Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Eve's Hollywood

Rate this book
Journalist, party girl, bookworm, artist, muse: by the time she’d hit thirty, Eve Babitz had played all of these roles. Immortalized as the nude beauty facing down Duchamp and as one of Ed Ruscha’s Five 1965 Girlfriends, Babitz’s first book showed her to be a razor-sharp writer with tales of her own. Eve’s Hollywood is an album of  vivid snapshots of Southern California’s haute bohemians, of outrageously beautiful high-school ingenues and enviably tattooed Chicanas, of rock stars sleeping it off at the Chateau Marmont. And though Babitz’s prose might appear careening, she’s in control as she takes us on a ride through an LA of perpetual delight, from a joint serving the perfect taquito, to the corner of La Brea and Sunset where we make eye contact with a roller-skating hooker, to the Watts Towers. This “daughter of the wasteland” is here to show us that her city is no wasteland at all but a glowing landscape of swaying fruit trees and blooming bougainvillea, buffeted by earthquakes and the Santa Ana winds—and every bit as seductive as she is. 

296 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1974

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Eve Babitz

11 books1,856 followers
Babitz was born in Hollywood, California, the daughter of Mae, an artist, and Sol, a classical violinist on contract with 20th Century Fox.Her father was of Russian Jewish descent and her mother had Cajun (French) ancestry.Babitz's parents were friends with the composer Igor Stravinsky, who was her godfather.

In 1963, her first brush with notoriety came through Julian Wasser's iconic photograph of a nude, twenty-year-old Babitz playing chess with the artist Marcel Duchamp, on the occasion of his landmark retrospective at the Pasadena Art Museum. The show was curated by Walter Hopps, with whom Babitz was having an affair at the time. The photograph is described by the Smithsonian Archives of American Art as being “among the key documentary images of American modern art”.

Because of her ideas about sexuality, both in writing and life, much of the press over the years has emphasized her various romantic associations with famous men, including singer/poet Jim Morrison, artists (and brothers) Ed Ruscha and Paul Ruscha, and Hopps, amongst others. Babitz appears in Ed Ruscha’s artist book Five 1965 Girlfriends. Eve Babitz had affairs with comedian/writer Steve Martin, actor Harrison Ford, and writer Dan Wakefield, among others. She has been compared favorably with Edie Sedgwick, the protegee of Andy Warhol at The Factory in New York City.

Eve Babitz began her independent career as an artist, working in the music industry for Ahmet Ertegun at Atlantic Records, making album covers. In the late 1960s, she designed album covers for Linda Ronstadt, The Byrds, and Buffalo Springfield. Her most famous cover was a collage for the 1967 album Buffalo Springfield Again.

Her articles and short stories have appeared in Rolling Stone, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Esquire magazines. She is the author of several books including Eve's Hollywood; Slow Days, Fast Company; Sex and Rage; Two By Two; and L.A. Woman. Transitioning to her particular blend of fiction and memoir beginning with Eve's Hollywood, Babitz’s writing of this period is indelibly marked by the cultural scene of Los Angeles during that time, with numerous references and interactions to the artists, musicians, writers, actors, and sundry other iconic figures that made up the scene in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.

In 1997, Babitz was severely injured when ash from a cigar she was smoking ignited her skirt, causing life-threatening third-degree burns over half her body. Because she had no health insurance, friends and family organized a fund-raising auction to pay her medical bills. Friends and former lovers donated cash and artworks to help pay for her long recovery. Babitz became somewhat more reclusive after this incident, but was still willing to be interviewed on occasion.

Babitz died of Huntington's disease at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles on December 17, 2021, at age 78.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
1,235 (28%)
4 stars
1,800 (41%)
3 stars
989 (23%)
2 stars
219 (5%)
1 star
49 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 608 reviews
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 2 books247k followers
January 12, 2019
”It takes a certain kind of innocence to like L.A.”

 photo Eve20Babitz20and20Marcel20Duchamp_zpscu7jfolv.jpg
The Iconic photograph of Eve Babitz playing chess with Marcel Duchamp taken by Julian Wasser at the Pasadena Art Museum.

I have always had Eve Babitz categorized in my mind as one of the “IT” girls of the 1960s/1970s. As I was doing some research on her before reading this book, I suddenly realized that I did know her without knowing her. (I actually heard an audible click in my head as the tumblers fell into place.) The iconic photograph taken by Julian Wasser of her playing chess with Marcel Duchamp is certainly one of the more famous photographs of the early 1960s. I knew it was Duchamp (76) in the picture, but it never clicked with me until I decided to read this book that the attractive young girl (20) sitting across from him was Eve Babitz.

”The photograph is described by the Smithsonian Archives of American Art as being “among the key documentary images of American modern art.”

Eve mentioned in an interview that during this time she had started taking birth control and for some reason her breasts just exploded in size. She thought they were magnificent and should be immortalized. She also hoped that by participating in the photograph that she would be making her married boyfriend, Walter Hopps (31), who was the director of the Pasadena Art Museum jealous.

√ Magnificent
√ Immortalized
√Boyfriend jealous

Babitz’s parents were beautiful, talented, creative people, and like many people with symmetrical features and a desire to express themselves, they washed up on the shores of Hollywood. This is how Eve Babitz found herself going to Hollywood High, surrounded by some of the most beautiful teenagers on the planet. She was far from ugly, but she never made the top cut of those sirens who were not only breathtaking, but already gliding through life with self-assurance and poise.

”In the depression, when most of them came here, people with brains went to New York and people with faces came West.”

 photo Johnny_Stompanato_real_life_zpswdenh59n.jpg
Johnny Stompanato and Lana Turner, a fatal alliance.

She is the goddaughter of the famous composer Igor Stravinsky. Her parents were connected well enough that as Eve was growing up she was frequently in the same room, at the same dining table, sitting by a pool, or at the same party as famous writers, artists, actors, and musicians. One of my favorite stories from the book was when she was picked up from a party at age 14 by this handsome Italian man. I was surprised, not shocked, at the conclusion of the evening, but the real kicker came a year later when she saw his picture in the paper and for the first time realized the man from the party was Johnny Stompanato. He was a mobster dating Lana Turner and was suffering from bouts of jealous rage. He even threatened Sean Connery, Turner’s co-star, with a gun. Connery, in true Bond fashion, grabbed his wrist, bent his arm back, and disarmed him.

I’ve done Eve a disservice over the years, thinking of her as just a society girl. She certainly did have a lot of fun, but she wasn’t just a famous pretty face. She started out her career as an artist for a record studio. She designed album covers for Linda Ronstadt, The Byrds, and Buffalo Springfield. She wrote short stories that were published in Esquire, Rolling Stone, and Vogue. She also wrote four books.

 photo BuffaloSpringfieldBuffaloSpringfieldAgain_zpsflyrun9q.jpg
Cover art designed by Babitz.

All of that was somewhat overshadowed by the attention of the media regarding her liberal views about sexuality. She was romantically involved with Jim Morrison, Steve Martin, and Harrison Ford, just to name a few. One could get the impression she was famous for just being the plus one.

