Tuesday, September 22, 2015

"Eve's Hollywood" by Eve Babitz


NYRB, 978-1-59017-890-4


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.


Original paperback edition

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