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Journalist, party girl, bookworm, artist, muse: by the time she’d hit thirty, Eve Babitz had played all of these roles. Immortalized as the nude beauty facing down Duchamp and as one of Ed Ruscha’s Five 1965 Girlfriends, Babitz’s first book showed her to be a razor-sharp writer with tales of her own. Eve’s Hollywood is an album of  vivid snapshots of Southern California’s Journalist, party girl, bookworm, artist, muse: by the time she’d hit thirty, Eve Babitz had played all of these roles. Immortalized as the nude beauty facing down Duchamp and as one of Ed Ruscha’s Five 1965 Girlfriends, Babitz’s first book showed her to be a razor-sharp writer with tales of her own. Eve’s Hollywood is an album of  vivid snapshots of Southern California’s haute bohemians, of outrageously beautiful high-school ingenues and enviably tattooed Chicanas, of rock stars sleeping it off at the Chateau Marmont. And though Babitz’s prose might appear careening, she’s in control as she takes us on a ride through an LA of perpetual delight, from a joint serving the perfect taquito, to the corner of La Brea and Sunset where we make eye contact with a roller-skating hooker, to the Watts Towers. This “daughter of the wasteland” is here to show us that her city is no wasteland at all but a glowing landscape of swaying fruit trees and blooming bougainvillea, buffeted by earthquakes and the Santa Ana winds—and every bit as seductive as she is.


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Journalist, party girl, bookworm, artist, muse: by the time she’d hit thirty, Eve Babitz had played all of these roles. Immortalized as the nude beauty facing down Duchamp and as one of Ed Ruscha’s Five 1965 Girlfriends, Babitz’s first book showed her to be a razor-sharp writer with tales of her own. Eve’s Hollywood is an album of  vivid snapshots of Southern California’s Journalist, party girl, bookworm, artist, muse: by the time she’d hit thirty, Eve Babitz had played all of these roles. Immortalized as the nude beauty facing down Duchamp and as one of Ed Ruscha’s Five 1965 Girlfriends, Babitz’s first book showed her to be a razor-sharp writer with tales of her own. Eve’s Hollywood is an album of  vivid snapshots of Southern California’s haute bohemians, of outrageously beautiful high-school ingenues and enviably tattooed Chicanas, of rock stars sleeping it off at the Chateau Marmont. And though Babitz’s prose might appear careening, she’s in control as she takes us on a ride through an LA of perpetual delight, from a joint serving the perfect taquito, to the corner of La Brea and Sunset where we make eye contact with a roller-skating hooker, to the Watts Towers. This “daughter of the wasteland” is here to show us that her city is no wasteland at all but a glowing landscape of swaying fruit trees and blooming bougainvillea, buffeted by earthquakes and the Santa Ana winds—and every bit as seductive as she is.

