I wish I could be all 'I've-been-an-Eve-Babitz-fan-for-years!' here, but alas, like the rest of the reading world, I just discovered her recently. That's a shame, of course, but the upside of that is that I found a new favorite LA writer just when I thought I'd read them all. She's funny, lyrical and likable, like a Joan Didion who'd split her last quaalude with you in the Barney's Beanery bathroom and let you borrow her lipgloss.
Babitz was a well-known party girl who hob-nobbed through the jacaranda-lined streets of 1960s and 1970s Los Angeles with the likes of Steve Martin, Jim Morrison and Ed Ruscha, to name a few, and most of her writing sticks fairly close to this material. This is the first novel of her's I've read, after two wonderful books of essays, and at first I was unimpressed, but then it grew on me. A lot.
What I like most about her books is that she peppers them with spot on observations and one-line truths. Like, "In New York, the way to tell you're happy is by shopping," and she "had become officially Impossible. She had turned twenty-eight." She has mentioned that age, 28, before in her writing and it's always stood out to me. In my own 20s, I spent a lot of time trying to determine when I would become an adult, and in retrospect, 28 was it. It's not the year I figured it out-just the year I realized that someday I was going to have to.
And that's what this book is ultimately about: pulling yourself out of the quicksand that is being young and choosing to chart your own course. Eve Babitz is now in her 70s and, as far as I know, not still writing, which is too bad. She wrote so gorgeously and astutely while in the throes of youth and beauty that I can only imagine she'd do the same when looking back on them.