“LANA TURNER HAS COLLAPSED!there is no snow in Hollywood”-Frank O’Hara “Agnes Moorehead is God”spray painted on a parking lot wall; it’s a matter of faith, Joe says,while unrestcontinues, bodies stacked in reefer trucks,funeral directors flown into FLAand LA breaks caserecords where parents keep kids home from school,plates of spaghetti get cold, new cars are silent in garages,scam phone calls startle the elderly,numbers never stoprising; where’s Endora where the hell are we? Continue reading Empty Parking Lot, Hollywood, CA by Mike Catherwood
Is there a chance that California’s capital is crying out in some way for its dead daughter? The only so-called “high-value star” of its show? Is that why the town—usually referenced solely as a footnote to where Didion is from—is now only being mentioned on an international scale for serving as the site of a second mass shooting in the span of a month? It’s … Continue reading This Ain’t Joan Didion’s Sacramento (And It Never Was)
East Coastians would likely balk at the term “California literature” as being an oxymoron. And yet, that’s precisely what Joan Didion carved out for herself as a genre. Yes, there were others who had written about California before her—John Steinbeck and Nathanael West come to mind (even Raymond Chandler, for the less hoity-toity)—and all just as negatively through the guise of “poetic darkness.” But none … Continue reading Is It the End or the Beginning of California Literature Now?
There aren’t many authors left whose long-awaited work you can continue to yearn for while they promise that “maybe” “one day” it will come. All of these types of writers hailed from the twentieth century (including J. D. Salinger, half-taunting his readers with the prospect of releasing his next Glass family saga every so often before finally kicking the bucket). Whereas a writer trying to … Continue reading “Is That the Blue You’re Using?”: Eve Babitz and the Undermining of the “Didion Approach” to California
I’ve lived in this coastal town north of Los Angeles for years, because everything moves slow. I can be lazy as shit and still stay ahead of the game. Decades kind of blur into each other here. Half the people are either retired or not working, so it’s easy for a gig economy guy like me to fit right in. Five years ago an ex-girlfriend … Continue reading I’ve Got My Problems by Max DeVoe Talley
Even someone as “harmless” and carefreely narcissistic as Eve Babitz might not have made it in today’s literary scene. As her resurgence reached a crescendo in 2018, with Emma Roberts touting Sex and Rage as her book club choice (oy vey) for the summer of ’17 and Counterpoint re-issuing a lesser known work called Black Swans the year after, on the heels of the rediscovered … Continue reading Eve Babitz and the Trouble With Taquitos
In an alternate universe, perhaps Joan Didion herself might have become some version of Lily Knight, the dissatisfied, cuckolding Sacramento girl who couldn’t seem to fathom how to be a good wife to the man who loved her. Without her writing talent as a ticket out of town, Didion could have easily become just another Golden State tragedy, damned to a lifetime of complacence and … Continue reading The Abandonment of California by Joan Didion: A Comparative Glance at Run River and Where I Was From