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Random House Publishing Group, Fall 2018

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Dear Los Angeles
The City in Diaries and Letters, 1542 to 2018
Edited by: David Kipen
9780812993981 Hardcover English General Trade HISTORY / Social History Dec 04, 2018
$35.00 CAD
Active 5.76 x 8.55 x 1.39 in 576 pages Modern Library
A rich mosaic of diary entries and letters from Marilyn Monroe, Cesar Chavez, Susan Sontag, Albert Einstein, and many more, this is the story of Los Angeles as told by locals, transplants, and some just passing through.

David Kipen scoured the archives of libraries, historical societies, and private estates to assemble a kaleidoscopic view of Los Angeles from Spanish missionary expeditions in the 1500s to the present day. These entries are arranged by date—January 1 through December 31—but are selected from more than three centuries of writing by those living in, or visiting, Los Angeles. Thus the entry for January 21, for example, will have an excerpt from Benjamin Hayes in 1850, F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1938, Charlton Heston in 1957, John Lennon in 1974, and a blogger in 2011. In the process, readers get a wonderful glimpse of life in this city through the ages.

Profound, historical, whimsical, this rich mix of letters and diary entries marking each day of the year offers intimate flashes of life in Los Angeles over the past four centuries.

Story Locale: Los Angeles


THE CONTRIBUTORS: From familiar names like James Dean, Eleanor Roosevelt, William Faulkner, Joan Rivers, and Albert Einstein to fascinating unknowns like the Spanish missionaries who first settled California and the men and women who helped build the city, bring it water, and found Hollywood, the chorus of Angelenos is a fascinating mix.

AUTHOR: David Kipen, a life-long Angeleno and an influential figure in the city’s literary scene, knows and loves the rich, complex history of Los Angeles intimately, and this depth and variety is reflected on every page of the book.

Perfect for dipping into, as well as reading straight through, this captivating chronicle of a remarkable city makes an especially beautiful HOLIDAY GIFT.

DAVID KIPEN was born and raised in Los Angeles. Kipen opened the Boyle Heights bookstore and lending library Libros Schmibros in 2010. A former literature director of the National Endowment for the Arts, book editor/critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, and contributor to multiple volumes of California cultural history, Kipen holds a degree in literature from Yale University. He teaches in the UCLA writing program.

Author Residence: Los Angeles, CA

Author Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

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Publicity: National/local review and feature print attention

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Local author promotion: LA

“Los Angeles is refracted in all its irreducible, unexplainable glory in Dear Los Angeles…. Kipen’s new compendium collects fragmentary views of Los Angeles, from nearly 500 years of letters and diaries, turning the City of Angels into a city of angles, glimpses, shards of perception, like a million little slivers of a broken mirror, all reflecting different images of our disparate city back to us.”Los Angeles Times

“This book’s a brilliant constellation, spread out over a few centuries and five thousand square miles. Each tiny entry pins the reality of the great unreal city of Angels to a moment in human time—moments enthralled, appalled, jubilant, suffering, gossiping or bragging—and it turns out, there’s no better way to paint a picture of the place.”—Jonathan Lethem
“[A] grand, cosmic, Joycean ‘year’ of Los Angeles’s entire existence…. These voices and moods in such strange proximity to each other, across centuries, create the sense of a vibrant community…engaged in constant conversation…. A book for the ages.”Los Angeles Review of Books

“[A] scintillating collection of letters and diary entries…an engrossing trove of colorful, witty insights.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“[This] book deepens and expands and flyspecks our view of Los Angeles…. An ebullient and often moving way to organize history. Major events (wars, public ceremonies, assassinations, elections) blend with private joys and griefs, and with offbeat assertions, wild boasts, intimate details and moments of unforced lyricism.”The New York Times

“A Los Angeles native and lion of the city’s literary culture gathers writers’ impressions of the City of Angels from across several centuries…. Like the city itself, the book mashes wildly diverse sources into an intriguing and surprising whole.”Kirkus Reviews 

“Lushly rewarding…irresistible…Los Angeles native and book critic Kipen performed a seven-year feat of zealous, far-ranging research and editing to create what he describes as ‘a collective self-portrait of Los Angeles.’”Booklist

“What better way to celebrate this fragmented yet uncontainable city than through these pithy historical nuggets of intellectual and artistic criticism and delight. I’m keeping my copy and will surely be buying many more as gifts, too. John Cage! Octavia Butler! Thank you, David Kipen, for loving the unruly sprawl.”—Aimee Bender, author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

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