HIDDEN LOS ANGELES: A Virtual Bookshelf by William Loving, author of CITY OF ANGLES
Before and during my research and writing of City of Angles, I immersed myself in the robust tradition of Los Angeles centric fiction that explores this region’s dark corners and hidden underbelly, including 1930s classics like John Fante’s Ask the Dust and Nathaniel West’s The Day of the Locust. There are several more recent novels that brilliantly expose the seldom seen biways of Southern California, where regular people struggle to carve out a life in this alleged palm-tree paradise.
Tobar, a former LA Times journalist like myself, investigates the vast chasms of wealth and culture in SoCal where an immigrant domestic worker finds herself caught in the middle of the fracturing marriage of her affluent Orange County employers and their small children.
Lalami paints a picture of "other Americans" much different from the ones we often see. The people at the center of this story are legal immigrants from Morocco who have settled in the high desert of Southern California. The family's fraught relations with their white rural neighbors are drawn with subtlety and nuance.
A scorchingly hilarious satire on race in America from an African American point of view, set in South Central LA. Wrapped inside Beatty's Richard Pryor-meets-Lenny Bruce shtick is an impressively broad and deep, scholarly even, understanding of our Western Civilization cultural heritage that has brought us to this point in time, for better or worse.
This is a gripping account of undocumented immigrants in LA trying to carve out a meager living, driven into homelessness where they end up camped out in the woods in Topanga, not far from an exclusive gated community. The obvious contrasts and conflicts explode into familiar Southern California horrors.
I was blown away by the gritty and sympathetic yet unsentimental realism of the scenes in LA’s Skid Row. I soon learned why that was the case: Pochoda teaches at a writing workshop in Skid Row and her depiction was based in real and deep experience. Much of the novel takes place in the hardscrabble inland desert east of LA, another region too seldom depicted in fiction.