30 review for Eve's Hollywood (New York Review Book Classics)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    ”It takes a certain kind of innocence to like L.A.” The Iconic photograph of Eve Babitz playing chess with Marcel Duchamp taken by Julian Wasser at the Pasadena Art Museum. I have always had Eve Babitz categorized in my mind as one of the “IT” girls of the 1960s/1970s. As I was doing some research on her before reading this book, I suddenly realized that I did know her without knowing her. (I actually heard an audible click in my head as the tumblers fell into place.) The iconic photograph tak ”It takes a certain kind of innocence to like L.A.” The Iconic photograph of Eve Babitz playing chess with Marcel Duchamp taken by Julian Wasser at the Pasadena Art Museum. I have always had Eve Babitz categorized in my mind as one of the “IT” girls of the 1960s/1970s. As I was doing some research on her before reading this book, I suddenly realized that I did know her without knowing her. (I actually heard an audible click in my head as the tumblers fell into place.) The iconic photograph taken by Julian Wasser of her playing chess with Marcel Duchamp is certainly one of the more famous photographs of the early 1960s. I knew it was Duchamp (76) in the picture, but it never clicked with me until I decided to read this book that the attractive young girl (20) sitting across from him was Eve Babitz. ”The photograph is described by the Smithsonian Archives of American Art as being “among the key documentary images of American modern art.” Eve mentioned in an interview that during this time she had started taking birth control and for some reason her breasts just exploded in size. She thought they were magnificent and should be immortalized. She also hoped that by participating in the photograph that she would be making her married boyfriend, Walter Hopps (31), who was the director of the Pasadena Art Museum jealous. √ Magnificent √ Immortalized √Boyfriend jealous Babitz’s parents were beautiful, talented, creative people, and like many people with symmetrical features and a desire to express themselves, they washed up on the shores of Hollywood. This is how Eve Babitz found herself going to Hollywood High, surrounded by some of the most beautiful teenagers on the planet. She was far from ugly, but she never made the top cut of those sirens who were not only breathtaking, but already gliding through life with self-assurance and poise. ”In the depression, when most of them came here, people with brains went to New York and people with faces came West.” Johnny Stompanato and Lana Turner, a fatal alliance. She is the goddaughter of the famous composer Igor Stravinsky. Her parents were connected well enough that as Eve was growing up she was frequently in the same room, at the same dining table, sitting by a pool, or at the same party as famous writers, artists, actors, and musicians. One of my favorite stories from the book was when she was picked up from a party at age 14 by this handsome Italian man. I was surprised, not shocked, at the conclusion of the evening, but the real kicker came a year later when she saw his picture in the paper and for the first time realized the man from the party was Johnny Stompanato. He was a mobster dating Lana Turner and was suffering from bouts of jealous rage. He even threatened Sean Connery, Turner’s co-star, with a gun. Connery, in true Bond fashion, grabbed his wrist, bent his arm back, and disarmed him. I’ve done Eve a disservice over the years, thinking of her as just a society girl. She certainly did have a lot of fun, but she wasn’t just a famous pretty face. She started out her career as an artist for a record studio. She designed album covers for Linda Ronstadt, The Byrds, and Buffalo Springfield. She wrote short stories that were published in Esquire, Rolling Stone, and Vogue. She also wrote four books. Cover art designed by Babitz. All of that was somewhat overshadowed by the attention of the media regarding her liberal views about sexuality. She was romantically involved with Jim Morrison, Steve Martin, and Harrison Ford, just to name a few. One could get the impression she was famous for just being the plus one. Books are a major part of her life. She states in this book that Dombey and Sons actually saved her life when her depression was putting her on the verge of suicide. She loaths Nathaniel West because she feels he paints a bleak and harsh view of Los Angeles without giving the city credit for what makes it great. She doesn’t apologize for the culture in California, but she does share some very fond memories of why she finds the city so amazing and so undervalued. She knew Bobby Beausoeil who was a talented upcoming musician until he was recruited and “brainwashed” by Charles Manson. Bobby’s good looks were used by Manson to lure attractive women into “the family”. Because of Bobby’s glumness, Eve and her friends always called him Bummer Bob. Thinking about the fact that Eve actually spent the night under the same roof with Bummer Bob on more than one occasion, although she does make it clear that she never had sexual relations with him, has to produce an involuntary shiver from time to time when she contemplates his role in the Manson murders. The narrative of this book is rambling. She jumps backwards and forwards in time as effortlessly as a circus performer on a trampoline. Many of the chapters are vignettes, mere impressions of a moment. One of the shortest ones was on Cary Grant. ”I once saw Cary Grant up close. He was beautiful. He looked exactly like Cary Grant.” Bret Easton Ellis is a big fan of her subject matter and her style. She is writing about the mothers and fathers that spawned the generation that Ellis writes about in Less than Zero. Eve’s California generation was self-indulgent, self-absorbed, bored, too rich, too pretty, and self-destructive, but the children of the 1980s took those negative tendencies and expanded them into an art form of how to squander an infinite amount of opportunities. If you only like books with a linear narrative, this is not a book for you. If you don’t like people who name drop (you might have a few issues you need to discuss with your therapist), you won’t like this book. There are times in the book where I wish she had dropped the name, but for discretion purposes she decided to withhold it. Oh, and by the way, people aren’t asked to write books, especially Hollywood memoirs, who don’t KNOW people. If you want to know what it was like to make out with Jim Morrison...sorry she didn’t say a peep. If you are looking for a refreshing memoir about Hollywood and all the satellite people orbiting around the entertainment business, then this is a book that you might find, like me, to be a guilty pleasure. I want to thank NYRB for putting this book back in print. Once this book went out of print, it was almost impossible to find at a reasonable price. Eve Babitz Unfortunately, Eve Babitz is not writing for publication anymore. She had a horrible accident when ash from the cigar she was smoking set fire to her skirt, leaving her with third degree burns over half of her body. Because she didn’t have health insurance, people she had known as lovers, friends, and acquaintances all donated money to make sure she received the care she needed. I hope she does find the will to write again, one more book, a summation of a life of being almost famous. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at: https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    My essay about Eve Babitz & this book for the Chicago Tribune: Few things make me shake my head with greater incredulity that when someone says something to the effect that the market rewards those who most deserve it (for their obvious talent, for their skill at competition, for their meeting of a demand, etc.). That kind of blind belief that the cream magically and meritocratically rises to the top is frustrating in any context, including an aesthetic one. Historically and currently, the liter My essay about Eve Babitz & this book for the Chicago Tribune: Few things make me shake my head with greater incredulity that when someone says something to the effect that the market rewards those who most deserve it (for their obvious talent, for their skill at competition, for their meeting of a demand, etc.). That kind of blind belief that the cream magically and meritocratically rises to the top is frustrating in any context, including an aesthetic one. Historically and currently, the literary field is crowded with figures who are nowhere near as recognized and read as their work would seem to merit. One such author whose work I've fallen into a deep fascination with over the past year and a half is the Los Angeles-based prose writer Eve Babitz, whose debut memoir-in-essays, "Eve's Hollywood," came out in 1974, when she was 31. It is full, as she puts it, of moments "of perfume where everything (is) gone except for the dazzle." Everything I've read of hers — from that book to her autobiographical story collection "Slow Days, Fast Company: The World, The Flesh, and LA: Tales" to the autobiographical novel "Sex and Rage" — has been dazzling (even though it hasn't always been easy to track down, but more on that later). As her titles indicate, Babitz mixes high culture and low life with brainy-sexy ease. Her tone is unfailingly sophisticated, ironic, intelligent, and above all fun and funny and saturated with joie de vivre even when the material itself gets dark, which is often. There's plenty of drugs, out-of-control parties, cruel men and bad sex alongside the free love and surfing and taquitos and loving portraits of her family and her irascible cat. She's a genius prose stylist with a glamorous, gossipy and winsome voice. But while she's having a bit of a revival at the moment, thanks to a Vanity Fair piece by Lili Anolik that came out in February 2014, and the New York Review Books' reissue of "Eve's Hollywood" in October, she still seems criminally underrated. At DePaul University, where I teach, practically all of my savvy English and Creative Writing students know, admire and imitate Joan Didion. As well they should. But to a person, none has ever heard of Babitz. For that matter, most people I know have never read her (though they might be getting sick of my constantly encouraging them to do so). And if Didion is a rare example of someone whose reputation does seem commensurate with her astonishing skill (anecdotal support for those "the market sorts itself out" types), then Babitz is a tally mark for my side, which says that good stuff often sinks unjustly out of sight. If heavenly Joan Didion is, in some sense, the moon of the West Coast-inflected prose writing world, cool and wry, dry and fashionably detached, then Babitz is the sun, hot and bright, excessive and hilarious, and they both write about California — and most things, really — incredibly well. Sadly, unlike Didion, many of Babitz's seven books have been languishing out of print for years, though if you're lucky you can find them in your local library or scoop them up used. (Also sadly, in 1997, Babitz was injured when she was smoking and ash fell onto her skirt, catching fire and causing third-degree burns over half her body; since then, she's become a semi-recluse.) Fortunately, 2015 is a decent year for getting into her work, since you can get "Eve's Hollywood" as well as her 1982 novel "L.A. Woman," which Simon and Schuster reissued in October as well. If you do get a hold of them, in addition to taking the so-called market into your own hands, you'll have the pleasure of hearing her tales of bohemian Southern California in the 1960s and '70s among artists, rock stars, movie producers, starlets, jetsetters and millionaires. As voluptuous and chaotic as their milieus often are, these books are not without discernment and critique. With their beautiful structures and sterling syntax, they are books by someone who clearly loves life and who knows how to convey both the life and the love.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Barry Pierce

