100% accurate (come on. Kosher News is a block south on Oakwood, not Rosewood! Otherwise, Karolina, I think you got it).
All in all, a novel more about a place and a time in a life rather than events, and certainly enjoyable.
More LA quotes to add to the collection:
"Ash was coming down in specks on the cars on Fairfax. The air was hot and I knew if I kept the windows open my room would begin to smell like smoke at night. It happened every year during the Santa Anas. The fires. It made everyone crazy, wild-eyed, more so than even earthquakes."
"Small hunched women were wrestling with wire carts and going to the little stores that still sold fruit and vegetables in crates on tables, and not in big behemoth refrigerated wall units. Flies filled the air in these shops but their fruit was sweetest. I shopped there all the time. More people seemed to walk on Fairfax than anywhere else, visiting the apteka, purchasing orthopedic shoes in discreet black bags, stopping in the grocery and buying cans of foods labeled in different languages. Sometimes they walked in packs, sometimes alone, always in layers of clothing - always neat and scrubbed clean. Their appearance was carefully fretted over, even if they walked, nearly bent over in an L."
"'Why would you live somewhere where there's fires, floods and mudslides all the time? Earthquakes.' He raised his hands up when he said earthquakes. Like it was so stupid he couldn't comprehend it. 'Those are the seasons here,' I said. Holding out my hand and letting the ash crinkle into it."