Sex and Rage by Eve Babitz
Sex and Rage by Eve Babitz cuts to the core of Los Angeles in the 1970s, or at least Los Angeles as we might have imaged it, in simple language and unabashed honesty. It beautifully backlights what I came to know of LA, with all its drinks, drugs and rock'n'roll, against the publishing world of New York, a separate fanta-reality I so often imagine.
This is the story of Jacaranda, an LA-born surfer girl who, at a young age, finds herself brought into the LA scene, dating first a serious producer and, later, falling in with actors, socialites and businessmen. She finds herself constantly drunk, red around the eyes, but mesmerized all the same. Then, one day, she publishes an article in a small magazine. Suddenly, her troupe is cautious around her. What is she is writing about them?
That, and her alcoholism, is leading her to push away most of her friends, except those who are drunk as she is. Her work is picked up by a New York agent and she justifies her drinking as part of the artist's life. She keeps writing; she keeps drinking. She dramatizes her life to her agent, flaring up incidents with her boyfriend to distract from the book she isn't writing. Then, she writes the book and it is quickly picked up by a publisher. But then! They want her to come to New York! And some of her troupe, the troupe that turned mean on her, lives in New York now. She delays and delays until she doesn't anymore.
Then she's on a plane to New York, and she's meeting her publisher, and her agent, and different magazines. An old fling of hers has become a big actor. She meets him. He is with her old troupe. She faces them. She has quit drinking. She survives. She heads back to Los Angeles. She is lucky.
It's all rather reckless and whimsical and so a reflection of Los Angeles, it has you gripped from start to end. When she chooses to be an alcoholic, she's an alcoholic. When she's sober, she's sober. She wants to be a writer? Go for it! Anything is possible. But, I can attest, anything really does seem possible in Los Angeles. Go there to find your gold, girl, just keep on catching those waves.