Today's L.A. book in the NYT

Echo Park author Charlie Huston, who blogs at, gets a helpful Janet Maslin review in today's New York Times for his latest book, "The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death." The main character Web falls into a job as a trauma site cleaner and the Port of Los Angeles serves as the book's "epicenter of murk," writes Maslin.

"The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death” is [Huston's] almost entirely successful leap into crime fiction’s mainstream. Despite frequent and literally splashy touches of the grotesque, it takes a tart, quick-witted, sharply funny trip, hijacked only by certain conventional plot touches and brushes with sentimentality. The vivid hilarity of Mr. Huston’s hippies manqué and stumblebum, Hollywood-obsessed tough guys is this book’s hallmark.

On his blog, Huston quotes at length from a favorable Amazon review by Stephen King and says, "My first book set in LA, it concerns Web Goodhue, a smartass piece of damaged goods who spends the bulk of his time slacking on the couch in his roommate’s tattoo parlor."

First NYT cliche of the year? Charles McGrath, while sneering at Carrie Fisher's new memoir, observes: "What her Hollywood upbringing doesn’t account for is Ms. Fisher’s manifest intelligence and adroit way with words. She is one of the rare inhabitants of La-La land who can actually write and has published four novels, the best of which, the semi-autobiographical “Postcards From the Edge,” became a prize-winning movie with a script by Ms. Fisher herself."

Also: David Rieff's hesitant handling of his mother Susan Sontag's journals. Richard Eder/NYT

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