Dear Los Angeles

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

I honestly couldn't get into this book. The format of it made sense in the way that it went from day to day, but I think it would have been a better read if it were organized by person or years instead of days. Maybe one entry per day was actually interesting instead of having majority of the entries interesting and have one boring one every few days.
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"L.A. is the place Angelenos are forever approaching but can never quite get to. Like the city’s most salient, salable feature, you can’t look directly at it. On the right day, though, over the shoulder of a frank letter-writer or diarist, you can feel its radiance" DAVID KIPEN, Los Angeles, Cal.

"Dear Los Angeles" is comprised of letters/diary entries by history's most noteworthy people, ranging from war heroes like Patton, to celebrities, novelists, and ground breaking scientists such as  Einstein. The letters take place throughout LA's  entire history, then organized  by calendar date instead of year. This book is not only captivating, I am also thoroughly impressed.
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In this book, the reader will find excerpts of diaries, journals, and letters.  Also there are a few tweets, blogs, and speech excerpts included.  Most of the people lived in Los Angeles and some excerpts are from visitors there.  The time period covers about 500 years from mission towns under spanish rule to the Hollywood glamour to the multicultural city of today.  Eleanor Roosevelt, Susan Sontag, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Octavia Butler,  Ryan Reynolds and Edward Rice Burroughs are just a few of the “authors” in this book.  It is fascinating to see Los Angeles through the diverse people views of Los Angeles.  I saw Los Angeles in ways that I had not seen or thought about.  It’s a fascinating book to read.
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This is the "Definitive" book about the real Los Angeles and its history.. I loved the format the author choose . This book is a collection of letters, thoughts and words from diaries on Los Angeles  from 1542 through 2018. This is a lovely collection that is quite varied in content with words from politicians through the years,  famous writers , celebrities and others who bring the fabulous history of LA to the reader. Some entries are from the gold rush which are fascinating. Some are from the heyday of Hollywood in the Golden Age .   With some poignant letters from the depression era the author has a fascinating collection here. This is the book to add to your shelf about California history for all who love and adore our Golden State for all its magnificence. 
I adore this book and am buying it for gifts and in hardcover for my own collection. 


Thank you with gratitude to Net Galley and to the publisher for the opportunity to read this fabulous book. .My opinions are my own. I highly recommend this book for all who enjoy history and love California.
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A very interesting read if you are a history fan, LA fan or a fan of the movie industry. Maybe just a little long, but it's a clever way to promote this collection. The author/editor did a great job of offering a variety of letters and journal or diary entries and creating a theme that shows the history of one of the greatest cities in our country.
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Dear Los Angeles is a unique look at the city throughout its existence, from the days before California became a state to present day. Each letter and journal entry belonging to a person who has a unique point of view of their daily lives in the City of Angels. 

This book was a bit hit and miss for me. I truly enjoyed the letters that belonged to people that I recognized, such as musicians, writers, and those in Hollywood past and present. The more historical accounts I couldn't really get into because I know very little about west coast history in general. I may have enjoyed it a bit more if I had read the physical copy instead of the ebook because it would have been easier to quickly flip to the back to read the bio of those I did not recognize. That said, anyone who has a deep interest in Los Angeles history will probably want to pick this one up.
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Los Angeles has hundreds of years of history and so many different people come through with their own stories. A diary entry can tell so much about a person and a place. In this spirit, editor David Kipen put together the collection Dear Los Angeles: The City in Diaries and Letters 1542 to 2018.  

The book is organized by the day the entry was written and follows the order from January 1st to December 31st. Entries can be from any time period between 1542 to 2018 and all tell some aspect of the story of Los Angeles. It's fascinating to see that some days in Los Angeles can have similar feelings, and even three hundred years apart some frustrations in the city continue. Dear Los Angeles features some pretty famous names, including Ray Bradbury, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Simone De Beauvoir, Zora Neal Hurston, John Lennon, Sylvia Plath, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and a ton of other famous names. 

