I picked up Eve Babitz’s first book on a whim–someone on Instagram was talking about her and her Wikipedia entry was just eye-popping, so I thought, “Let’s see about Eve.” I’m only about a third of the way through Eve’s Hollywood but so far it’s a delight. She loves L.A. the way Raymond Chandler loves it–passionately and ironically–and it shows:
But when the sky was its occasional non-smoggy, dry, clean, cloudless self, Hollywood High made sense, and even teachers would gaze quietly out at the shining palm tree tops blowing in the breeze. And when summer came and we went to the beach after a dismal morning of summer school, the palm trees high above the sea on the Palisades would look black against an aggressive sky which drained away all color of anything that was forced to silhouette against it […] We were hot, the sea was one long wave to be ridden in, our skins were dark, and time even stopped now and then and let things shimmer since time, too, is affected by beauty and will stop sometimes for a moment.
She also reminds me of M.F.K. Fisher, in the sense of someone uncannily insightful:
Gary [asked] me if I were going to the dance that night.
“No,” I said, my eyes narrowing. So it turned out that power was the quality of knowing what you liked. An odd thing for power to be.
There’s gossip about famous people and descriptions of taquitos and memories of being not-quite-popular enough in high school, and, like I said, it’s a delight. Highly recommend Eve for your summer reading.