Books are a major part of her life. She states in this book that Dombey and Sons actually saved her life when her depression was putting her on the verge of suicide. She loaths Nathaniel West because she feels he paints a bleak and harsh view of Los Angeles without giving the city credit for what makes it great. She doesn’t apologize for the culture in California, but she does share some very fond memories of why she finds the city so amazing and so undervalued.

She knew Bobby Beausoeil who was a talented upcoming musician until he was recruited and “brainwashed” by Charles Manson. Bobby’s good looks were used by Manson to lure attractive women into “the family”. Because of Bobby’s glumness, Eve and her friends always called him Bummer Bob. Thinking about the fact that Eve actually spent the night under the same roof with Bummer Bob on more than one occasion, although she does make it clear that she never had sexual relations with him, has to produce an involuntary shiver from time to time when she contemplates his role in the Manson murders.

The narrative of this book is rambling. She jumps backwards and forwards in time as effortlessly as a circus performer on a trampoline. Many of the chapters are vignettes, mere impressions of a moment. One of the shortest ones was on Cary Grant.

”I once saw Cary Grant up close.
He was beautiful.
He looked exactly like Cary Grant.”

Bret Easton Ellis is a big fan of her subject matter and her style. She is writing about the mothers and fathers that spawned the generation that Ellis writes about in Less than Zero. Eve’s California generation was self-indulgent, self-absorbed, bored, too rich, too pretty, and self-destructive, but the children of the 1980s took those negative tendencies and expanded them into an art form of how to squander an infinite amount of opportunities.

If you only like books with a linear narrative, this is not a book for you. If you don’t like people who name drop (you might have a few issues you need to discuss with your therapist), you won’t like this book. There are times in the book where I wish she had dropped the name, but for discretion purposes she decided to withhold it. Oh, and by the way, people aren’t asked to write books, especially Hollywood memoirs, who don’t KNOW people.

If you want to know what it was like to make out with Jim Morrison...sorry she didn’t say a peep.

If you are looking for a refreshing memoir about Hollywood and all the satellite people orbiting around the entertainment business, then this is a book that you might find, like me, to be a guilty pleasure. I want to thank NYRB for putting this book back in print. Once this book went out of print, it was almost impossible to find at a reasonable price.

 photo Eve20Babitz_zpsnaajpl6r.jpg
Eve Babitz

Unfortunately, Eve Babitz is not writing for publication anymore. She had a horrible accident when ash from the cigar she was smoking set fire to her skirt, leaving her with third degree burns over half of her body. Because she didn’t have health insurance, people she had known as lovers, friends, and acquaintances all donated money to make sure she received the care she needed. I hope she does find the will to write again, one more book, a summation of a life of being almost famous.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at: https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
Profile Image for Matt.
906 reviews28.1k followers
May 11, 2022
“I don’t remember how old I was when I first heard Los Angeles described as a ‘wasteland’ or ‘seven suburbs in search of a city’ or any of the other curious remarks uttered by people. It was never like that for us growing up here… ‘Wasteland’ is a word I don’t understand anyway because physically, surely, they couldn’t have thought it was a wasteland – it has all these citrus trees and flowers growing everywhere. I know they meant ‘culturally.’ But it wasn’t. Culturally, L.A. has always been a humid jungle alive with seething L.A. projects that I guess people from other places just can’t see. It takes a certain kind of innocence to like L.A., anyway. It requires a certain plain happiness inside to be happy in L.A., to choose it and be happy here. When people are not happy, they fight against L.A. and say it’s a ‘wasteland’ and other helpful descriptions…”
- Eve Babitz, Eve’s Hollywood

The first time I came across Eve Babitz was in a 2015 Vanity Fair article dedicated to a famous 1973 photograph in which she was the subject. The picture in question, snapped by Julian Wasser, showed Babitz playing chess with the French painter Marcel Duchamp. The thing about this photograph – the reason it merited its own Vanity Fair piece – is that the two competitors are a study in contrasts. On one side of the table, almost forgotten, there is Duchamp, an older man, fully clothed, carefully studying the board. On the other side is Babitz, a young woman without a stitch of clothing anywhere on her body. She’s not even wearing a watch.

As art goes, it is funny, provocative, and certainly gets your attention, though any deeper meaning eludes my intellect. In any event, it was certainly enough for me to ask the question: Who is Eve Babitz?


Helpfully, the Vanity Fair article mentioned above had been written to coincide with the New York Review Books Classics reissue of Eve’s Hollywood, which had originally been published in 1972. Babitz, it seemed, was in the midst of a renaissance of sorts, a flared-out meteor being reframed as a Joan Didion counterpart.

Honestly, none of this really interested me. But at the same time, the New York Review Books Classics has seldom let me down. So I purchased a copy, fully intending to let it sit on my shelf for the rest of my life, just one more forlorn artifact of my literary intentions.


I finally read this for a couple reasons.

First, Babitz – who lived long enough to be famous, forgotten, and rediscovered – recently passed away.

Second, Eve’s Hollywood is nothing at all like what I usually read. My personal library is filled with histories, biographies, “classic novels,” the occasional work of zeitgeisty contemporary fiction, and a hidden shelf full of titles in the so-bad-they-are-necessary category. What my library does not have is memoirs, confessionals, or essay collections.

Eve’s Hollywood is a combination of all three.

So here we are. And even though I still don’t understand how Babitz came to be the journalist, artist, muse, and party girl hyped by the back-cover copy, I enjoyed it well enough.


In terms of structure, Eve’s Hollywood is almost entirely unstructured. It consists of forty-six separate chapters – for lack of a better word – that range anywhere in length from a paragraph to over a dozen pages. It’s hard to be more precise because the chapters are unnumbered – I counted them myself, and I might be wrong, because my mind started to wander – and there is no table of contents. In other words, good luck revisiting your favorites!

Early on, there is a bit of a chronology involved, as Babitz discusses her parents, her childhood upbringing, and her time in high school. The further you get in this 296-page book, however, the less Babitz seems tethered to either time or theme.

Almost inevitably, this style is qualitatively inconsistent. Some chapters feature marvelous vignettes; others just indulge in shameless namedropping. Some chapters are funny; others are tedious. One chapter is a “scrapbook” of personal photos. The only dependable virtue is that nothing overstays its welcome.

By way of example, my eyes glazed over as Babitz dwelled on her time at Hollywood High, but I was alternatively entertained by her tale of going to New York, hanging out with Timothy Leary, and getting busted by the cops, and beguiled by a short paean to her love for Lawrence of Arabia. Meanwhile, her fierce defense of Los Angeles is almost touching.


Early in Eve’s Hollywood, Babitz recounts her relationship with the dancer Vera Stravinsky in a telling passage:

Vera was Vera and her brilliant innocence is something that is so charming and so sexy and so purely about life that you have to have been there, you have to have heard her laugh, you have to have seen her roomful of flowers and her purple satin capes made in Rome lined with iridescent taffeta to know that it is possible, that Anything is Possible and that a woman spun out into the finest silk makes the strongest rope. I waited until I got around her to eat caviar, otherwise, I knew I’d never get the point.

