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Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology (Library of America)

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  180 ratings  ·  25 reviews
Los Angeles has always been a place of paradisal promise and apocalyptic undercurrents. Simone de Beauvoir saw a kaleidoscopic "hall of mirrors," Aldous Huxley a "city of dreadful joy." Jack Kerouac found a "huge desert encampment," David Thomson imagined "Marilyn Monroe, fifty miles long, lying on her side, half-buried on a ridge of crumbling rock."

In Writing Los Angeles,
Hardcover, First Edition, 880 pages
Published September 30th 2002 by The Library of America
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4.20  · 
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 ·  180 ratings  ·  25 reviews

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Jul 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Despite the 880-page heft of this, I could have gone another 800 pages. How I wish now I’d kept notes to facilitate my better explaining why I liked this so much, but I was too busy devouring it. This collection of writings about or set in Los Angeles --essays, short stories and novel excerpts-- from 78 different authors spanned a timeframe from Helen Hunt Jackson’s “Echoes in the City of the Angels” written in 1883, to a 1997 selection from film writer David Thomson called “Beneath Mulholland.” ...more
Jan 31, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, fiction
I picked up this book simply because one of the things I genuinely enjoyed in Aimee Bender's The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake was the fact that it was set in Los Angeles, and I mean, like, REAL Los Angeles. I am tickled when a book mentions specific streets/places/quirks of an area I know. So I started feeling kind of sad that not enough contemporary fiction is set in a real Los Angeles where people live and job and shop and eat and meet and do stuff; the most recent book I can think of off ...more
Apr 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
So much to like here! History, personal experiences, fiction and essays - fun, varied and interesting to read. I'm ordering on Kindle so it becomes part of my travel read collection - the paper version is way too much to lug around, and I know I'll want to be dipping into this one regularly.
Glen Creason
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
one of the most important books on LA history you will find
Jul 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Not always a fan of anthologies, but this one is excellent. Fantastic selections from Faulkner, Mingus, Isherwood and others. It's big! A great book to flip through and nibble at.
Hal Bodner
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
In our house, we generally read fiction. In fact, I don't think I'd ever have come across David Ulin's WRITING LOS ANGELES if it hadn't been required reading for one of my husband's English classes when he was getting his advanced degree. At the end of the term, just before he "sold back" his textbooks, this anthology caught my eye and I pulled it off the pile to place in the TBR (To Be Read) pile in my home office.

Initially, my interest was piqued by the Table of Contents which listed such old
Dec 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great (as anthologies go) for understanding how LA became LA.
May 15, 2007 rated it liked it
After many years I finally finished reading this anthology. Although it shouldn't have taken this long, to my credit, it is nearly 900 pages long. I bought this book to serve as a source of inspiration for my writing since the project I've been working on for the last 9 years takes place in Los Angeles. For the most part, the book served its purpose and I look forward to incorporating some of the notes I took into my work ahead. As you can imagine from its length, the anthology is very comprehen ...more
Oct 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
(Almost) everything I know about Los Angeles, I learned from David Ulin's anthology, Another City: Writing from Los Angeles. Highly recommend this collection of essays, short stories and poems by familiar and not-so-familar writers.

David Ulin, book critic, and former book editor of the Los Angeles Times, and a New York transplant like myself, must have come to understand as well as come to terms with this side of the country by putting this extraordinary compilation of works together. The piec
got this out to loan to a friend, who wnet on vacay, so i've been re-reading. just an incredible book with huge spectrum of writing: chandler next to fante next to eco next to hockney next to jan morris next to mfk fisher next ......................................
a true desert island book.
for ex. this is in it Ask the Dust followed immediately by this The Day of the Locust
Feb 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Cool to read about LA area through time and the words of writers. What stayed with me was the diversity of voices and the feeling of movement. I loved reading Joan Didion and Raymond Chandler on the Santa Ana winds and the effect they have on people, because experiencing those winds a few years ago was electrifying. Not tornadoes, but forceful winds that raise the risk of fire. The winds howl like La Llorona's twin and they make even strong trees kneel and keel over. The next day the aftermath m ...more
Hank Stuever
Aug 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It's a particular conceit of writers from back east (or overseas) to land in Los Angeles and start immediately explaining it, interpreting it, riffing on it -- this has always been the case. I've had this book for 10 years and I still find myself going back to it to see what others (native and visitor) had to say about the endlessly puzzling and always fantastic contradictions that form LA. If you're a writer and you find yourself in LA (or having to describe LA), keep in mind that your insights ...more
Aug 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Everyone living in LA should take a look at this book. No matter where in the mini-country we call Los Angeles you've been living, you'll learn something you didn't know before. It was fun to show my parents the photos from the architectural article and see them recognize landmarks from the 60s that don't exist anymore. The short stories from Raymond Chandler and others are fantastic. This is a perfect book to while away a month with, reading on the balcony as the California sun bakes the soil a ...more
Jan 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: school
I've only read about 30% of this book, but it being an anthology, I feel qualified to say -- this has fast become one of my favorite books in my library. All the big "California" writers are here, from Capote to Didion. I love Los Angeles. I moved here 17 years ago planning to stay for 5 at the most. The Eagles were right -- you can't really ever leave.

This book is meant to be consumed in small bits. It's perfect for picking up when you want to read something for just a few minutes. And it will
Jul 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Having grown up in Los Angeles I developed a thorough distaste for it over the years, but in the year since I've moved out of California I've delved into writers writing about the LA area and it has ignited a strange inner love and interest in LA. This collection is absolutely fantastic. I didn't read it all (it's massive), but I dipped in and around it loving everything I found. I will definitely keep my eye out for a copy to add to my personal library.
ds white
Jan 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
If you grew up in Los Angeles, like I did, than it will be a while before an anthology so sweepingly pulls this great city into a collection of sentences. It's all here, well, not all of it, but damn near and as I'm reading through this hefty anthology I never find myself wanting for something that isn't already included. For every Angelino who understands the impact of our landscape and is looking for ways to compell, argue or defend the city of angels, this is the bible.
Jan 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
I picked up this gem at a book sale for €1 and couldn't believe my luck.
Stories, articles, poems, excerpts by Angelenos, temporary residents and passers through. A must read for Angelenos and all those who love the city of angels.
John Fuller
Jul 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An amazing collection of works born out of the deserts of California.

In additional to being amazing stories, the books discusses the rise of L.A. from the dust of the desert, and how its unending thirst affected those who lived in the city (and those who ran it).
Aug 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Changed my perception of Los Angeles. A good read.
Jul 19, 2012 is currently reading it
An incredible selection of essays that really bring the history of LA alive.
Nov 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
In truth I never finished the entire book; I read about half of it, from the end to somewhere towards the middle (yes, I went backward). What I did read I very much enjoyed!
Apr 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
A nice and broadly selected anthology.
Feb 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Indispensable for those new to LA.
Gabrielle Lawrence
Jan 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Really wonderful anthology, excellent writers.
Aug 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
For someone like me who is just dipping their toe in the literary waters, this is a nice cross-section of writings covering various aspects of Los Angeles, my much-maligned hometown.
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Jul 16, 2015
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May 24, 2010
Bruna Mori
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Jul 10, 2008
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David L. Ulin is book critic, and former book editor, of the Los Angeles Times. He is the author of The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time, Labyrinth, and The Myth of Solid Ground: Earthquakes, Prediction, and the Fault Line Between Reason and Faith, selected as a best book of 2004 by the Chicago Tribune and the San Francisco Chronicle.

He is also the editor of three antholo