Dear Los Angeles made me homesick in a serious way. The book is such a delight for someone who loves to discover the history of their home, or someone who has left Los Angeles and still misses it.

Dear Los Angeles: The City in Diaries and Letters 1542 to 2018.
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I did not care for this book at all. I did not care for the layout. It bounced all over so I could not make sense of it. I am not posting a review any place else.
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Dear Los Angeles is such a brilliant concept and it must have taken ages to create! It is a collection of excerpts of writing from all types of people, set out in a super unique way. Each excerpt is focused on the city of LA in some way or another. There is a chapter for each month, and then each day of the month contains excerpts of text from different years and different authors. So, for example, on May 4th, you will find content from 1883 written by Helen Hunt Jackson, and from 1939 written by James Joyce. Some of the excerpts are but a few lines, others longer, and some dates have multiple pieces, others one or two. But every single day of the year is covered.

There is content from people such as Octavia E. Butler, Winston Churchill, Simone De Beauvoir, William Faulkner, Allen Ginsberg, Zora Neale Hurston, John Lennon, Anaïs Nin, Sylvia Plath, Evelyn Waugh, Aoki Hisa, Don Juan Bautista Bandini, Woodrow Wilson, Eleanor Roosevelt, and many, many others. 

Each page contains a little bit of LA: history, emotions, people, places, love, anger, family, loneliness, and many other things about the city. It’s lovely to learn about the city through all of these different people’s eyes, how they felt when they arrived, what made them happy, concerned, sad, angry… The heart of the city really beats all through-out this book, and it really gave me a different opinion about the city that I have visited a few times and never really understood. 

It is a book that you can read in one go, or peruse at your own pace, pick it up and put it down, and not feel like you are missing anything. I really enjoyed reading it. 3.5 stars.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy!
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I found the construction of this collection of diary and letter offerings and fantasies intriguing.  Rather than set out, as tradition would dictate, in year sequence, David Kipen has organized his groupings of quotations by many well knowns that define Los Angeles and southern California so well in calendar month and day order.  A little confusing at first, but this quickly became the only way to look at this collection. I found this a wry and fascinating definition of L.A., one I am pleased to recommend to friends and family.     

I received a free electronic copy of this book of tidbits of LA history in Diaries and Letters from Netgalley, David Kipen, and Modern Library in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me.
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This collection contains a list of short letters written as homage to the City of Angels, Los Angeles. Published in calendar format, each day has several letters. The letters range from the early settlement in the 1860s through to the 2018 Trump marches. The authors are prominent persons from all fields, both upstanding and a bit on the seedier side.

However, this arrangement has both pluses and minuses. While it provides easy reference points (holidays, etc), the constant jumping in time makes for difficulty adhering to one person’s story. I did look up most of the authors in Google as they aren’t household names. I would have liked to see each person’s profession listed after their name. Or perhaps an index for each person’s story for those preferring an individual narrative.

The main picture is one of a city constantly in flux, usually in the forefront of the events of this country. LA isn’t just the hub of Hollywoodland - it’s an intregal part of the fabric of America. An escape and a foundation in one,
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This book has an unusual layout: there is an entry for every day of the year, but the *year* the entry is from varies from 1542 through 2018. The entries are chosen from letters and diaries. Each one is a statement about life in Los Angeles at the time. Some are from Catholic brethren who are bringing religion to the west. Some are from politicians. Some are from famous writers drawn to LA to write scripts for Hollywood. The samples may be from Gold Rush days, the Golden Age of Hollywood, the Depression, or recent days. 

I have seen quite a few complaints about the format, but I really liked it. I might be bored with a time in history or with a specific writer’s work, but given a piece only a few pages long, I will read it, and learn something. I also found it very interesting to see opinions not meant for public consumption, but for only the writer’s closest friends or relatives. What I thought would have made the book better was pictures. The last 150 years –the era from which the majority of entries are from- have been documented by photography, and that would have brought things to life more. Four stars for a quick, fun read.
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4.5, rounded up

This book could have been written for me.