    In Nathanael West's celebrated novel of Hollywood, The Day of the Locust, Eve Babitz sees nothing but an unfair diatribe against her beloved hometown of Los Angeles. Babitz often hears of Hollywood being described as a 'wasteland', a fake town full of fake people where even the greenery is plastic. In Eve's Hollywood she refutes that myth. Babitz had a highly privileged upbringing, her father was a violinist who worked on movie scores for Fox and her mother was an artist. Stravinsky was her godfa In Nathanael West's celebrated novel of Hollywood, The Day of the Locust, Eve Babitz sees nothing but an unfair diatribe against her beloved hometown of Los Angeles. Babitz often hears of Hollywood being described as a 'wasteland', a fake town full of fake people where even the greenery is plastic. In Eve's Hollywood she refutes that myth. Babitz had a highly privileged upbringing, her father was a violinist who worked on movie scores for Fox and her mother was an artist. Stravinsky was her godfather, seriously. She became one of the most famous 'It girls' of 60s and 70s LA and knew everyone from Jim Morrison to members of the Manson Family. Eve's Hollywood is a part-memoir and part-novel of Babitz's early life and her attempt at a vindication for her beloved childhood home of Hollywood. Nobody can write an opening line like Eve Babitz. Just take some of these examples: 'Death, to me, has always been the last word in people having fun without you.' and 'The cat I had most of my adult life so far committed suicide last summer and we buried her under the apricot tree in back of my parents' house.' Just dazzling. Babitz is like if Joan Didion had a sense of humour. However, whilst all of the vignettes that make up this collection are fascinating insights into Babitz' life, there doesn't seem to be any common connecting factor threading them all together. Reading this book is like hopping along the stepping stones of Babitz' memories and not stopping until you reach dry land. Everything seems to crash together and there is no semblance of a structure or timeline. Thus reading this book can be quite a disorientating experience. Much like listening to Stravinsky actually. This book's raison d'être is to show the world that Hollywood is not a wasteland. Does Babitz succeed in this? Most definitely. Eve's Hollywood is an oasis of culture and effervescence that makes New York look like Cripple Creek, Colorado. Eve's Hollywood gives us a fascinating account of 60s LA from the woman who was at the centre of everything.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Marie-Therese

