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Eve's Hollywood (New York Review Books Classics)

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To a lot of people, the idea of an extended bed rest sounds like heaven. But the truth is, lying in bed you get no respect and being a burn patient is a visit to torture land,” she wrote. “Everyone keeps telling you to relax, which you have absolutely no way of doing anyway.” Sally had become a platinum blonde, which made her look like Kim Novak with a brain, and her career, as she referred to her life, looked like it might do something. She actually could act. Following up on his impressive debut, Rules Of Civility, Amor Towles has written an excellent novella featuring one of the main characters from that novel, Evelyn Ross. Independent Eve was intriguing in Rules of Civility and when she headed on a whim to Los Angeles, it was her that Towles wanted Moto write about. So it was good to lestn where her restless spirit had taken her. Towles’ elegant writing is a celebration as usual.

It is not absolutely necessary to have read RULES OF CIVILITY before reading EVE IN HOLLYWOOD, but I would suggest doing so. It not only removes some Spoilers, but it also provides side references that will cause the “knowing” among us to smile. had already begun. “Predictably, and now a bit tiresomely,” a Kirkus review observed, the novel was about California, and “ Babitz’s L.A. weltschmerz has gotten rather clotty and overdone.” And still, Jacaranda was a few And to Sister Mary Agnes Donahue for looking like a trading card and leaving the garden for good. And to Goode.She wrote of being driven home in her teens and kissed by an older man, Johnny Stompanato, who, in one of Hollywood’s most sensational scandals, was later murdered by the daughter of Lana Turner in what was ruled a justifiable homicide.

All this sounds a little overblown and hysterical, I’ll grant you, and yet I believe now as I believed then that it’s accurate and true. I really loved the debut novel Rules of Civility, so I was delighted to find this book of six linked stories, which looks at what happened to character Evelyn Ross after she left New York. "Rules of Civility" was based around three friends - working girls Katey Kontent and Evelyn Ross, plus the wealthy and handsome Tinker Grey. Set in Jazz Age New York, the novel centres on Katey but, at the end of the novel, Eve leaves for home and somehow ends up in LA. These stories tell you how she made her way to Hollywood and what happens to her while she is there. However, it is not necessary to have read "Rules of Civility" to read these stories, which do stand alone. Hollywood was in her blood. Her father was a violinist in the Twentieth Century Fox Orchestra, her mother an artist and her godfather Igor Stravinsky. She didn’t have to work hard to drop names, because names seemed to fall from the sky. At Hollywood high school, her classmates included Linda Evans, Tuesday Weld and Yvette Mimieux, a “movie star, even when she butted in front of you in the cafeteria line”.No one chronicled–or lived–the 60s in LA like Eve Babitz. Her work has languished out of print for much too long. Now, at last, she’s being celebrated not just for her beauty and for the long list of men she inspired and caroused with before they became art and music superstars, but for her writing. Near the end of Amor Towles’s bestselling novel Rules of Civility, the fiercely independent Evelyn Ross boards a train from New York to Chicago to visit her parents, but never disembarks. Six months later, she appears in a photograph in a gossip magazine exiting the Tropicana Club in Los Angeles on the arm of Olivia de Havilland. On the phone, she talked like she looked. On the phone, she talked like she wrote. On the phone, she was what Laurie said she no longer could be: She was Eve Babitz. The six delightful stories, told from six different perspectives, take Eve from that cross-country train trip to just before the snapping of that celebrity photograph. In between, the Reader meets some wonderful characters. They aren’t “wonderful” in the sense that they are all pleasant, but they are all vivid and quite memorable. (One even foreshadows A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW!)

After most of her work went out of print, she was praised in a 2014 Vanity Fair article by Anolik as an overlooked and unbowed genius. Eve’s Hollywood, Slow Days, Fast Company and other books were reissued, a well-regarded biography by Anolik was published in 2019 and Babitz was discovered by a generation of younger women, leading her to joke: “It used to be only men who liked me, now it’s only girls.” Really, though, and in fact, the ending for Eve was ambiguously ever after, those gardenias sometimes blowing rancid, sometimes sweet. One of the last scenes she and I played together: Just as he did for the New York City of 1938 in Rules of Civility, he paints a vibrant portrait of Tinsel Town in it's Golden Age.Have you ever had an appetizer and asked why don't they turn that into an entree? That's what this novella is. Towles took one image from Rules of Civility and turned it into six interwoven stories about Evelyn Ross in old Hollywood. Just as Rules of Civility left you wanting more, which presumably resulted in this book, Eve in Hollywood leaves you wanting more of whatever Towles is cooking up next. Simply put, the book is great -- there is just not enough of it. Babitz lived for a year in New York and for a few months in Rome, but Los Angeles was her home and inspiration, a playground for self-invention, a “gigantic, sprawling ongoing studio”. In her essay Daughters of the Wasteland, she remembered her disbelief that others could find Los Angeles empty and unlivable. And to Joseph Heller, Speed Vogel and the guy who ran off with the baby sitter. And Milo Minderbinder's inspiration. I didn’t respond because I didn’t know how to. She wasn’t thanking me, and I don’t think I’d have been able to bear it if she was. (Eve didn’t do humbug emotions like gratitude.) There was a half smile on her face, and she was looking at me intently, something I couldn’t recall her ever having done before. I felt the need to speak, only I couldn’t think what to say. Couldn’t think, couldn’t think. And to L. Rust Hills for the ice cream story and the one about taking sides and anagrams. That Esquire is falling apart. Mine is Babe Vizet.

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