2016: 59.  West of Eden

“When I was a younger man, I made an arrangement with Gray Line Tours that would allow me to drive in the evenings and on weekends (it was called “working the board”).

West of Eden, Jean Stein

West of Eden is an oral history of L.A., but old L.A. from the say, twenties through the sixties.  And it’s not meant to be comprehensive - rather, Stein has collected a number of stories, some of her own family, and put them together with other things she finds interesting.  She leaves you to draw the connection and meaning from her motley tales.  And, it works.  It captures something ineffable about L.A. and old Hollywood, and the battles for gas and water.  It has a whiff of Chinatown, and a sense of sadness, looped in with the success stories and the sun and the oranges.

It’s hard to describe - I recommended to my husband upon reading the first section, and he got it on Audible, only to be totally baffled by who was saying what (oral history, remember).  But I told him to let it go, and just let the stories flow over him, and he quite liked it, too.  If you only like very serious history, this isn’t the thing for you, but if you’re interested in a tone piece about a bygone time, I think you’d like it.

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017