    I suppose this might have some minor documentary value as a roman à clef for those interested in this period and locale but its value as literature is so slight that if you look sideways it vanishes. Babitz, who describes herself as a "tall, clean California Bardot with messy hair..." is consistently vapid and narcissistic-apparently interested in things only as they relate to her and her appetites for celebrity, sex (mostly with much older men), booze, and drugs. Her take on the Watts Riots is I suppose this might have some minor documentary value as a roman à clef for those interested in this period and locale but its value as literature is so slight that if you look sideways it vanishes. Babitz, who describes herself as a "tall, clean California Bardot with messy hair..." is consistently vapid and narcissistic-apparently interested in things only as they relate to her and her appetites for celebrity, sex (mostly with much older men), booze, and drugs. Her take on the Watts Riots is basically name-dropping and hippies and their interest in Eastern religions elicits this deathless bit of maundering:"But Eastern religions, all that Hindu junk everyone sank into, that piece of total shit which said The Answer lay somewhere in a religion in which they actually named people "Untouchables." I mean, we all know there are some untouchables, but to name people like that seems true crassness of unredeemable proportions...Buddhism with that fat guy in a lotus position was faintly pornographic because I always wondered what his cock could ever be like in all that flab. No wonder he didn't "have women." His cock was probably two inches when fully extended in passion." Yep, that's our Eve-critiquing the imaginary length of the Buddha's cock while Rome burns. Seriously, though, why revive and revisit the work of someone so grossly narcissistic and needlessly privileged right now? What was NYRB thinking? Does Babitz' other work hold deeper insights or at least better prose? I'm not sure I care enough to find out.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    This collection of stories is uneven, and I should probably only give it 3 stars, but there are many wonderful moments that I enjoyed too intensely to give it only 3, so it gets 4. I am an Eve Babitz fan from way, way back. How could I not be, she loves L.A. with such a pure and innocent passion, the way I used to before things got so complicated-- as they will in any long-term relationship. (Then it becomes a more mature love where you see all the warts and have to reconcile all the inevitable This collection of stories is uneven, and I should probably only give it 3 stars, but there are many wonderful moments that I enjoyed too intensely to give it only 3, so it gets 4. I am an Eve Babitz fan from way, way back. How could I not be, she loves L.A. with such a pure and innocent passion, the way I used to before things got so complicated-- as they will in any long-term relationship. (Then it becomes a more mature love where you see all the warts and have to reconcile all the inevitable disappointment and frustrations, not to mention the money issues.) This is one of her earlier books, I believe the first full-length one, and the voice of her first-person stories, which I have always found delightful, is not as refined and controlled as in her later books. Here the very casual conversational style can sometimes veer into rambling which seems to prefer flourishes to coherence. She is, always, a girl very much concerned with style – in language, in clothes, in dance. In this debut, she had not yet achieved the point where style becomes substance. But this is apparent in only a few of the stories. “Eve’s Hollywood” is a collection of short stories (some very short, one or two pages) about her growing up in Hollywood in the 1960s and ‘70s amid artists and musicians (her father was a movie studio musician and her godfather was Igor Stravinsky). On a personal level, there seemed to be a real synchronicity going on for me while I read this book. In one story she mentions going to Ojai. I was then packing to make my first-ever trip to Ojai. The week before, I had a business appointment in mid-city L.A. , was searching for some lunch and stopped in at Papa Christos Greek Market and Deli, just because I passed it, where I had not been for over 15 years. The next day, I reach the story “Santa Sofia” wherein Eve tells of her family’s visits to the Greek deli “at Normandie and Pico.” (Not a Greek enclave as it once was, this is now a pretty gritty neighborhood, full of severely impoverished Central America immigrants and vicious gangs. But the lamb gyros are so worth the risk.) And I happened to be reading, simultaneously, “Waiting for the Sun: A Rock and Roll History of Los Angeles,” by Barney Hoskyns where Eve is quoted throughout, having been a part of that scene in the ‘60s and ‘70s. A footnote in a chapter about Gram Parsons alerted me to the fact that the story “Rosewood Casket” in “Eve’s Hollywood” was a “pseudo-fictional depiction” of the relationship between Gram Parsons and Keith Richards. Oh, was that what that was about! I had to go and read it again. “The Choke” was one of my favorite stories. Here Eve recounts her impressions, as a 13-year-old middle-class Jewish girl, of the mysterious and seemingly glamorous “Pachucos” in her school (defined as anyone with a Mexican accent). Her fascination with this other culture within her high school, so foreign, so dangerous, had its origins in her love for anything stylish, and she found their style irresistible. In her innocence, she believes their lives are “real” because they carry knives, steal, fight and get expelled. But the real draw was their clothing and The Choke, a dance that was “enraged anarchy posed in mythical classicism,” and “so abandoned in elegance it made you limp with envy. ” Her several-paragraph description of the details and nuances of this dance made me hear the music and feel the attitude of these dancers who could conjure up the precision and drama of a bull-fight. Eve learns about racial discrimination here too, when the “washed-out” white girls in their cotton circle skirts, though vastly inferior, would win dance contests, ”no matter how obvious it was.” “The Polar Palace” is set in the local ice skating rink and is about the first time someone let the teenaged Eve know that it was okay to like what she liked, rather than what she was supposed to like. (I know 50-year-olds who still don’t get this concept.) “The Sheik” is wonderful for its descriptions of the extraordinarily beautiful but dumb girls at Hollywood High who wielded enough power over students and teachers alike to throw things into chaos on a regular basis. “There were 20 of them who were unquestionably staggering and another 50 or so who were cause for alarm, or would have been in a more diluted atmosphere.” The beauty-as-power theme is a lesson learned, but not resented. It made life more interesting, and Eve is nothing if not an appreciator of beauty for its own sake. There are lovely moments too relating a teenager’s awareness of being in a special time and space during a SoCal summer: “. . . 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.” I love the rhythms of the last paragraph, a great example of Eve’s style that I enjoy so much. “Now, no one will sit, staring into Persia—now when it’s raining. The Sheik is extinguished by dark skies and forecasts. And now it’s almost Christmas, an impatiently suffered imposition tolerated only until the clear hot skies return with shining palms, and the beautiful, scornful eyes of the new 20 gaze out of the windows of Hollywood High.” “The Landmark” refers to two: The Landmark Motel where Janis Joplin O’D’d and the church at Olvera Street, the premise being, if only Janis had gone to Olvera Street that Sunday, instead of staying in her room to shoot up. There she would have found the world’s best taquitos and Mexican families enjoying a day out, “where Catholic mothers dress their daughters to look like the pompoms they put on the cars of the just-married couples. The little girls could be floated camellias, angels.” Eve recalls one Easter Sunday when she went “just to bask in the gentle mob and wonder over those angelic little girls, four years old, dressed in lilac organdy with flowers in their braided hair, or mint green silk, or pink fluffy ruffles with white lace and their little black patent leather shoes with the straps and white socks. How beautiful they are, their faces like Fra Filippo Lippi’s and their little gloved hands, how completely beautiful . . . “ Claiming that going to Olvera Street requires a leisurely drive down Sunset Blvd. -- “taking the freeway when you’re on your way to get a taquito for 45 cents is like taking a jet to go visit your cat, the texture’s all wrong” --she paints a picture of the working class east end of Sunset, ambling through the “hills and flowers and the car part places.” Yeah, Janis should have done that. And the story about Rosie the Cat, I had to call my mother and read her the whole thing. But then, we like cats. I don’t know if this collection is the best introduction to Eve Babitz for the average novice. I like her “Slow Days, Fast Company “the best. Perhaps start there and come back to this one. But anyone with a certain appreciation for Los Angeles, past or present, could find much to enjoy here.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Britta Böhler

    Really enjoyed this collection of short pieces about (growing up in) L.A.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sian Lile-Pastore

