Dear Los Angeles : the city in diaries and letters 1542 to 2018 / edited by David Kipen.

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    • Publication Information:
      First edition.
    • Abstract:
      Summary: "David Kipen scoured the archives of libraries, historical societies, and private estates to assemble a kaleidoscopic view of Los Angeles from the Spanish missionary expeditions in the 1500s to the present day. These entries are arranged by date--January 1 through December 31--but are selected from more than three centuries of writing by those living in, or visiting, Los Angeles. Thus the entry for January 21, for example, will have an excerpt from Benjamin Hayes in 1850, F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1938, Charlton Heston in 1957, John Lennon in 1974, and a blogger in 2011. In the process, readers get a wonderful glimpse of life in this city through the ages. Profound, historical, whimsical, this rich mix of letters and diary entries marking each day of the year offers intimate flashes of life in Los Angeles over the past four centuries."--Provided by publisher.
    • Abstract:
      Summary: "A rich mosaic of diary entries and letters from Marilyn Monroe, Cesar Chavez, Susan Sontag, Albert Einstein, and many more, this is the story of Los Angeles as told by locals, transplants, and some just passing through. The City of Angels has played a distinct role in the hearts, minds, and imaginations of millions of people, who see it as the ultimate symbol of the American Dream. David Kipen, a cultural historian and avid scholar of Los Angeles, has scoured libraries, archives, and private estates to assemble a kaleidoscopic view of a truly unique city. From the Spanish missionary expeditions in the early 1500s to the Golden Age of Hollywood to the strange new world of social media, this collection is a slice of life in L.A. through the years. The pieces are arranged by date--January 1st to December 31st--featuring selections from different decades and centuries. What emerges is a vivid tapestry of insights, personal discoveries, and wry observations that together distill the essence of the city. As sprawling and magical as the city itself, Dear Los Angeles is a fascinating, must-have collection for everyone in, from, or touched by Southern California."--Dust jacket.
    • Abstract:
      Summary: "With excerpts from the writing of Ray Bradbury, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Octavia E. Butler, Italo Calvino, Winston Churchill, Noël Coward, Simone De Beauvoir, James Dean, T. S. Eliot, William Faulkner, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Richard Feynman, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Allen Ginsberg, Dashiell Hammett, Charlton Heston , Zora Neale Hurston, Christopher Isherwood, John Lennon, H. L. Mencken, Anaïs Nin, Sylvia Plath, Ronald Reagan, Joan Rivers, James Thurber, Dalton Trumbo, Evelyn Waugh, Tennessee Williams, P. G. Wodehouse, and many more"--Back of dust jacket.
    • Notes:
      Includes index.
    • ISBN:
    • Accession Number:
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Booklist Reviews 2018 November #2

Los Angeles native and book critic Kipen performed a seven-year feat of zealous, far-ranging research ("Everything good in the world comes from either librarians or their patrons.") and editing to create what he describes as "a collective self-portrait of Los Angeles." This irresistible compendium of letter and diary excerpts from an array of voices reaching back to the Spanish missionaries follows the calendar year, but each month contains entries that span decades. March 25 delivers a 1774 note by Juan Bautista de Anza, which the guide to diarists identifies as a Basque explorer and the governor of Spanish-ruled New Mexico, followed by a 1942 entry by Bertolt Brecht about having to register as an enemy alien, and a vivid 1946 dispatch by Eleanor Roosevelt. November 12 stretches from 1854 to 2016. Rapport grows with the diarists who appear throughout the book in which regular folks mix with the likes of Lillian Gish, Dalton Trumbo, Thomas Mann, Raymond Chandler, Octavia E. Butler, Christopher Isherwood, M. F. K. Fisher, and dozens more. This West Coast match to New York Diaries (2012) is lushly rewarding. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

PW Reviews 2018 September #2

The love-hate relationship between L.A. and its inhabitants comes alive in this scintillating collection of letters and diary entries. Literary critic Kipen (California in the 1930s) gathers passages from 16th-century explorers, 18th-century missionaries, 19th-century soldiers, and 20th-century writers, actors, producers, and movie business wannabes. Common themes emerge—golden climate, far-flung geography (Henry Miller: "f you want to take a walk, you get in your car"), Hollywood absurdism (P.G. Wodehouse: "they didn't want what I did, but they paid me $5,000 for something I hadn't done"), the heartbreak of creative differences (F. Scott Fitzgerald: "Oh Joe, can't the producers be wrong? I'm a good writer—honest")—and provoke wildly different reactions from the well-chosen observers quoted. The result is a Los Angeles that's good (Edgar Rice Burroughs: "I never loved any place in my life as I do this"), bad (Westbrook Pegler: "that big, sprawling, incoherent, shapeless, slobbering civic idiot"), ugly (Hart Crane: "this Pollyanna greasepaint pinkpoodle paradise"), and unique (Ryan Reynolds: "People in L.A. are deathly afraid of gluten.... You could rob a liquor store in this city with a bagel"). Readers fascinated by the town will find an engrossing trove of colorful, witty insights here. (Dec.)

Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.