To me, this paragraph encompasses a great deal about Babitz’s prose style. There are careening sentences, wonderful turns of phrase, and overconfident pronouncements. There is also the pervasive sense of unexamined entitlement, as though everyone in the world hangs out with the rich and the famous, carefully choosing the right person with whom to eat caviar.

The pendulum swings wildly in this one. The eight-page “Dedication,” replete with in-jokes and unfamiliar celebrities, is just insufferable, and gave me pause from the start. The penultimate chapter, though, about getting some taquitos at the corner of Sunset and Alameda – complete with a hand-drawn map – has a more populist bent.


Because this is a classic – at least according to the unimpeachable NYRB – I was surprised at how weightless this felt. I hesitate to use the word “shallow,” but it definitely flitted across my mind. There is a chapter on the Watts Riot that has absolutely nothing incisive to say. Babitz touches on sex (she talks about losing her virginity), her weight, and her different selves, but never develops this into anything meaningful. There were certain moments when this felt like a slightly-better-than-average LiveJournal or Tumblr or Instagram account, dwelling too long on the inane or transitory.


Yet something about this reached me. There is a time-capsule quality to Eve’s Hollywood that transcends its glibness.

Babitz was born in the 1940s, writes about the 1960s, and published this in the 1970s, but there is an immediacy here that tricks you, that blurs the boundaries between decades. The present-tense method she employs makes it feel like you are right there with her, that this is happening now, that her favorite taquito stand is still right there, and we should just hop in the car, park in the gas station lot, and cross the street to grab one. Eve’s Hollywood left me with the vivid impression that there is an alternate universe out there, and in that universe, Babitz is still young, still inexplicably famous, and still gliding in an infinite loop through the gilded lives of the monied and celebrated denizens of Los Angeles.
Profile Image for Violeta.
75 reviews78 followers
December 22, 2021
I once saw Cary Grant up close.
He was beautiful.
He looked exactly like Cary Grant.

Says Eve Babitz, “irresistible hybrid of boho intellectual and L.A. party girl” according to Vanity Fair. The year is 1972 and this is her first book, a collection of quasi-autobiographical essays. Those three sentences comprising the whole of a chapter called simply ‘Cary Grand’ are a good example of Babitz’s writing (witty, insinuating and intimate – almost conspiratorial) and of the way she shares names and places, moods and yearnings, as though we are all members of the same group of insiders.

Which of course isn’t the case, at least not for me, so sometimes I really didn’t know what she was talking about until the final sentence. But I pretended I did nevertheless; just like we affirmatively nod our heads in happy ignorance at parties where everybody seems to know everybody else and we’re left to our own devices to figure out what’s going on. It’s kind of frustrating, if not altogether risky when it comes to books (because you easier leave a book than you leave a party).

BUT: those other times that I did get it, that I knew what she was hinting at…
…those times magic happened: the writer-reader conspiracy. Yes, the woman CAN write, she’s indeed a killer combination of looks and brains, the type that contributes to the conversation as much as she contributes to the life of the party. Actually, no, she IS the life of the party.

Valentino died of a burst appendix because he refused to go to the hospital (too brave), and like the Jim Morrison phrase which occurs to me whenever I think about some foolhardy, glamorous, and fatal adventure, he was “trapped in a prison of his own device.” In fact, Hollywood herself was always trapped in a prison of her own devise, but don’t think about that (because if you do you’ll start wondering what devises are, anyway, if not prisons, and if you’re going to have to be trapped in one, it might as well be a Hollywood devise).

Eve Babitz is a sexier, zanier, apolitical version of Joan Didion. They are contemporaries, in fact they knew each other back then, and Didion put in a good word with her publisher, thereby contributing to Babitz’s literary discovery. Same as Didion, she is a native daughter of a land fantasized by many. That makes her own fantasies firmly tied to a reality already lived and explored. A Hollywood reality not much idolized while she was writing about it (I was pretty and smart and scornful and impatient), but affectionately appreciated for its very pragmatic qualities and all it had to offer to anyone eager to play along.

I enjoyed how she kept defending West Coast against its East Coast relegation to ‘cultural wasteland’:
“Nathanael West is the best writer about Hollywood there ever was.”
“No, he isn’t.”
The first speaker is someone from Chicago, the second is me, born in Hollywood. People from the East all like Nathanael West because he shows them it’s not all blue skies and pink sunsets, so they don’t have to worry: It’s shallow, corrupt and ugly. I think Nathanael West was a creep. Assuring his friends back at Dartmouth that even though he’d gone to Hollywood, he had not gone Hollywood.

Slightly less than fifty pieces of ‘autobiographical fiction’ varying in length from a few lines to a few pages. Pieces on what it’s like to attend high school in a neighborhood where most everybody is the son or daughter of movie people, and what it’s like to grow up around people who possess a certain je ne sais quoi – and then becoming one of them. Pieces on Beauty and its privileges (enormous), on Fantasy and its power (one of God’s mean tricks), on the Answer (LSD), on surfing films and their audience, on Taquitos (Janis Joplin could have gone to Olvera Street and gotten them, instead of O.D.ing one Sunday afternoon, alone, in Landmark Motel), on Partying and Death
(Of course, the Vatican has always enforced its efforts by continuously playing up that it was hell not to be in heaven until finally everyone forgot the entire point, which was that they should be at their own party in the meantime, just in case… Just in case death is other people having fun without you.)

They are pieces that transported me to a time and place and a California state of mind that is now the stuff of movie and rock’n’roll legend. Ms Babitz did a great job in sharply observing, eagerly living and frankly chronicling it. I enjoyed reading them all, even those that I struggled to understand. They were sun-drenched enough to make for the perfect summer read.

Helmut Newton, Woman Observing Man, 1975

P.S. Morning-after addition. Good example of insinuating writing. Short and sweet:

Angels Flight

It cost a nickel to go on Angels Flight, the world's shortest railroad, located once in downtown L.A. and now gone. The car went up and down the steep side of Bunker Hill all day so people with groceries wouldn't have to walk up endless steps, which were parallel. It was a luxury railroad.
There was a man at the top only who collected the nickel from the people coming up and took the nickel before you could go down. He dispensed tickets from a little booth and also ran the cable car/railroad.
My mother would take me and she would buy a two-way ticket for us both, round trip. I asked the man once,
"Didn't it ever just...crash?"
We directed our gazes to the store across the street at the bottom which lay ready for a direct hit.
"Oh, once," he said, "the cable broke."

December 22, 2021
I read today That Eve Babitz died a few days ago, at 78. She was unique and one of the best of her kind.
Profile Image for Joe Valdez.
476 reviews786 followers
December 18, 2021
The Year of Women--in which I'm devoting 2021 to reading female authors only--continues with my introduction to Eve Babitz and her essay collection Eve's Hollywood. Published in 1974, there have been few authors I've read this year whom I've liked personally as much as Babitz. I have zero interest in a fictional character being "likable," as long as she's compelling, but not since Ottessa Moshfegh have I felt this much a groupie while reading a book. I marveled at Babitz's writing, grinned often and felt transported back to the era portrayed in Once Upon a Time In Hollywood.