    I could read stuff like this all day! Little snippets of a fabulous life lived in 70s LA. She brings the whole time period alive writing about Jim Morrison, books, taquitos, weed, the Watts towers and lots of fabulous arty people. I'm buying everything she's ever written. I could read stuff like this all day! Little snippets of a fabulous life lived in 70s LA. She brings the whole time period alive writing about Jim Morrison, books, taquitos, weed, the Watts towers and lots of fabulous arty people. I'm buying everything she's ever written.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    I deeply regret how late it was that I came around to Eve Babitz, whom I have fully placed in my canon of what I call the School of California Bitches – those unapologetic mid-century grandes dames of the West Coast, mistresses of the virtuoso insult in nonfiction: Joan Didion, Pauline Kael, M.F.K. Fisher, Jessica Mitford, and now you too Eve Babitz. A gorgeous memoir of a time ensconced in memory, when you could dip your toes in the pool while splitting a bottle of Wild Turkey with Harry Dean S I deeply regret how late it was that I came around to Eve Babitz, whom I have fully placed in my canon of what I call the School of California Bitches – those unapologetic mid-century grandes dames of the West Coast, mistresses of the virtuoso insult in nonfiction: Joan Didion, Pauline Kael, M.F.K. Fisher, Jessica Mitford, and now you too Eve Babitz. A gorgeous memoir of a time ensconced in memory, when you could dip your toes in the pool while splitting a bottle of Wild Turkey with Harry Dean Stanton and Gram Parsons, Anna Karina swimming past, and like Hemingway's Moveable Feast, if you didn't already wish you were there, now you do.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tosh

    Everyone who has resided in Los Angeles for a long time, has a need to put their identity on this landscape. This is a book about Hollywood, among other things, but it is not just Hollywood, it is "Eve's Hollywood." The author, Eve Babitz, is a local legend in my version of Los Angeles. She is known in the world of the artists who live and work here, as well as a friend to the musicians who transformed this city into a world that is totally recognizable, but still a subjective landscape. I recog Everyone who has resided in Los Angeles for a long time, has a need to put their identity on this landscape. This is a book about Hollywood, among other things, but it is not just Hollywood, it is "Eve's Hollywood." The author, Eve Babitz, is a local legend in my version of Los Angeles. She is known in the world of the artists who live and work here, as well as a friend to the musicians who transformed this city into a world that is totally recognizable, but still a subjective landscape. I recognize many things in the book as mine as well. Especially when she talks about films like "Lawrence of the Arabia" and downtown L.A. Mexican food. It is not obvious to me if this book is a work of fiction or a memoir in parts. I get the impression that perhaps the original source of this book may have been a column she was writing - I have a faint memory of her byline in an underground paper, but that could be my memory playing tricks on me. On the other hand, and most important, this is an excellent book on Los Angeles culture - and although, I'm about 12 years younger than her, I can clearly remember the same sites, food, and culture as her. A very accurate book on that account, and surely a must for those who read or collect books on or about Los Angeles. Eve is equally a part of another refined world, due to her parents - her dad for instance, was a studio musician who was close to Igor Stravinsky. So one gets the 1940s bo-ho life as well as the world of rock n' roll and the visual arts. Nevertheless, the book is truly about Eve and how she deals with her city of choice - with some reference to Rome as well. Los Angeles as a place but also as a state of mind or being. I can really relate to this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Erik Tanouye

    She's a good prose stylist, but it's a vapid enterprise. She's a good prose stylist, but it's a vapid enterprise.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    When I arrived in Los Angeles between Christmas and New Years in 1966, I was fully prepared to "put up with" the place while my heart remained in ... Cleveland, for God's sake! I am sad to say it took a number of years before I woke up and let the magic of the place begin to work on me. Those first few years I now regard as "the lost years." I studied film history and criticism at UCLA, saw thousands of movies, but was oblivious to the flower-scented air, redolent with night-blooming jasmine. Now When I arrived in Los Angeles between Christmas and New Years in 1966, I was fully prepared to "put up with" the place while my heart remained in ... Cleveland, for God's sake! I am sad to say it took a number of years before I woke up and let the magic of the place begin to work on me. Those first few years I now regard as "the lost years." I studied film history and criticism at UCLA, saw thousands of movies, but was oblivious to the flower-scented air, redolent with night-blooming jasmine. Now I have found a writer who has helped reconcile me to my own past: It is Eve Babitz, whose book Eve's Hollywood covers my black-out years. Eve was born in L.A. of artistic parents and lived in Hollywood, living life to the fullest -- sleeping with the likes of Jim Morrison of the Doors, artist Ed Rucha, and numerous other males known for beauty and/or brains. In one chapter, she quotes Jean Cocteau: "The privileges of beauty are enormous." Her most famous photograph is of her sitting across a chess board French artist and chess master Marcel Duchamp ... but without a stitch of clothing. It is said that Duchamp was startled by his opponent and could only say, "Alors!" Being two years older than me, Babitz writes about Southern California about he period from about 1960 to 1972, when Eve's Hollywood was published. It's all there -- the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Hollywood High School with classmates like Yvette Mimieux, Santa Sofia Greek Orthodox Cathedral, the 1971 Sylmar Earthquake, the Watts Riots, and thousands of people trying to nail down "The Answer." (Hint: There is none.) Early on, she writes:Culturally, L.A. has always been a humid jungle alive with seething L.A. projects that I guess people from other places just can't see. It takes a certain kind of innocence to like L.A., anyway. It requires a certain plain happiness inside to be happy in L.A., to choose it and be happy here. When people are not happy, they fight against L.A. and say it's a "wasteland" and other helpful descriptions.I couldn't have said it better myself. Here is this beautiful babe with brains who says it's all right. Sit back, go to Olvera Street and get some taquitos, and just gorp out.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    I feel wholly indifferent to this book but I admit that I never have had a lot of affection for/fascination with Los Angeles in the '60s. Maybe you had to be there? It is very much of a particular time and place, and has aged unevenly. The tone can be at best patronizing and at worst insufferable, and the subject matter often feels a lot more vapid and a lot less interesting than I suspect Babitz and her various admirers thought them to be. The essays that recall her teenage years at Hollywood H I feel wholly indifferent to this book but I admit that I never have had a lot of affection for/fascination with Los Angeles in the '60s. Maybe you had to be there? It is very much of a particular time and place, and has aged unevenly. The tone can be at best patronizing and at worst insufferable, and the subject matter often feels a lot more vapid and a lot less interesting than I suspect Babitz and her various admirers thought them to be. The essays that recall her teenage years at Hollywood High School prove more engaging and perceptive - highlights: The Choke, Frozen Looks, The Polar Palace, The Shiek - but her takes on celebrity, culture (counter and otherwise), and sex that might have been considered charming and wise then read as witless and hallow now.

