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Dear Los Angeles: The City in Diaries and Letters, 1542 to 2018

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3.71  ·  Rating details ·  51 ratings  ·  24 reviews
A rich mosaic of diary entries and letters from Marilyn Monroe, Cesar Chavez, Susan Sontag, Albert Einstein, and many more, this is the story of Los Angeles as told by locals, transplants, and some just passing through.

The City of Angels has played a distinct role in the hearts, minds, and imaginations of millions of people, who see it as the ultimate symbol of the America
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Hardcover, 576 pages
Published December 4th 2018 by Modern Library
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Scott S.
Jan 08, 2019 rated it liked it
"Looks like another perfect day - I love L.A. ! (We love it!)" -- singer/songwriter Randy Newman

Ripen assembles various journal, diary, or blog entries from actors (Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Charlton Heston), authors (of all types - novelists, screenwriters and journalists), early settlers and military personnel, politicians (like 'adopted' son Ronald Reagan) and assorted other denizens of the City of Angels. Some were funny (actor / Canadian transplant Ryan Reynolds on gluten), some were down
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Sherwood Smith
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
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Beth Cato
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received an early version of the book via NetGalley.

Kipen approached 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 rid
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Boz
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
When celebrated food critic Jonathan Gold passed away recently, one of his most popular quotes was circulated around the internet: "If you live in Los Angeles, you are used to having your city explained to you by people who come in for a couple weeks...The thing that people find hard to understand is the magnitude of what's here. The huge numbers of multiple cultures that live in the city that come together in this beautiful and haphazard fashion. And the fault lines between them are sometimes w ...more
Bonnye Reed
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
GNab 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 ...more
Adam
Jan 11, 2019 rated it did not like it
I'm not sure how much you'll learn about the actual city of Los Angeles by reading this book, but you WILL learn a fair bit about the editor's idea of Los Angeles. This is the untold story of an eclectic tapestry of... just kidding, it's primarily a(nother) story of famous or semi-famous white writers and artistic types in largely yesteryear Hollywood. Faulkner and Fitzgerald thought WHAT about the studios?!? Someone was at a party with Joan Didion?! Theodore Dreiser liked sex?!?

I really thought
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Laurie
Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 De ...more
Literary Soirée
I so wanted to love DEAR LOS ANGELES by David Kipen, L. A. native, former literature director of the National Endowment for the Arts and book editor/critic of the San Francisco Chronicle. The potential is there for a terrific read, as this fascinating collection features diary entries and letters from 1542 to 2018, woven together to form a rich tapestry of Los Angeles over centuries.

But what is missing is the visual riff — photos, illustrations, a colorful design that could encircle and set off
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Melise
Aug 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I really wanted to enjoy this book more than I actually did. I am a native Angeleno, and I studied Los Angeles history for my master's degree, so I was already fairly familiar with many of the situations that were referenced in these diary entries and letters. And I really enjoyed reading early descriptions of the nascent city, the landscape surrounding it, and the interactions of the writer with the native peoples.

I had trouble, however, with the entries that Kipen chose to include within this
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Natalie
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
DEAR LOS ANGELES is a collection of ephemera about the history of, and life, in LA. The author chose to place all these glimpses into LA history with no particular order. I cannot understand the logic of the presentation. It is neither by author or date, rather disconnected fragments.

I found the randomness of this book very confusing, possibly made more so by the digital format, Between the dates and authors being collected with no plan in mind, and attribution being inserted at the end of the
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Henry Louis
Jan 19, 2019 rated it liked it
This book clearly needs to go on a diet, but there were enough gems hidden in its 500+ page girth that I felt it was worth something between 3 and 4 stars.

Pretty much everything from before the rise of Hollywood provided an interesting perspective on the city to this confirmed east coaster. We also get fascinating entries from Japanese internees, Hollywood blacklistees, and characters like Aaron Paley and Helen Hunt Jackson, of whom I knew nothing and who have much to say.

Still, for every Louis
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Mage's Almanac
Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
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 ear ...more
Cozy Cat Reviews
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 he
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Nancy
Aug 04, 2018 rated it liked it
I loved the idea of this book more than the execution. As a relatively new resident of California I was eager to immerse myself in the past as well as the present.

This book does that--but only to a degree. The short entries are easy to read, but also easy to put down because I didn't feel that any one of them had enough depth to totally pull me in to the world of the writer. The book contains some wonderful snippets, and interesting impressions, but they felt like they were not so much of Los An
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Terri
Dec 26, 2018 rated it liked it
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 b
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Lynette Gile
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I fully enjoyed every page of Dear Los Angeles. I live in the Los Angeles area and was born in Los Angeles, and I was fascinated with the different letters from the 1500’s through 2017. How the times have changed. Yes, Los Angeles is a crowded, auto-loving town but some of the writers description of our landscape, there’s nothing like Los Angeles. I especially was interested in the variety of writers works chosen for this book. What a interesting take on an “love-it or hate-it” town.
Suzette
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“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.
Tessy Consentino
rated it really liked it
Dec 27, 2018
John
rated it really liked it
Dec 20, 2018
Kim
Nov 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: dnf
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 f
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Andrea Hernandez
rated it it was amazing
Dec 06, 2018
chirantha
rated it liked it
Jan 17, 2019
Ryan Luetzen
rated it really liked it
Dec 09, 2018
Trick Wiley
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Read some but lost interest I guess because just not interested in California so can't really review this book of their writing..
Ernesto
rated it it was amazing
Dec 06, 2018
Heidrun
rated it it was ok
Dec 29, 2018
Diana Garcia
rated it liked it
Jan 09, 2019
Rose
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this collection of letters and other things written about the city of Los Angeles. While, I can't say I loved it, I did enjoy it. I would recommend it to those interested in history and the city of Los Angeles in particular.

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a review copy. This is my honest and unbiased opinion of it.
Jon Higgins
rated it it was amazing
Jan 19, 2019
Miranda Feneberger
rated it liked it
Dec 11, 2018
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