-- So there I was, nearing my 18th birthday, so Hollywooded up that I aspired to be a kind of Scheherazade/ Sheena combination with Mme. Rècarmier and Elizabeth Taylor thrown in. I hadn't really liked Elizabeth Taylor until she took Debbie Reynolds' husband away from her, and then I began to love Elizabeth Taylor. It wasn't until I got to Rome and Elizabeth Taylor's dalliances made 20,000 extras be paid ten thousand lire a day for six additional months and the rents skyrocketed that I began to wish Elizabeth Taylor would calm down, but still ... it was worth it. Every time I thought how the rent had been so much cheaper before Cleopatra, I remembered those horrible bones in Debbie Reynolds' eye sockets. Elizabeth Taylor served everyone right.

-- My friend Annie told me that when she was in New York last time she'd been doing so many things that when she finally found herself alone she decided to just take a kind of here-and-there ramble "just to think," she said, "you know." Rounding the corner, she was confronted with a wino wielding a broken glass bottle, so she threw five dollars at him and ran. That always seemed like the whole thing; they'll let you have stories, but you can't ever think in a certain way. There are no spaces between the words, it's one of the charms of the place. Certain things don't have to be thought about carefully because you're always being pushed from behind. It's like a tunnel where there's no sky.

-- The beach from that summer was called Roadside. It was 1958 and a lot of kids from West L.A. went there--tough kids with knives, razors, tire irons and lowered cars. No kids from my school or any of the schools nearby went to Roadside, they went to Sorrento where there were never any fights and where most of the kids from Hollywood High, Fairfax and Beverly spent their summers listening to "Venus" on the radio or playing volleyball. If I had only known about Sorrento, I never would have gone to the beach so passionately, since Sorrento was a disapassionate beach involved mainly in the junior high and high school ramifications of polite society, sororities, Seventeen magazine, football players and not getting your hair wet.

-- These were the daughters of people who were beautiful, brave, and foolhardy, who had left their homes and traveled to movie dreams. In the Depression, when most of them came here, people with brains went to New York and people with faces came West. After being born of parents who believed in physical beauty as a fact of power, and being born beautiful themselves, these were then raised in California, where statistically the children grow taller, have better teeth and are stronger than anywhere else in the country. When they reach the age of 15 and their beauty arrives, it's very exciting--like coming into an inheritance and, as with inheritances, it's fun to be around when they first come into the money and watch how they spend it and on what.

Among the hundreds of anecdotes in the marvelous Live from New York: An Oral History of Saturday Night Live by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales, several stand out, one much more than the others now that I've read Eve's Hollywood. Here's film director John Landis, who dropped by Studio 8H to visit John Belushi prior to beginning production on National Lampoon's Animal House in 1977.

I went up to the SNL offices. John was giving me a tour, when a very sexy girl walks by. Tight jeans and a T-shirt, no bra, curly hair. "Oh my God, who is that?" And John says, "That's Rosie Shuster. That's Lorne's wife and Danny's girlfriend." Which is true. It was wild. Rosie's the one who coined the best line about Aykroyd. Danny had studied in a seminary to be a Jesuit priest the same time he was doing second story jobs in and around Ontario. Rosie's the one who said, "Danny's epiphany would be to commit a crime and arrest himself."

Wherever a highly successful or talented man is to be found, so is a Rosie Shuster or Eve Babitz. They might not consider themselves writers, but they're recording. Eve's Hollywood gives these magnificent women their due. Who are they? "Wife," "Girlfriend" or "Groupie" are typically used terms. Some achieve success as writers or producers, like Shuster, while Babitz is in a class by herself as a memoirist. Her quips are radiant. Her ability to illustrate an emotional landscape is skilled. Her defense of her hometown as a city with culture is commendable.

Babitz is not a gossip and if she were once a world class party girl, her adventures here remain relatively clean and sober. Her topics range from the mystique of violin players, the oddity of girls you went to high school with becoming film ingenues, the effect Marlon Brando had on her as a teenager (in Viva Zapata!), Xerox machines and the wonders of taquitos. In "The Landmark," she extols the virtues of small taco stands on Olvera Street and how if Janis Joplin had known about them, she wouldn't have overdosed alone in a nearby motel room.

The 1960s and '70s are viewed as a boys' club compared to the workplace of today, which is considered much more equal. The office of the mid-20th century in all its chauvinism is dramatized across many seasons of Mad Men. Yet Babitz writes with such passion, articulating such a strong sense of independence and freedom that it makes me reconsider how much progress has really been made. People are under such intense scrutiny today and most of us long for a time when our personality or comments could wander free. Eve's Hollywood lets us revisit that world.

I'd recommend nibbling at Eve Babitz, I mean, nibbling at her writing, reading one essay per week, as they were originally intended to be read. "Eve's Hollywood" reminds me of a magazine column and binging her essays in one week adds up to much ado about nothing. Taken piece by piece with the proper space, I felt I would've had even more appreciation for her yearnings and passions, her supreme confidence, her wit and wonderful sense of freedom she conveys on the page.

Eve Babitz was born in 1943 in Hollywood, California. Her father was a classical violinist under contract to 20th Century Fox and both parents were friends with composer Ivor Stravinsky, who was Eve's godfather. A graduate of Hollywood High School--which she attended begrudgingly for two years--Babitz gained notoriety at age 20 posing for photographer Julian Wasser playing chess in the nude. She continued partying on the Sunset Strip for another ten years, using a Brownie box camera to photograph rock groups, which led to designing album covers for Buffalo Springfield, Leon Russell and ultimately Linda Ronstadt. 

In 1971, Joan Didion passed a personal essay Babitz had written about Hollywood High to an editor at Rolling Stone. Babitz would be commissioned to write many magazine articles. Unlike Didion, she was appreciated less for her writing and more for her openness to discuss her social life. In 2014, a tribute in Vanity Fair by Lili Anolik launched a revival that includes magazine profiles, Babitz's books reissued by the New York Review Books Classics, a biography by Anolik and a TV series in development at Hulu based on Babitz's memoirs.