  13. 4 out of 5

    noosha

    could not finish bc this big titty bitch is insufferable

  14. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    This is a review of the audiobook edition of Eve Babitz’ legendary memoir, Eve’s Hollywood. It was very well read by Mia Barron, who bites off every word like Kirk Douglas in a shitty mood. I enjoyed her derisive tone as it served Eve’s writings perfectly. In fact, there were times when I forgot a third party was reading this work and I believed it was Babitz herself doing the reading. Well done! While I think it’s rude to compare the work of one writer against another, I’m going to break that ca This is a review of the audiobook edition of Eve Babitz’ legendary memoir, Eve’s Hollywood. It was very well read by Mia Barron, who bites off every word like Kirk Douglas in a shitty mood. I enjoyed her derisive tone as it served Eve’s writings perfectly. In fact, there were times when I forgot a third party was reading this work and I believed it was Babitz herself doing the reading. Well done! While I think it’s rude to compare the work of one writer against another, I’m going to break that cardinal rule by saying that Babitz is far better at describing mid-century Los Angeles than Joan Didion. Babitz writes with humor, sex and passion, whereas Didion writes about LA in a cold manner New Yorkers like to applaud as serious writing. What else? Eve hates that pretentious Nathaniel West. So do I. Eve loves Joyce Carol Oates. So do I. Eve hates the Rainbow Bar & Grill. So do I. I liked everything in this audiobook, and the story about setting up a meeting between Salvador Dali and Frank Zappa at a Mothers of Invention rehearsal was a fabulous anecdote. Well, what can I say? Sixties and Seventies Los Angeles, you had to be there.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Duke Haney

    This fabled book, the first by its equally fabled writer, can't be bought anywhere, online anyway, for less than $300, and my copy was a gift from a generous friend who knew how much I craved one. On the jacket but not, interestingly, on the title page, Eve's Hollywood announces itself as "a novel," but in fact it's a collection of pieces about Los Angeles and the life lived there since birth by Eve Babitz, the goddaughter of Igor Stravinsky (who's mentioned in the book), lover of Jim Morrison ( This fabled book, the first by its equally fabled writer, can't be bought anywhere, online anyway, for less than $300, and my copy was a gift from a generous friend who knew how much I craved one. On the jacket but not, interestingly, on the title page, Eve's Hollywood announces itself as "a novel," but in fact it's a collection of pieces about Los Angeles and the life lived there since birth by Eve Babitz, the goddaughter of Igor Stravinsky (who's mentioned in the book), lover of Jim Morrison (who isn't mentioned in the book or, as far as I can tell, fictionalized in it either), and friend of Joan Didion (who may be fictionalized in the book but, regardless, arranged for a piece by Eve Babitz to be published and so launched her writing career). The pieces are arranged in chronological order, more or less, beginning with Babitz's 1940s childhood and concluding in the early 1970s, when Eve's Hollywood appeared around the time Babitz turned thirty; but occasionally there's a piece that doesn't fit any particular timeline, like "Grammar," in which Babitz likens writing perfect sentences to drawing perfect human faces, though "real faces, even beautiful ones," such as the face of Sophia Loren, "are sometimes not 1/8 the size of the human body," as the rules of face-drawing dictate. Furthermore: In the 10th grade I took a test and got the highest grade in the city in grammar. I had learned the kind of cozy mathematical sense of well-being you can derive from a parsed sentence. I liked the way a sentence looked all Royal Familyed up with blood lines and right angles, all those reasons. But it seemed to me after looking at it that a point that parses is a point that people'd rather go to the circus to avoid seeing than hang around and appreciate. Though I can't stop saying "were" with "if" instead of "was," I've tried to let a little more of the confusion that comes with looking at Sophia Loren rather than 1/8 size of the head. That deliberate syntactical confusion could be vexing in the first half of the book, or maybe I found it difficult for other reasons to distinguish this childhood or adolescent friend or boyfriend from another, and I put the book down for a long time and finally picked it up again to read "New York Confidential," a piece that begins with an atypical subtitle: "No fictional characters." It's largely assumed that Babitz's writing is all "thinly disguised" memoir, when she played with the rules of fiction and nonfiction just as she played with the rules of grammar. In any case, once I started reading "New York Confidential," I never stumbled again, and Eve's Hollywood became one of those rare books I hated to finish. It's a crime that her work is uniformly out of print. Why isn't she better known? Vanity Fair may have nailed the reason in a profile of Babitz published in 2014: Eve is easy to dismiss because she doesn’t wear her seriousness on her sleeve. Her concerns are the seating arrangements at dinner parties, love affairs on the skids. She offers up information commonly known as gossip[, but] her casualness has depth, an aesthetic resonance. She achieved that American ideal: art that stays loose, maintains its cool, is purely enjoyable enough to be mistaken for simple entertainment. It’s a tradition that includes Duke Ellington, Fred Astaire, Preston Sturges, Ed Ruscha, and...Marilyn Monroe. Here's the Vanity Fair profile in its entirety: http://goo.gl/x2MTFD

  16. 4 out of 5

    Christopher McQuain

    ****1/2 - This book is delightfully insouciant and opinionated - the collage-like and deceptively artless- and conversational-seeming memories, observations, musings, and evocations of a smart, half-confident/half-neurotic, dyed-in-the-wool L.A. girl who seems to transmute her immersion(s) in her milieu(x) directly from her mind's roving eye onto the page. ****1/2 - This book is delightfully insouciant and opinionated - the collage-like and deceptively artless- and conversational-seeming memories, observations, musings, and evocations of a smart, half-confident/half-neurotic, dyed-in-the-wool L.A. girl who seems to transmute her immersion(s) in her milieu(x) directly from her mind's roving eye onto the page.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    The fact this book ends at Benihana is just so fucking perfect.

