Los Angeles has a tantalizing hold on the American imagination. Its self-magnifying myths encompass Hollywood glamour, Arcadian landscapes, and endless summer, but also the apocalyptic undertow of riots, environmental depredation, and natural disaster. This Companion traces the evolution of Los Angeles as the most public staging of the American Dream - and American nightmares. The expert contributors make exciting, innovative connections among the authors and texts inspired by the city, covering the early Spanish settlers, African American writers, the British and German expatriates of the 1930s and 1940s, Latino, and Asian LA literature. The genres discussed include crime novels, science fiction, Hollywood novels, literary responses to urban rebellion, the poetry scene, nature writing, and the most influential non-fiction accounts of the region. Diverse, vibrant, and challenging as the city itself, this Companion is the definitive guide to LA in literature.
Chronology; Introduction: landmarks Kevin R. McNamara; 1. The literature of the Californios Rosaura Sánchez and Beatrice Pita; 2. The Anglo invention of Los Angeles William Alexander McClung; 3. LA fiction through mid-century David Wyatt; 4. German exiles and British expatriates in 1930s–1940s LA Russell A. Berman; 5. Postwar Los Angeles: suburban Eden and the fall into history Patrick O'Donnell; 6. Los Angeles in the African-American literary imagination Charles Scruggs; 7. Pacific Rim city: Asian-American and Latino literature James Kyung-Jin Lee; 8. The literature of urban rebellion Julian Murphet; 9. City of sleuths William Marling; 10. LA's science fiction futures David Seed; 11. Hollywood fictions Chip Rhodes; 12. The Southland on screen Mark Shiel; 13. Los Angeles poetry scenes and movements Bill Mohr; 14. Surf, sagebrush, and cement rivers: reimagining nature in LA J. Scott Bryson; 15. Essaying Los Angeles Eric Avila; Guide to further reading; Index.
"Urbanists and critics, alongside novelists and screenwriters, tend to sell us what we expect from a too-familiar L.A. As exemplified by James Kyung-Jin Lee’s nimble juxtaposition of Asian-American and Latino encounters, may this volume encourage a more diverse, and more honest, reaction to the real Los Angeles that defies as often as it defines fictional responses on page and on screen."
John L. Murphy, New York Journal of Books