Previous reviews in the Year of Women:

-- Come Closer, Sara Gran
-- Veronica, Mary Gaitskill
-- Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys, Viv Albertine
-- Pizza Girl, Jean Kyoung Frazier
-- My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Ottessa Moshfegh
-- Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, Fannie Flagg
-- The Memoirs of Cleopatra, Margaret George
-- Miss Pinkerton, Mary Roberts Rinehart
-- Beast in View, Margaret Millar
-- Lying In Wait, Liz Nugent
-- And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie
-- Desperate Characters, Paula Fox
-- You, Caroline Kepnes
-- Deep Water, Patricia Highsmith
-- Don't Look Now and Other Stories, Daphne du Maurier
-- You May See a Stranger: Stories, Paula Whyman
-- The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, Deesha Philyaw
-- White Teeth, Zadie Smith
-- Eva Luna, Isabel Allende
-- Slouching Toward Bethlehem: Essays, Joan Didion  
Profile Image for Kathleen.
Author 32 books1,138 followers
December 11, 2015
My essay about Eve Babitz & this book for the Chicago Tribune:

Few things make me shake my head with greater incredulity that when someone says something to the effect that the market rewards those who most deserve it (for their obvious talent, for their skill at competition, for their meeting of a demand, etc.). That kind of blind belief that the cream magically and meritocratically rises to the top is frustrating in any context, including an aesthetic one. Historically and currently, the literary field is crowded with figures who are nowhere near as recognized and read as their work would seem to merit.

One such author whose work I've fallen into a deep fascination with over the past year and a half is the Los Angeles-based prose writer Eve Babitz, whose debut memoir-in-essays, "Eve's Hollywood," came out in 1974, when she was 31. It is full, as she puts it, of moments "of perfume where everything (is) gone except for the dazzle." Everything I've read of hers — from that book to her autobiographical story collection "Slow Days, Fast Company: The World, The Flesh, and LA: Tales" to the autobiographical novel "Sex and Rage" — has been dazzling (even though it hasn't always been easy to track down, but more on that later).

As her titles indicate, Babitz mixes high culture and low life with brainy-sexy ease. Her tone is unfailingly sophisticated, ironic, intelligent, and above all fun and funny and saturated with joie de vivre even when the material itself gets dark, which is often. There's plenty of drugs, out-of-control parties, cruel men and bad sex alongside the free love and surfing and taquitos and loving portraits of her family and her irascible cat.

She's a genius prose stylist with a glamorous, gossipy and winsome voice. But while she's having a bit of a revival at the moment, thanks to a Vanity Fair piece by Lili Anolik that came out in February 2014, and the New York Review Books' reissue of "Eve's Hollywood" in October, she still seems criminally underrated.

At DePaul University, where I teach, practically all of my savvy English and Creative Writing students know, admire and imitate Joan Didion. As well they should. But to a person, none has ever heard of Babitz. For that matter, most people I know have never read her (though they might be getting sick of my constantly encouraging them to do so). And if Didion is a rare example of someone whose reputation does seem commensurate with her astonishing skill (anecdotal support for those "the market sorts itself out" types), then Babitz is a tally mark for my side, which says that good stuff often sinks unjustly out of sight.

If heavenly Joan Didion is, in some sense, the moon of the West Coast-inflected prose writing world, cool and wry, dry and fashionably detached, then Babitz is the sun, hot and bright, excessive and hilarious, and they both write about California — and most things, really — incredibly well.

Sadly, unlike Didion, many of Babitz's seven books have been languishing out of print for years, though if you're lucky you can find them in your local library or scoop them up used. (Also sadly, in 1997, Babitz was injured when she was smoking and ash fell onto her skirt, catching fire and causing third-degree burns over half her body; since then, she's become a semi-recluse.) Fortunately, 2015 is a decent year for getting into her work, since you can get "Eve's Hollywood" as well as her 1982 novel "L.A. Woman," which Simon and Schuster reissued in October as well.

If you do get a hold of them, in addition to taking the so-called market into your own hands, you'll have the pleasure of hearing her tales of bohemian Southern California in the 1960s and '70s among artists, rock stars, movie producers, starlets, jetsetters and millionaires.

As voluptuous and chaotic as their milieus often are, these books are not without discernment and critique. With their beautiful structures and sterling syntax, they are books by someone who clearly loves life and who knows how to convey both the life and the love.

Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,907 reviews35.3k followers
August 31, 2022
review soon -- I liked it enough to download "Snow Days, Fast Company".


Audiobook…..read by Mia Barron
…..8 hours and 21 minutes
with a ‘kiss-ass’ fun voice narrator.

I also own the physical book…
… where the added black and white photos are delightful.
In my next lifetime—I want to come back as Eva Babitz.
God — she’s gorgeous—real-size-body gorgeous!
Plus, Eva adds new flavors and dimensions to the phrase ‘well-rounded’.
“A journalist, party girl, bookworm, author, artist, muse by the time she hit thirty, Eve Babbitt had played all these roles”.

The physical book — [silky-smooth- to-touch], has three pages - single space - in ‘tiny’ fine print, other New York Classic book titles to explore. (I love this - and how handy it is)……

So….back to Eva Babitz ….
…..Her personality is sparkly….
…..her mind is sharp, witty, brilliant….(with honesty and candor)….she’s an L.A. Hollywood icon……’all-around’ desirable!

“Eve’s Hollywood”…..(essays and vignettes), is the perfect antidote to depression, grief, psycho-therapy, breathwork, yoga, Pilates, Taoism, and boredom…..

Eve Babitz is a conglomeration of everything Southern California
claims to be— hip, Metropolitan, Bohemian, the movie and music industry of Walt Disney, Universal Pictures, MGM, Paramont, Warner Bros, The Academy of Arts and Science,……
…….home of the famous ‘stars’, beaches, mountains, SURFING-U.S.A., large sport events, earthquakes, privileges and beauty, rich people, fancy cars, busy Freeways, great libraries, bookstores, museums, chic boutiques, educational opportunities, botanical gardens, yummy outdoor HUGE open-markets (fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, and every kind of edible that could make your mouth water, parties, drugs, sunny days, smoggy days, heat waves, *Juniors*, (The best Jewish delicatessen in Southern California), sunrises, and sunsets, etc.

What makes this book so classically great is —EVE —her input on love, relationships, beauty, sex, friendships, the city she grew up in, from normalcy to eccentricity.

I’ve visited Southern Cal often at one point in my life.
I was in LA almost every weekend. (hitched a ride from UC Berkeley to UCLA to visit Larry—a boyfriend of few years-who sadly died last year), and to visit my sister at the same time.
Most of my extended family still lives in Southern Cal. My sister has been in Manhattan Beach for over 60 years.
Our first born daughter (in the entertainment industry), has lived in West Hollywood for twenty-three years……
nephews, nieces, cousins, friends are all in Southern California.
I appreciate Southern Cal (besides the freeways)…
but I prefer the SFBay Area and Northern California.
but I like EVE ….(a woman with Southern California with swag).

I love what Eve brought to this book —- her life experiences growing up in Los Angeles - BEING HERSELF!!
She must be one of the least boring people in the world.
I’d love to hang out with her.
Smart and serious when it matters — aloof and ‘fuck-it’ when it doesn’t matter so much!

Since enjoying Eve and her book — I’ve already started listening to another: “Slow Days, Fast Company”…..