I collect letters and diaries, as I find firsthand glimpses of the past so much more interesting than fiction written through a modern lens, or historical treatises that go on about politics without focusing on the individuals. (Though I must say, historical writing by today's scholars is veering away from white male gaze on politics and more toward the actual people involved, including women.)

But anyway. From time to time over the years, when I'm either really tired, or have just a bit of free time, I'd go through my various collections of letters and diaries and look up that day of the year, and read what people did and thought on that day, over the centuries.

Well, this book has taken the same idea. The preface discusses in an engaging way what the author did once he'd begun collecting all these letters and journal entries about Los Angeles over the years. He tried various organizational methods, then landed on a similar idea to my "On this day" game: for each day of the year, he's chosen letters and journal entries that refer to Los Angeles in some way. 

The earliest entries are written by explorers and priests during the 1700s. We see Los Angeles emerging--the sharp scent of citrus, the earthquakes, the distinctive geography, the droughts--as a wild mixture of people try to find common ground in a relatively benign climate. Human nature is not so benign: some entries are high-minded declarations that everyone, no matter what their background, has similar rights (and we know how well that was observed); in other entries, there is so much casual violence that it's taken for granted, until rudimentary justice systems are set up. And we see those in action.

Interspersed are entries from Los Angeles at the turn of the century, and of course many modern ones. Inevitably there is going to be an emphasis on the film industry (and how fake so very many find the city and the life therein, while they collect their huge paychecks; the poor somehow don't have the time or luxury of finding Los Angeles life 'fake'), but there are quotes from a range of people.

The ones I found most riveting, though disturbing, are from an intelligent, observant young American of Japanese background. During 1942-4 we see glimpses of this person's life ripped apart as the FBI comes for them, then they lose everything, and of course when December 7th rolls around, we see their horror at the news, because they are helpless to do anything about what the Japanese empire has done--they are American citizens. Though not for long.

Interspersed between sometimes fatuous and sometimes sharp Hollywood commentary are Latina and Latino people, living their lives, and then, always succinct, Octavia Butler's occasional entries.

I meant to make the book last, but I simply couldn't stop reading. Especially when some of the more modern quotes intersected with my life: one famous person went to the Griffith Observatory, and enjoyed the lecture and presentation tremendously, and I thought, I bet I know who you were listening to. Another went through the same earthquake we endured in 1971. A third well-known person pawed through the used books at Acres of Books in Long Beach (sadly, tragically, no longer there), which I have been to so many times. There were other connections.

About the only complaint I have is that I could have done with a whole lot less of Theodore Dreiser's smirky sexual exploits with his very young mistress. But I could recognize them after a time, and skim for actual content, which he had, occasionally, though always self-involved.

Many entries are poignant, sharply observed, wistful, tragic, stark. It would have been nice if there were pictures, but actually, I found I had images for just about all of the places and times.
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I received an early version of the book via NetGalley.

Kipen approaches the history and development of Los Angeles in an intriguing, unique way: day by day. The book is essentially arranged like a daily devotional, with each day containing diary entries written about or in Los Angeles anywhere from 1542 and 2018. At first, I found this non-chronological approach to a big jolt. The entries, most of them a few sentences or a paragraph or two, can jump from 19th-century soldiers describing their ride to the Menendez Brothers trial to a 1930s Santa Monica beach party.  After a while, though, I fell into a groove. Many of the authors have entries across the year, and I found it fun to follow along with the lives.

Here's an example of the diversity:

- "People in LA are deathly afraid of gluten. I swear to god, you could rob a liquor store in this city with a bagel."
- Ryan Reynolds (2017)

- "Last Saturday I was driving through the mountains near Los Angeles and through orange groves. The groves are now in blossom and the odor is almost sickening it is so strong. You can usually smell a grove about a mile before you get to it."
- Valerie Belletti (1925)

- "I went today to visit an old Spaniard from Spain who had some American papers, also some books from whom I learned a little more of the Spanish language."
- Henry Standage (1847)

Most of the entries are quite G-rated, though there's one author, Theodore Dreiser, whose regular entries are a catalog of his sexual escapades with his wife. They were so different from the others that they tended to take me aback. Still, they do add to an overall view of Los Angeles and its denizens.

