If you know who John O'Brien was, you'll know that his works are worth anyone's time. He committed suicide when he found out that his first published novel was going to be made into a feature film. And that alone should tell you how this tortured artist's viewed the "City of Angels" when he was alive. His book, "Better" captures the seductive prowess of LA, one that, just like him, has taken lives all too many. Through the viewpoint of his alcoholic protagonist, William, a resident of Hollywood Hills, this is one portrait of "Tinsel Town" you wouldn’t want to miss!
How exactly did the city of LA come to be? Was it always this grandiose and glamorous? Does it have an equally historic past like its East Coast counterpart, New York? What exactly is the story of this place they call the "City of Angels?" Well, if you're keen on finding that out, Mike Davis' "City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles" if what you should read. It's practically a history textbook about the famous city, detailing its colourful past from the early days of the settlers down to the controversial riots of the 1990s.
The reason there's such a thing as "LA Noir" is because the city used to be infested by all sorts of harrowing crimes. Mysteries that shook, not only the town but the entire country as well. A good number of them even remain unsolved to this very day. And the people affected by such tragedies often have such stunning stories to tell. One of them is James Ellroy. Having grown up in the city, he was well aware of the crimes that are often committed here. However, it wasn't until his own mother's murder did it really hit home for him. And he pours it all down in his riveting book, "My Dark Places."
LS is not a city for the faint of heart, Sure, it's a great place to visit and see iconic sights and all, but if you're planning to live here, not only will you need thicker skin but a tougher heart too. There's practically no end to how this city affects one's mind, body, and soul. And if you want a gruesome look into it, read Joan Didion's "Play It As It Lays." It centres on Maria, an aspiring actress who moved to LA from New York to further her career. She instead goes down an inevitable spiral filled with mental breakdowns, suicide, and the like.
With a protagonist named 'Nina Zero,' who wouldn't be intrigued? "Shooting Elvis" by Robert M. Eversz is the sort of crime-caper that's ripe for Hollywood adaptation. It has action, drama, and a compelling protagonist that you can't help but root for. Mary Alice Baker's life changes drastically when she delivers a package to the Los Angeles International Airport. As a result, she becomes one of the most-wanted by no-less than the FBI. She becomes Nina Zero, an anti-hero of sorts, and eventually takes matters into her own hands. And how she does so is very riveting!
It may seem that Peter Farrelly's "The Comedy Writer" is like many of his other comedies but this one has a certain depth to it. The protagonist, Henry Halloran, a Boston man born and bred, who moves to the "City of Dreams" in order to win back his girlfriend. To impress her—and to survive this city—he becomes a comedy writer and sells his screenplays to interested filmmakers, producers, and the sort. As the story goes on, he further goes down and becomes a victim of Hollywood's insufferable system. One that has taken too many careers and lives.
If you think LA and all its glamour is devoid of true life in the USA, think again! Live here is as raw and real as people from the outside might otherwise think. In it that the inequality and social disparity between the rich and the poor are entrenched in the city's culturee. "The Tortilla Curtain" by TC Boyle stands proof of that. The book highlights the lives of immigrants living and working in the "City of Angels," and how for them, it's far from an 'angelic' place. Their illegal status and social standing is shoved on their faces more often that they'd prefer, especially when they encounter the city's elite.
As much as you'd like to believe it, LA is not all Hollywood glamour and downtown coolness. It's also a nitty and gritty city with its own dark and insidious stories to tell. These great literary works prove that. However, these stories shouldn't define the city for you either!