I’ve been picky & finicky lately…..
restless, mad, boring as hell,…..(but also accepting of a little pessimistic moodiness these days) > still feeling the after-blow-crappies & shame with an overall Cholesterol number of 300

Turning 70 this year has done a little something to me. It’s very clear there are less years ahead to live than years already lived—-
so, I’m slowly exploring new ways to —- maybe?…..live my best years ever.
This was one of them!
Eve Babitz is an amazing woman.
She feels the anger — isn’t afraid to express it —
She oozes life flowing and moving - waves choppy - chilly -hot- and cold - all at the same time

Her ALIVENESS inspired the hell out of me!!
That said —
“Eve’s Hollywood” is all about the splendid Eve! (fine by me!)

Profile Image for Barry Pierce.
536 reviews7,212 followers
March 23, 2018
In Nathanael West's celebrated novel of Hollywood, The Day of the Locust, Eve Babitz sees nothing but an unfair diatribe against her beloved hometown of Los Angeles. Babitz often hears of Hollywood being described as a 'wasteland', a fake town full of fake people where even the greenery is plastic. In Eve's Hollywood she refutes that myth.

Babitz had a highly privileged upbringing, her father was a violinist who worked on movie scores for Fox and her mother was an artist. Stravinsky was her godfather, seriously. She became one of the most famous 'It girls' of 60s and 70s LA and knew everyone from Jim Morrison to members of the Manson Family. Eve's Hollywood is a part-memoir and part-novel of Babitz's early life and her attempt at a vindication for her beloved childhood home of Hollywood.

Nobody can write an opening line like Eve Babitz. Just take some of these examples: 'Death, to me, has always been the last word in people having fun without you.' and 'The cat I had most of my adult life so far committed suicide last summer and we buried her under the apricot tree in back of my parents' house.' Just dazzling. Babitz is like if Joan Didion had a sense of humour.

However, whilst all of the vignettes that make up this collection are fascinating insights into Babitz' life, there doesn't seem to be any common connecting factor threading them all together. Reading this book is like hopping along the stepping stones of Babitz' memories and not stopping until you reach dry land. Everything seems to crash together and there is no semblance of a structure or timeline. Thus reading this book can be quite a disorientating experience. Much like listening to Stravinsky actually.

This book's raison d'être is to show the world that Hollywood is not a wasteland. Does Babitz succeed in this? Most definitely. Eve's Hollywood is an oasis of culture and effervescence that makes New York look like Cripple Creek, Colorado. Eve's Hollywood gives us a fascinating account of 60s LA from the woman who was at the centre of everything.
Profile Image for noosha.
200 reviews3 followers
August 12, 2019
could not finish bc this big titty bitch is insufferable
Profile Image for Marie-Therese.
412 reviews165 followers
June 29, 2018
I suppose this might have some minor documentary value as a roman à clef for those interested in this period and locale but its value as literature is so slight that if you look sideways it vanishes.

Babitz, who describes herself as a "tall, clean California Bardot with messy hair..." is consistently vapid and narcissistic-apparently interested in things only as they relate to her and her appetites for celebrity, sex (mostly with much older men), booze, and drugs. Her take on the Watts Riots is basically name-dropping and hippies and their interest in Eastern religions elicits this deathless bit of maundering:"But Eastern religions, all that Hindu junk everyone sank into, that piece of total shit which said The Answer lay somewhere in a religion in which they actually named people "Untouchables." I mean, we all know there are some untouchables, but to name people like that seems true crassness of unredeemable proportions...Buddhism with that fat guy in a lotus position was faintly pornographic because I always wondered what his cock could ever be like in all that flab. No wonder he didn't "have women." His cock was probably two inches when fully extended in passion." Yep, that's our Eve-critiquing the imaginary length of the Buddha's cock while Rome burns.

Seriously, though, why revive and revisit the work of someone so grossly narcissistic and needlessly privileged right now? What was NYRB thinking? Does Babitz' other work hold deeper insights or at least better prose? I'm not sure I care enough to find out.
Profile Image for Still.
567 reviews74 followers
February 26, 2023
There isn’t a damn thing wrong with this loosely connected series of memoirs masquerading as essays on Hollywood if you enjoy reading this type of thing.

If you enjoy reading rewrites of diary entries written by a precocious 16 year old and then rewritten by the author while in her twenties then this is your bowl of inanities.

I was expecting Didion-esque essays on the immaculately fit, perfectly tanned underbelly of Hollywood celebrities before they became icons on celluloid but all I got was aliases.

One chapter in particular chapped my hide: page 123, an unnumbered chapter titled “Rosewood Casket”.

After some silly filler about her mother’s favorite song and the Vatican, Eve tells us, “ His importance in my life is not that of a friend, a lover and hardly even an acquaintance- he was a clock, an alarm clock that aroused me from sameness.
Heavy, right?

In this chapter Eve is talking about someone she calls “James Byrns”. He dresses like a cowboy and digs rhinestones. Simply mad about those rhinestones. He’s living off a trust fund, he’s started a band where he sings, plays guitar badly, and writes songs. It’s some kind of Hollywood cowboy band.

Oh but he’s such a vision, such masculine perfection but soon he will be perverted by the influence of “Jack Hunter”. A hell-for leather, heavy imbiber of strange liquor and weirder drugs, THE corrupter of Eve’s “vision”.

Turns out this chapter is about Gram Parsons and Keith Richards. I had to do an internet search for an hour to fill in the blanks. I’m a Gram Parsons fan. I’m a Keith Richards fan. Why didn’t she just use their proper names?

This “memoir” is filled with similar frustrations… who’s that? It’s all a flu-like bout of the worst simpering frustrations and L. A. turn-arounds and dead-ends covered in ivy and dead flower attempts at poetry. The young lady is simply dedicated to everything Southern California, a gauzy, wistful mist clouds her true vision and she settles on youthful memories of a Los Angeles of the 50s and early to mid 60s… pre-Manson. Except for that odd out of time portrayal of the young Gram Parsons and Keith Richards which would have occurred sometime in the late 60s - early 70s.

Look- this is a perfectly acceptable book for a sixteen year old girl to read. It might even offer inspiration for that young girl to become a writer herself. It just wasn’t for me.

Why did I plod on to the final pages? God only knows and She only talks in Her sleep.

Now I’m gonna go fire one up. 🔥
Profile Image for Suzanne.
422 reviews213 followers
September 3, 2019
This collection of stories is uneven, and I should probably only give it 3 stars, but there are many wonderful moments that I enjoyed too intensely to give it only 3, so it gets 4.

I am an Eve Babitz fan from way, way back. How could I not be, she loves L.A. with such a pure and innocent passion, the way I used to before things got so complicated-- as they will in any long-term relationship. (Then it becomes a more mature love where you see all the warts and have to reconcile all the inevitable disappointment and frustrations, not to mention the money issues.)

This is one of her earlier books, I believe the first full-length one, and the voice of her first-person stories, which I have always found delightful, is not as refined and controlled as in her later books. Here the very casual conversational style can sometimes veer into rambling which seems to prefer flourishes to coherence. She is, always, a girl very much concerned with style – in language, in clothes, in dance. In this debut, she had not yet achieved the point where style becomes substance. But this is apparent in only a few of the stories.