This is a fairly long book that took me several weeks to get through. Because of the nature of the entries, it doesn't lend itself well to sitting and reading for hours straight. This is a good book to read in little spurts--or go through it like a devotional. If you have any interest in Los Angeles, this is a fantastic book that does a beautiful job of showing how the city has developed over the centuries.
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“People in LA are deathly afraid of gluten. I swear to god, you could rob a liquor store in this city with a bagel.” RYAN REYNOLDS

That is just one of the many diary posts that are in this book. Some are poignant, many are funny and some are just provide great information for the time period from which they are written. Some of the writers lived in LA and loved it, while others were visitors. Some were transplants who adjusted and others abhorred it. It is a truly wonderful book.
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Read some but lost interest I guess because just not  interested in California so can't really review this book of their writing..
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Dear Los Angeles is an interesting but confusing read.  The concept had a lot of promise but the constant shifting in time gave me a headache.
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I could read a whole series of books like this one. The editor has drawn together diary entries spanning centuries, taking us through Spanish settlements and the rise of Hollywood. We see the city grow dense and fill with smog, and we see the positive Californian outlook of LA's dreamers and creatives. The book is formatted such that each day of the year has a small collection of entries which could be from any era. This provides a kaleidoscope of diverse narrators who describe anything from earthquakes to family life. Some are residents of the city or its outlying regions, others are only passing through. Spanish, Natives, Japanese, Korean, rich, poor, famous stars and average Joe's all give their voice to the growth of this great American metropolis. I found the entries by people I'd never heard of to be the most poignant and interesting. Not that the entries by well known people weren't, but their thoughts and opinions can be found anywhere. Dear Los Angeles was a good opportunity to collect the words of ordinary people who keep the city going.

This book has one issue- it is too long. If all of the entries were suited for the book this wouldn't be any issue, but I found myself skipping over some portions if I saw the writer was someone whose previous entries had been boring. (Sorry, Edgar Burroughs. Sorry, Octavia Butler.) It could have lost about one fourth of the entries and just kept the ones that really illuminated the rich history of Los Angeles. 

Overall a beautiful concept and an excellent read.

This book was provided through NetGalley.
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#DearLosAngeles #NetGalley

An awesome compilation of L.A's diary entries and letters from famous artists, scientist and famous personalities who lived or visited Los Angeles from 1542 to 2018.  It feels a 365 days time travel around the history of this emblematic city which is Los Angeles.
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I bet everyone has some level of affection to their city, state or country. You know the place where you have lived for the most part of your life and there is something you miss  when you are away from your "home". But how about getting to know a city through other peoples experiences, better yet how about getting to know a place going back in time and how it has evolved over time by studying the contents of someone's diary and letters, not someone's, anyone's whose diary entries found a way into this book called Dear Los Angeles. Like the cover of this book says, it is a book of diary entries and letters from folks with intimate connection to Los Angeles. In it you will find entries by people you absolutely wouldn't have any idea who they are but then there are people such as Ray Bradbury, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Marilyn Monroe, etc to name few well-known celebrities. That being said there is no particular order to this entries not is there any continuation a common theme. To an uninitiated this book might seem little bit on the edge of what we know to be a literary composition but quickly you start finding these entries entertaining and thought provoking. For example, my favorite is this one by some guy Ryan Reynolds from 2017 entry-" People in LA are deathly afraid of gluten. I swear to god, you could rob a liquor store in this city with a bagel.". There are also letters written to celebrities and politicians that captures the sociopolitical state during that time the entries were made. 

Overall, I found this book different, different than what we are used to. I suppose it would made a good addition as a  coffee table book. Flip open any page without having to worry about continuity, read a paragraph and be done with that chapter. Open a random page next time and do the same.
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