I can’t remember where I heard of this book, and I’m not sure how it ended up in my shopping cart, but I’m so glad it did. I wound up listening to the audio version during my commute (in L.A., which is fitting), and the match of Mia Barron’s voice to Eve Babitz’s words seemed just perfect. I don’t know what Eve Babitz sounds like, but Barron did an amazing job of making me feel as if I were listening to the author.
Eve Babitz was a writer and all-around denizen of Hollywood in the 1960s and 1970s, and this book (her second) tells a series of L.A. stories that present history and culture filtered through personal experience in a way that is so much more enjoyable than this sentence would suggest. There’s some thematic overlap with Joan Didion–who Babitz knew, and it would seem odd for them not to know each other–but tonally they are very different. Didion’s focus on picking apart a milieu contrasts with Babitz’s immersion in it. The two women were both of this time and place, but lived in and moved through it very differently. Babitz’s enjoyment of her life and world is evident, even as she reveals its foibles.
Elevator pitch: Eve Babitz writes as if Joan Didion were happy.
And there you go. That’s my quarter Cannonball.