“Eve’s Hollywood” is a collection of short stories (some very short, one or two pages) about her growing up in Hollywood in the 1960s and ‘70s amid artists and musicians (her father was a movie studio musician and her godfather was Igor Stravinsky).

On a personal level, there seemed to be a real synchronicity going on for me while I read this book. In one story she mentions going to Ojai. I was then packing to make my first-ever trip to Ojai. The week before, I had a business appointment in mid-city L.A. , was searching for some lunch and stopped in at Papa Christos Greek Market and Deli, just because I passed it, where I had not been for over 15 years. The next day, I reach the story “Santa Sofia” wherein Eve tells of her family’s visits to the Greek deli “at Normandie and Pico.” (Not a Greek enclave as it once was, this is now a pretty gritty neighborhood, full of severely impoverished Central America immigrants and vicious gangs. But the lamb gyros are so worth the risk.)

And I happened to be reading, simultaneously, “Waiting for the Sun: A Rock and Roll History of Los Angeles,” by Barney Hoskyns where Eve is quoted throughout, having been a part of that scene in the ‘60s and ‘70s. A footnote in a chapter about Gram Parsons alerted me to the fact that the story “Rosewood Casket” in “Eve’s Hollywood” was a “pseudo-fictional depiction” of the relationship between Gram Parsons and Keith Richards. Oh, was that what that was about! I had to go and read it again.

“The Choke” was one of my favorite stories. Here Eve recounts her impressions, as a 13-year-old middle-class Jewish girl, of the mysterious and seemingly glamorous “Pachucos” in her school (defined as anyone with a Mexican accent). Her fascination with this other culture within her high school, so foreign, so dangerous, had its origins in her love for anything stylish, and she found their style irresistible. In her innocence, she believes their lives are “real” because they carry knives, steal, fight and get expelled. But the real draw was their clothing and The Choke, a dance that was “enraged anarchy posed in mythical classicism,” and “so abandoned in elegance it made you limp with envy. ” Her several-paragraph description of the details and nuances of this dance made me hear the music and feel the attitude of these dancers who could conjure up the precision and drama of a bull-fight. Eve learns about racial discrimination here too, when the “washed-out” white girls in their cotton circle skirts, though vastly inferior, would win dance contests, ”no matter how obvious it was.”

“The Polar Palace” is set in the local ice skating rink and is about the first time someone let the teenaged Eve know that it was okay to like what she liked, rather than what she was supposed to like. (I know 50-year-olds who still don’t get this concept.)

“The Sheik” is wonderful for its descriptions of the extraordinarily beautiful but dumb girls at Hollywood High who wielded enough power over students and teachers alike to throw things into chaos on a regular basis. “There were 20 of them who were unquestionably staggering and another 50 or so who were cause for alarm, or would have been in a more diluted atmosphere.” The beauty-as-power theme is a lesson learned, but not resented. It made life more interesting, and Eve is nothing if not an appreciator of beauty for its own sake. There are lovely moments too relating a teenager’s awareness of being in a special time and space during a SoCal summer: “. . . the sea was one long wave to be ridden in, our skins were dark, and time even stopped now and then and let things shimmer since time, too, is affected by beauty and will stop sometimes for a moment.” I love the rhythms of the last paragraph, a great example of Eve’s style that I enjoy so much.

“Now, no one will sit, staring into Persia—now when it’s raining. The Sheik is extinguished by dark skies and forecasts. And now it’s almost Christmas, an impatiently suffered imposition tolerated only until the clear hot skies return with shining palms, and the beautiful, scornful eyes of the new 20 gaze out of the windows of Hollywood High.”

“The Landmark” refers to two: The Landmark Motel where Janis Joplin O’D’d and the church at Olvera Street, the premise being, if only Janis had gone to Olvera Street that Sunday, instead of staying in her room to shoot up. There she would have found the world’s best taquitos and Mexican families enjoying a day out, “where Catholic mothers dress their daughters to look like the pompoms they put on the cars of the just-married couples. The little girls could be floated camellias, angels.” Eve recalls one Easter Sunday when she went “just to bask in the gentle mob and wonder over those angelic little girls, four years old, dressed in lilac organdy with flowers in their braided hair, or mint green silk, or pink fluffy ruffles with white lace and their little black patent leather shoes with the straps and white socks. How beautiful they are, their faces like Fra Filippo Lippi’s and their little gloved hands, how completely beautiful . . . “

Claiming that going to Olvera Street requires a leisurely drive down Sunset Blvd. -- “taking the freeway when you’re on your way to get a taquito for 45 cents is like taking a jet to go visit your cat, the texture’s all wrong” --she paints a picture of the working class east end of Sunset, ambling through the “hills and flowers and the car part places.” Yeah, Janis should have done that.

And the story about Rosie the Cat, I had to call my mother and read her the whole thing. But then, we like cats.

I don’t know if this collection is the best introduction to Eve Babitz for the average novice. I like her “Slow Days, Fast Company “the best. Perhaps start there and come back to this one. But anyone with a certain appreciation for Los Angeles, past or present, could find much to enjoy here.

Profile Image for leah.
264 reviews1,832 followers
September 16, 2021
i love eve babitz but unfortunately, i didn’t like this as much as i thought i would, or as much as the other 2 books from her that i’ve read. i enjoyed some parts of it, but i found some of the essays a chore to read and kind of just wanted the book to be over. also some of the comments in this definitely haven’t aged well. i’m still interested in checking out some of babitz’s fiction though.
Profile Image for Sian Lile-Pastore.
1,174 reviews146 followers
June 21, 2017
I could read stuff like this all day! Little snippets of a fabulous life lived in 70s LA. She brings the whole time period alive writing about Jim Morrison, books, taquitos, weed, the Watts towers and lots of fabulous arty people. I'm buying everything she's ever written.
Profile Image for Jane.
Author 5 books11 followers
August 21, 2017
Old unreleased Lana Del Rey songs
Profile Image for Tosh.
Author 12 books610 followers
September 23, 2015
Everyone who has resided in Los Angeles for a long time, has a need to put their identity on this landscape. This is a book about Hollywood, among other things, but it is not just Hollywood, it is "Eve's Hollywood." The author, Eve Babitz, is a local legend in my version of Los Angeles. She is known in the world of the artists who live and work here, as well as a friend to the musicians who transformed this city into a world that is totally recognizable, but still a subjective landscape. I recognize many things in the book as mine as well. Especially when she talks about films like "Lawrence of the Arabia" and downtown L.A. Mexican food. It is not obvious to me if this book is a work of fiction or a memoir in parts. I get the impression that perhaps the original source of this book may have been a column she was writing - I have a faint memory of her byline in an underground paper, but that could be my memory playing tricks on me. On the other hand, and most important, this is an excellent book on Los Angeles culture - and although, I'm about 12 years younger than her, I can clearly remember the same sites, food, and culture as her. A very accurate book on that account, and surely a must for those who read or collect books on or about Los Angeles. Eve is equally a part of another refined world, due to her parents - her dad for instance, was a studio musician who was close to Igor Stravinsky. So one gets the 1940s bo-ho life as well as the world of rock n' roll and the visual arts. Nevertheless, the book is truly about Eve and how she deals with her city of choice - with some reference to Rome as well. Los Angeles as a place but also as a state of mind or being. I can really relate to this book.
Profile Image for Andrew.
1,972 reviews687 followers
December 8, 2020
I deeply regret how late it was that I came around to Eve Babitz, whom I have fully placed in my canon of what I call the School of California Bitches – those unapologetic mid-century grandes dames of the West Coast, mistresses of the virtuoso insult in nonfiction: Joan Didion, Pauline Kael, M.F.K. Fisher, Jessica Mitford, and now you too Eve Babitz. A gorgeous memoir of a time ensconced in memory, when you could dip your toes in the pool while splitting a bottle of Wild Turkey with Harry Dean Stanton and Gram Parsons, Anna Karina swimming past, and like Hemingway's Moveable Feast, if you didn't already wish you were there, now you do.
Profile Image for Kaya.
246 reviews51 followers
May 17, 2022
Eve, you’re insufferable!

