Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Dear Los Angeles: The City in Diaries and Letters, edited by David Kipen. Modern Library, 2018

This book has an unusual layout: there is an entry for every day of the year, but the *year* the entry is from varies from 1542 through 2018. The entries are chosen from letters and diaries. Each one is a statement about life in Los Angeles at the time. Some are from Catholic brethren who are bringing religion to the west. Some are from politicians. Some are from famous writers drawn to LA to write scripts for Hollywood. The samples may be from Gold Rush days, the Golden Age of Hollywood, the Depression, or recent days.

I have seen quite a few complaints about the format, but I really liked it. I might be bored with a time in history or with a specific writer’s work, but given a piece only a few pages long, I will read it, and learn something. I also found it very interesting to see opinions not meant for public consumption, but for only the writer’s closest friends or relatives. What I thought would have made the book better was pictures. The last 150 years –the era from which the majority of entries are from- have been documented by photography, and that would have brought things to life more. Four stars for a quick, fun read. 

I received this book from Net Galley in return for an honest review. This did not change my opinions of the book. 

1 comment:

  1. It does sound like a different and interesting format. I agree, pictures would add to the daily entries.