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Piecing Together Los Angeles: An Esther McCoy Reader Paperback – May 30, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


Affection isn’t a word often used to describe architecture criticism, but that’s the ruling emotion of Piecing Together Los Angeles, the first collection of the writings of California historian and critic Esther McCoy (1904-89). There’s McCoy’s affection for Los Angeles superstars like Charles Eames, Pierre Koenig and John Lautner when they were young and needed books like McCoy’s Five California Architects (1960) to give their work a backstory―and when they were old, and the world needed a reminder of their talents. Reyner Banham called McCoy “the founding mother” and said, “She has the gift of friendship...and is profoundly concerned about people... and that is one of the special strengths she brings to her architectural writing.” This book, which collects McCoy’s never-finished memoirs, essays on three generations of California architects, fiction, and retrospective essays from the 1980s, is the product of editor Susan Morgan’s affection for McCoy’s whole project. (Alexandra Lange Architectural Record)

McCoy has long been a hero among students of modern architecture in southern California, a subject scarcely defined until she came along. What has not yet been sufficiently recognized is the subdued power of McCoy's prose. There is an extraordinary delicacy in the way McCoy moves from the idea of architecture to the reality. Now, with the publication of Piecing Together Los Angeles, we can see deep into McCoy's complex imagination. (Jed Perl The New Republic)

Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: East of Borneo Books; 1St Edition edition (May 30, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615528236
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615528236
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,590,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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She is pre-Didion, pre-Bukowski, pre-Chandler. To even have one meal and conversation with Esther McCoy must have been the experience of a lifetime.

When McCoy wrote that one used to be able to walk the coastline from Zuma to Point Dume sans-suit, without running into a single other human being, you know it’s true because she did it— more than once, I’ll wager.

If you have ever lived in any portion of Los Angeles, you will weep with recognition, nostalgia, and loss from McCoy’s bohemian memoir.

My partner and I have taken turns reading sections out loud to each other.No one can imagine architecture criticism without McCoy, but it’s clear that any subject she turned her pen to, is magic.
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I ordered this and am enjoying it more than I imagined! It's pure joy to open it, dip in, read an article or two, and come back for more later. Esther McCoy is not only the mother of LA architecture, she is the mother of architecture writing. So what are you waiting for? Order it...now!
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