  18. 5 out of 5

    lapetitesouris

    3.5 if I could as some stories were just golden, and it really picked up near the end though a little too late. Most of these stories felt like they were written by a very smug & privileged teenager who couldn't stop name dropping. The stories didn't flow together well as they do in her later books & there was a lot of rambling going on. At one point she says she read Virginia Woolf's "Otello" - were all the editors high during this period, too? But there are little gems here & there (A Confusing 3.5 if I could as some stories were just golden, and it really picked up near the end though a little too late. Most of these stories felt like they were written by a very smug & privileged teenager who couldn't stop name dropping. The stories didn't flow together well as they do in her later books & there was a lot of rambling going on. At one point she says she read Virginia Woolf's "Otello" - were all the editors high during this period, too? But there are little gems here & there (A Confusing Tragedy, Prurient Interests, The Chicken, The Hollywood Branch Library, Bummer Bob, Xerox Machines, The Rendezvous) which really read wonderfully.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Deandra

    DNF appallingly bad. has made me stop reading altogether this month because of the dread I feel every time I pick up my eReader to read this. I can't finish it. Get me out of this reading nightmare. DNF appallingly bad. has made me stop reading altogether this month because of the dread I feel every time I pick up my eReader to read this. I can't finish it. Get me out of this reading nightmare.

  20. 4 out of 5

    julieta

    I loved another book by Babitz called Slow days, fast company, but this one I think is mostly repetition of the themes she touches in her stories. L.A. which is great, since I had not really read too many books about LA, but other than that, her themes are the same: Beauty, now that is an important element in her writing, all about beautiful friends, her own beauty, the beauty of strangers, the importance of it growing up in the city where so many people are actors, the beauty of movie stars, et I loved another book by Babitz called Slow days, fast company, but this one I think is mostly repetition of the themes she touches in her stories. L.A. which is great, since I had not really read too many books about LA, but other than that, her themes are the same: Beauty, now that is an important element in her writing, all about beautiful friends, her own beauty, the beauty of strangers, the importance of it growing up in the city where so many people are actors, the beauty of movie stars, etc. Shes really into it, and it gets to a point where I found it to be limiting the other things she could be speaking about, and just a bit hollow. It just seems like she's pretty smart, and by smart I mean, that her descriptions come up with images which I find surprising. But what I felt towards the end was, that I was a bit bored with the limit of her themes. School days is another one, LSD, parties, dinners, lovers, sex, etc etc. These stories, or I guess more like memories, describe a personality which I was pretty exasperated with at the end. I know narcissism can sometimes be fun in writing, but here it was just a bit depressing. And even if I always think there should be nothing too sacred to speak about in any way one wishes, her description of Buda, I mean come on! was just horrible in what it says about her.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sophie

    Confessional tales that seem to oscillate between the real and the fantastical. What actually happened? What is a mere myth? Eve's Hollywood comes under the fiction section in bookshelves but it is a series of autobiographical short stories/essays I suppose about Babitz's upbringing in LA. Her time at Hollywood High, her love of jacarandas, the sometimes eccentric characters she encountered and the many forces in her inner circle. I loved this book and read it somewhat religiously. I read it and Confessional tales that seem to oscillate between the real and the fantastical. What actually happened? What is a mere myth? Eve's Hollywood comes under the fiction section in bookshelves but it is a series of autobiographical short stories/essays I suppose about Babitz's upbringing in LA. Her time at Hollywood High, her love of jacarandas, the sometimes eccentric characters she encountered and the many forces in her inner circle. I loved this book and read it somewhat religiously. I read it and fell in love quite simply.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Well now I must read everything Babitz has written. What fun; what a proto-type for women's writing today (i.e., bloggers). What a woman's voice that took decades to be re-published probably because her point of view was so distinctly female as to be passed over. Well now I must read everything Babitz has written. What fun; what a proto-type for women's writing today (i.e., bloggers). What a woman's voice that took decades to be re-published probably because her point of view was so distinctly female as to be passed over.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ted Morgan

