Jenny Burman Jenny Burman
A Los Angeles blog
from Echo Park

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Your Echo Park home library

Echo Park funnels itself into words right and left (Chicken Corner notwithstanding). Some recent books about Echo Park or just set there (I would say “here” except that I am writing from Nashville*, Tennessee, where my daughter and I are visiting family) include:

1) Echo Park by Michael Connelly. Latest in the crime writer’s Harry Bosch series. A Janet Maslin review appeared today in the New York Times.

2) Bohemian Los Angeles by Daniel Hurewitz – published by the UC Press, this L.A. history is about Edendale, as Echo Park once was known. It's about the bohemians on the hill, I believe, and I am not sure if the book is yet available.

3) Paint it Black by Janet Fitch. A novel. Much ado made of this one.

4) A fairly new biography of long-time Echo Parker Carey McWilliams.

More about some of these titles to come. I am particularly interested in the Hurewitz book. While Connelly is in a class by himself as a writer of literary genre fiction, I think he is overrated as far as evocation of place goes. He works hard, studies his Los Angeles maps, he makes his on-site observations and somehow misses the magic. But I haven’t yet read Connelly's "Echo Park," and I do plan to read it because (despite a ridiculous Connelly offering I once read that was set in Venice) he is generally good with people and moral complexity, better than he has to be. This in spite of two marketing gimmicks -- a "voice mail" for the main character, Harry Bosch, and a YouTube interview with same -- that make me leery. Still, maybe this title will come closer to nailing that special Los Angeles something for which he already gets credit.

*One of the ways that Nashville is different: Lettering on the glass entry doors to the glitzy Country Music Hall of Fame reads, "No weapons permitted." Then you go upstairs and see Web Pierce's Silver Dollar Convertible, a Nudie custom job, with a rifle replica mounted on the back and a revolver mounted on the front along with a set of alloy silver dollars that replaces the real ones that used to be there. In fact, it's a terrific museum: pure, modern celebration and entertainment. It has Elvis's gold piano and half a dozen of Ray Charles's sunglasses. It looks like the Getty gone country glitz.

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