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Los Angeles is the labyrinth at the end of the American Dream, a city often celebrated, often condemned—rarely understood. In this fascinating and unusual collection David Reid has gathered together the novelists, journalists, and cultural critics who could best debunk the myths, define the truths, and decipher the strange iconography of this “bronzed paradise” of fourteen million inhabitants. Here are reports and reflections on: the new Latin-American and Asian populations of South Central and the East Side and the old establishment in the West Side’s hidden hilltop enclaves; Downtown with its heavily mortgaged office towers held by Canadian and Japanese landlords; the shuttered factories, thriving sweatshops, and gerrymandered “rotten boroughs” of post-industrial L.A.; architecture from Irving Gill to Frank O. Gehry; avatars and messiahs from Krishnamurti to L. Ron Hubbard; rituals of power and abjection in Movieland; and yoga and lust in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles Times and Nation columnist Alexander Cockburn; Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz; L.A. Weeklywriters Lynell George and Rubén Martínez; novelists Carolyn See, Eve Babitz, and David Thomson; architectural historian Thomas S. Hines; and Academy Award-winning screenwriter Jeremy Larner are among those who investigate the mysteries of the city which, as Cockburn writes, is “the only megalopolis of the First World growing at a rate comparable to those supercities—Sao Paulo, Cairo, and Canton—of the Third World.”
“Splendid essays on the city that has become the capital of America and the capitol of the Third World. Carolyn See captures the tone of ‘multicultural’ L.A. brilliantly. I nominate her for mayor! The others in this volume would make excellent candidates for the Board of Supervisors—each with his or her own part of the city.” —Richard Rodriguez, author of Hunger of Memory
“No one should try to write a screenplay without reading ‘Rack’s Rules,’ Jeremy Larner’s brilliant piece is Sex, Death, and God in L.A.”
—Diane Johnson, author of The Shadow Knows, Dashiell Hammett: A Life, and Health and Happiness
“Carolyn See’s look at sex and history, culture and sensibility is brilliantly insightful, deeply touching and terrifically funny, almost all at once. And then there is David Thomson’s strange and beautiful, movie-haunted L.A., and Jeremy Larner’s wild and witty version of producer ‘morality’—all in all a wonderful book.” —Alice Adams, author of After You’ve Gone and Caroline’s Daughters