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Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology (Library of America) Hardcover – September 30, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-1931082273 ISBN-10: 1931082278 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Series: Library of America
  • Hardcover: 880 pages
  • Publisher: Library of America; First Edition edition (September 30, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931082278
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931082273
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.8 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

"The story of Los Angeles has always been, on the most basic level, the story of the interaction between civilization and nature an idiosyncratic hybrid of the urban and the elemental." The people, land, motion picture industry, and desert ecosystem and their complex interconnections form the foundation of this anthology. Together the works trace the history of Los Angeles with good writing. Editor Ulin, who frequently contributes to the Los Angeles Times and recently edited an anthology of contemporary Los Angeles poetry and prose, Another City, collects essays and excerpts from fiction, nonfiction, and poetry by over 70 writers as diverse as Mary Austin, Truman Capote, William Faulkner, Bertolt Brecht, Norman Mailer, and Joan Didion. Arranged chronologically, each selection includes a brief biography of the author that establishes his or her credentials for knowing Los Angeles at a particular time in its development. Recommended for all public libraries and academic libraries that collect writing about place. Sue Samson, Univ. of Montana, Missoula
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Los Angeles is not a city easily categorized. It's a dream factory and a nightmare landscape, an urban creation teetering on the brink of natural disaster, eternally self-renewing and all but used up. The brilliance of this anthology is in the editor's determination to showcase as many facets of L.A. as possible, warts, beauty marks, and all. In nearly 900 pages, editor Ulin presents excerpts from novels and short stories, poems, diary entries, and newspaper and magazine articles. The time span ranges from Helen Hunt Jackson's influential 1884 novel about Los Angeles' mission era, Ramona, to works from the 1990s, including D. J. Waldie's social history, Holy Land, and William T. Vollman's examination of the 1992 L.A. riots, The Atlas, both published in 1996. In between are selections from such writers as H. L. Mencken, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Truman Capote, and Tom Wolfe. And, of course, there is the opening of Raymond Chandler's Red Wind, about a hot L.A. night spiked with a Santa Ana wind: "Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks." Ulin's exemplary introduction delineates the history of L.A., reflects on what the city represents in popular culture, and analyzes the kind of writing L.A. has produced, with particular emphasis on noir, that most L.A. of forms. Each selection carries a brief, insightful introduction of its own. A stunning collection and a wonderful addition to the Library of America. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

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 anthologies: "Another City: Writing from Los Angeles," "Cape Cod Noir," and the Library of America's "Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology," which won a 2002 California Book Award. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The Nation, The New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, Black Clock, Columbia Journalism Review, and on National Public Radio's All Things Considered.

He was awarded a 2010 Southern California Independent Booksellers Association/Glenn Goldman Book Award for his work on "Los Angeles: Portrait of a City."

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Steven Kane on December 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"definitive" is a an overused adjective... but this volume is indeed just that. ulin's winning (and sometimes surprising) selection of material captures the breadth and depth of a literary milieu artfully and evenhandledly. (ulin must be uniquely well read and/or uniquely familiar with his material - some of his choices, e.g. robert towne's intro to chinatown screenplay, are fun just to consider in a potentially crusty dusty Lirbrary of America anthology). forget the heavy intellectual (and physical!) weight of this tome -- this is no door stop or boat anchor, its a joyous sojourn in the searing sun. brevity, clarity and wit!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By MICHAEL ACUNA on June 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Los Angeles has always meant/will always be/is many things to many people. Some write it off as the City of Pilates-loving, Yoga meditating, Chai Tea Consuming Crack Pots. Well, yes...it is that and so much more as exemplified in the mind expanding, colossally comprehensive, edited by David Ulin: "Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology." That so many important writers have deemed Los Angeles as appropriate subject matter, both positive and negative, only supports the notion that the City of the Angels "gets" to everyone who comes in contact with it. Some like Faulkner and Fitzgerald came to Hollywood late in their careers and left disillusioned to say the least while Nathanael West and James M. Cain thrived and wrote some of their best stuff here.
"Writing Los Angeles" is exhaustively researched and some of the expected writers are represented here: Cain, West, Ellroy, Didion but what of Simone De Beauvoir and Umberto Eco? Probably the most important thing Ulin has done is introduce us to SoCal writers we didn't know or of whom we've forgotten: D.J. Waldie or Ruben Martinez, for example.
If nothing else, Ulin has proven that Los Angeles is fertile ground for the creation of writing of the highest order. And for this, we Los Angelenos are forever in his debt.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on November 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Compiled and edited by David L. Ulin, Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology is a unique and diverse collection of fiction, poetry, essays, journalism, diaries, and more, contributed by over seventy writers (ranging from William Faulkner, M.F.K. Fisher, and Bertolt Brecht, to Ray Bradbury, Norman Mailer, and Tom Wolfe), and showcasing the "City of Angels". Through varied eyes, the teeming and diverse West Coast metropolis manifests its best and its worst during its eventful history as Writing Los Angeles explores a wide range of issues and events ranging from the post World War I economic boom to recent and nationally televised violence. A very highly recommended compendium of artistic, emotional, severe, gritty, nostalgic, and clear-eyed literary pieces, Writing Los Angeles vividly brings a city and its people to life throughout the generations.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Scott(y) on January 28, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've lived in L.A. for 17 years now, and I feel like I am still discovering the place. This book is an awesome distillation of some of the best writing about L.A. Didion, Capote, West, Faulkner, Weschler, Iyer, Bradbury, they're all here. It's my favorite book to just pick up and "read something" out of, at the moment. This one will be on my coffee table for a good long while.
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I've never been a literary anthology person. I'm not one for short stories or excerpts. But, I've been reading up on LA history to include its literary past, so Writing Los Angeles seemed a perfect match. And, for the most part it was. In near-chronological order, Writing Los Angeles provides a unique window through which LA, in all its manifestations, comes alive. Some of these manifestations are more compelling than others. I personally find the first half of LA's 20th century more interesting. Later eras and aspects thereof, not so much. But, LA is a complex and ever-changing menagerie and an anthologist certainly needs to stay true to his source. Ulin does a fine job of editing, even if my tastes don't jive with his full range of selections.

If there is a downside to this effort, it is length. I prefer weighty tomes, but I found Writing Los Angeles somewhat of a slog through the last quarter or so of its pages. No doubt, this is partially a result of my period preference, but I also found the selections less substantial as the chronology wore on. I ate up this book for 600-some pages and then fell a little bit out of love.

My love loss aside, should one desire a representative sample of LA-area literature over a wide swath of time, Writing Los Angeles probably can't be beat. It's all in there, love it or not, and its not like you can't skip around. In this, of all things considered, I find final justification for a rating of 4+ stars. With a little selective omission, you might mold this anthology into the book that you need.
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By marcia martin on September 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really appreciate recieveing this book on time and it was in perfect condition better then new condition. i really enjoy this book and is def needed for class
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