The name-dropping. I’m here like who? Should I know who this is? Do I have to remember this name for later? The exhaustion I felt could only be compared to attending a cocktail party where you don’t know anyone, but you make an effort to mingle, and can’t brave another social event for the length of time it takes to watch all ten seasons of Friends.

This was such an exhausting read. A series of minor personal events told flippantly, without anything rewarding one’s time spent reading about them. I’ll give her credit though for busting the biography genre wide open. She inspires me to write about my own experiences with a little more color.
Profile Image for Bloodorange.
660 reviews182 followers
October 10, 2022
I did not quite get the hype - maybe because I neither a bohemian nor a party girl IRL. Some of the pieces felt really nice while I was reading them, but not enough to leave a lasting impression.
Profile Image for jan.
72 reviews5 followers
March 23, 2022
if i was an old hollywood muse, all of my problems would be gone
Profile Image for Angelina Zahajko.
63 reviews3 followers
July 22, 2022

Eve Babitz is a beloved author and socialite who is best known for her witty and authentic musings on LA in the 60s and 70s within the upper echelons of artistic society there. She is largely put up there with Joan Didion as a bold and, most importantly, feminine voice, who authentically portrays women's problems and experiences at a time dominated by men's thought and literature. Her voice is one that dances off the page and reads as if you are at the morning-after brunch gossip sesh and not reading ink on paper. She was a great loss to the literary community and she inspired many of today's great female voices.

I still believe those things - but I do not think this memoir is a reflection of that.

Discombobulated and saying so much while saying nothing at all, Eve's Hollywood is a retelling of what it was like to grow up and be a teenager in 1960s LA, "the cultural wasteland of the West". While Babitz is the daughter to famous artists, placing her well within the celebrity culture of the time, she positions herself as an outsider, a black sheep, and commentates on her upbringing accordingly.

This memoir is generally well-regarded, which makes me think that perhaps I just don't have that parasocial relationship that would allow me to care or connect with these stories. Because, from my vantage point of having never read Babitz, I found that every story felt very hollow and disconnected. Additionally, Babitz' choice to adopt a non-linear narrative style made this book very hard to engage with because it would go from talking about gang members and Chicano culture in LA to a short essay dedicated to what her hairspray smelled like. Regarding the latter, I will admit that her writing style is delicious and I could eat up pretty much anything she was saying; but after 50 pages of being delivered nothing of real substance for me to sink my teeth into, I found that not even her narrative voice could save my dull reading experience.

That said, I will say that I really enjoyed her commentary on LA as a "cultural wasteland"; rather than conforming to the stereotype, she presents LA as a place of innovation and artistry and critiques those on the East who couldn't see that beauty. As an LA hater myself, it was nice to hear the other side of the argument from someone who holds Hollywood so dear.

I never DNF books, because I am hopelessly optimistic that books will always "get good" even if that is within the last 30 pages. Even if they don't get good, I am always a staunch believer in reading things you don't agree with or enjoy to make you a better thinker and a more intellectual reader. But as each essay passed and left me with barely a morsel to grab on to, I could feel my eyes glazing over and realized that, if I didn't put this book down, I was going to be sent into a reading slump - something we cannot do during hot book summer! So, Eve's Hollywood has been inaugurated into the sparse DNF shelf.

I look forward to reading her fiction - I have Slow Days, Fast Company on hold in the library and am eagerly anticipating how her incredible, lyrical voice translates into a different genre. That said, if you want to read non-fiction about high society in LA, go give Joan Didion a call (IMO, please don't hate me).
Profile Image for Andy.
Author 14 books136 followers
May 31, 2020
This is a review of the audiobook edition of Eve Babitz’ legendary memoir, Eve’s Hollywood. It was very well read by Mia Barron, who bites off every word like Kirk Douglas in a shitty mood. I enjoyed her derisive tone as it served Eve’s writings perfectly. In fact, there were times when I forgot a third party was reading this work and I believed it was Babitz herself doing the reading. Well done!

While I think it’s rude to compare the work of one writer against another, I’m going to break that cardinal rule by saying that Babitz is far better at describing mid-century Los Angeles than Joan Didion. Babitz writes with humor, sex and passion, whereas Didion writes about LA in a cold manner New Yorkers like to applaud as serious writing.

What else? Eve hates that pretentious Nathaniel West. So do I. Eve loves Joyce Carol Oates. So do I. Eve hates the Rainbow Bar & Grill. So do I. I liked everything in this audiobook, and the story about setting up a meeting between Salvador Dali and Frank Zappa at a Mothers of Invention rehearsal was a fabulous anecdote. Well, what can I say? Sixties and Seventies Los Angeles, you had to be there.
Profile Image for Mary.
36 reviews27 followers
December 20, 2021
I tried. I Fucking TRIED so hard to never let it end. I have inhaled her and there is nothing left because I’ve read it all now. Everything she has written.

So beautiful Eve, Goddess of Los Angeles and all its once upon a time mystery and beauty, what am I supposed to do NOW?

Like those goddamn shrimp, I will let big tears slide down my cheeks and drive my old Mercedes out into your city. Our city. And maybe we can sit and smoke cigarettes and just be in OUR city.

Goodbye sweet Eve. I never got to smoke that cigarette and listen to the honeyed words about our City of Angels. She will miss you. Every time I smell the jasmine blooming at night I will blow you a kiss.

Bon Vivant
May 13, 1943 - December 17, 2021
Profile Image for skye.
34 reviews25 followers
December 24, 2021
‘it takes a certain kind of innocence to like la’
as always, babitz documents her life in la and beyond with such skilful beauty. it has to be said some essays stood out more than others but overall a great collection. my favourites were daughters of the wasteland, new york confidential, the chicken, the girl who went to japan and the rendezvous. what a wonderful writer who’s recent passing has been an awful loss for literature. here’s to reading more babitz in 2022.

Displaying 1 - 30 of 608 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.