    Enchantingly humorous and engaging. A masterwork.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    I read this over months on the 86-bus, time enough for Babitz's LA girls to raise glinting, acid-laced walls between campaign girls and me. It was 15 min of relief. I should have known from the TOC alone, right? To the Didion Dunnes for having to be who I'm not. INGENUES, THUNDERBIRD GIRLS AND THE NEIGHBORHOOD BELLE: A Confusing Tragedy The Hollywood Branch Library -- For the record, Thunderbird girls don't read, but Babitz's list of books is perfect: "Or I’ll be talking to an English professor and h I read this over months on the 86-bus, time enough for Babitz's LA girls to raise glinting, acid-laced walls between campaign girls and me. It was 15 min of relief. I should have known from the TOC alone, right? To the Didion Dunnes for having to be who I'm not. INGENUES, THUNDERBIRD GIRLS AND THE NEIGHBORHOOD BELLE: A Confusing Tragedy The Hollywood Branch Library -- For the record, Thunderbird girls don't read, but Babitz's list of books is perfect: "Or I’ll be talking to an English professor and he hasn’t read Anthony Powell. A lot of people haven’t read Anthony Powell—it amazes me." "When I travel, there are always certain books that go with me. Colette always is right there. I wouldn’t trust myself anywhere without Earthly Paradise, what if something happened and I didn’t have it? What if the electricity went out and all my friends died? Without Colette, where would I be? For me, Colette is one of those books you open up anywhere and brush up on what to do. When she describes a luncheon alone where all she has is a view of the Bois, a plum and a chicken wing washed down with a glass of cold white wine and capped with a Caporal—you get to sit in the Bois eating a plum and a chicken wing, sipping cold white wine and lighting a black tobacco cigarette. Colette has been there since I was 9 and discovered Claudine.” "M.F.K. Fisher is becoming my favorite writer, even more favorite than Colette. I once wrote her a fan letter and told her that she was just like Proust only better because she at least gave the recipes. She wrote back that she supposed that someday someone would do their Ph.D. thesis on madelines. M.F.K. Fisher attends to ingestions and, not only that, she’s from Whittier and she grew up in L.A. when it was the farthest reaches of the civilized world. She describes eating peach pie with her father and sister in the sunset in the hills when she was about 5, which has always remained with me” “I’ve read Proust all the way through because everyone said I’d like it, but Colette’s little sketch of Proust coming into a room after everyone had thought he’d gone and already had begun gossiping about how he was a fag was only about three paragraphs and you could imply the other 9 million pages. Nevertheless, I liked the other nine million pages and recommend them to anyone in solitary confinement or otherwise out of commission. You can’t read Proust at the Laundromat. And last, I think, but not least is Henry James. When I grow up, that’s what I want to be. Henry James is just right, not too simple like Dickens, not too impossible like Proust—just right. And my cousin tells me (she’s reading that enormous biography of him that just came out) that he was always going out to dinner and to parties. So, when I grow up, I can still have fun. I don’t know about being celibate, though. I don’t want to and nowadays, it would ruin your reputation. And Henry James always understood the spirit of the times.”

  25. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Polansky

    Love is about half a sham, even in the best cases, a conscious and deliberate effort to keep the wool tight over the top of your face, but what’s the alternative, really? I did not love New York when I first moved there – that was why I wrote City Dreaming, in fact, as a deliberate effort to intoxicate myself on the metropolis and my brief time in it. The same effort will be required to become an Angeleno, to view my stay here as being valuable, as valuable as something can be in the stew of mea Love is about half a sham, even in the best cases, a conscious and deliberate effort to keep the wool tight over the top of your face, but what’s the alternative, really? I did not love New York when I first moved there – that was why I wrote City Dreaming, in fact, as a deliberate effort to intoxicate myself on the metropolis and my brief time in it. The same effort will be required to become an Angeleno, to view my stay here as being valuable, as valuable as something can be in the stew of meaninglessness which is the human experience. Which is to say, I suppose, that existence proceeds essence. I invented that. That’s mine. Anyway long and short being I especially enjoyed Ms. Babitz recollections of her childhood as the children of upper class intellectuals in a vibrant post-world Los Angeles, as well as her torrid anecdotes of being the hippest socialite in the 60’s anarchy which followed. But even if you don’t need to convince yourself you made a good decision in moving cross country to sell your soul to the Hollywood machine you would still (assuming you aren’t a fool) marvel at Babitz’s sly wit and lacerating, gleeful observations about so diverse a slate of topics as LSD and Taquitos. She’s sort of a West Coast Renata Adler, and if that doesn’t make you want to run out and read it then you need to stop reading my reviews.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dorrit

    This book and me just could not get it ON. A shame really, for all our intents and purposes, this could have been an average -above average even!- one night stand, but we ended up on two sides of the bed, me, painfully embarrassed trying not to stare or gape, him, jerking off. It's an embarrassing story but I suppose we were both responsible. I didn't bring any much knowledge of 1950s LA to the table, all I had was a ebbing intrigue of artist and celebrity circles in the revolutionary times. And This book and me just could not get it ON. A shame really, for all our intents and purposes, this could have been an average -above average even!- one night stand, but we ended up on two sides of the bed, me, painfully embarrassed trying not to stare or gape, him, jerking off. It's an embarrassing story but I suppose we were both responsible. I didn't bring any much knowledge of 1950s LA to the table, all I had was a ebbing intrigue of artist and celebrity circles in the revolutionary times. And he, with all his names like they meant something, really failed to make me care. Why don't I actually go to the beach and have your risqué summer among thugs instead. I'd get to know actual people that way. In the end, we were both solely focused on enjoying ourselves, and the other wasn't doing it for either of us. Thank you for jerking off but we will never be seeing each other again. (Can I picture another sad night where we have no other choice but to painfully endure each others company? Sure but I would like not to. Could it turn our miles differently then? Who is to know?) Subscribe to my blahg for more awful analogies, I'll send u my address so you can kill me: www.ravenandbeez.wordpress.com <3

  27. 4 out of 5

    Freesiab

    I was really surprised I didn’t enjoy this book. There were some chapters I enjoyed more than others but mostly it all sounded the same. “This one time at Chateau Marmot..” but she made an effort to sound a little street by mentioning “driving down to Watts..” at times. No doubt she had a fascinating life but for me it didn’t unfold in a compelling way. I still have a nonfiction book by her I plan to read. Maybe it will suit me better.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    New Yorker profile, okay let's go New Yorker profile, okay let's go

  29. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    Would be five stars but there was some weird xenophobia in “The Answer” that I couldn’t abide

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    I read Slow Days, Fast Company by Eve Babitz and just loved it. I was looking forward to something similar here. The problem is she spent so much of it talking about her childhood (instead of her 20s, the focus of Slow Days, Fast Company), and honestly her childhood was boring. Skipping the rest of this.

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