Books by Eve Babitz

I USED TO BE CHARMING by Eve Babitz
NONFICTION
Released: Oct. 1, 2019

"A spirited, entertaining collection."
Zesty essays by a sly observer. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Nov. 3, 1999

Fiction writer Babitz (Black Swans, 1993) offers essays about her love for partner dance and the L.A. dance scene. Eve Babitz loves to dance. From tango, to Cajun, to West Coast Swing, she sees the magic inherent in the forms; like many other dance students, she works toward a form that she knows she will never attain. And she works hard'she originally wanted to call her book "I Went from Being a Wallflower to Dancing Every Night of the Week, After Only Nine Years of Dance Lessons." Babitz continues to dance as much as she can, despite a foot that won—t allow her to wear heels for long (a hindrance in the tango, traditionally the domain of high-heeled women), a knee that can—t handle the "voodoo torque" of West Coast Swing, and, later, legs severely burned in a freak car fire. Babitz consistently links her love of dance to her love of Los Angeles, and she never describes a particular dance without mentioning who its best teachers are and where the best local club for dancing it is—as well as whether there's parking. (This is L.A., after all.) Sometimes the jumble of names, facts, and places strikes sparks, as in her essay on West Coast Swing—a dance that, Babitz maintains, "has the worst name in the world"—in which she mixes up history, steps, personalities, and music in a way that seems to echo the form she's talking about. Unfortunately, this information stew doesn—t work as well when she's writing about tango, or the Cajun Fais Do-Do. Dance teachers, dance partners, and L.A. locations fly by in an entertaining whir, but the author never provides a coherent picture of what these dances feel or look like. Dancers and Angelenos will be entertained; non-dancers or non-residents might want to consider taking a class or two before trying out this step. (10 line drawings, not seen) Read full book review >
BLACK SWANS by Eve Babitz
Released: Sept. 9, 1993

Babitz (Sex and Rage, 1979; L.A. Woman, 1982, etc.) is an acquired taste: her slewing style, bad-girl postures, and sad-funny takes on hedonism can be deliciously shocking but don't always blend-up right. Here, though, as the narrator of these nine story/essays, approaches middle-age—after all the drugs, booze, groupie sex, and wild passionate flings—the sense of brakes applied (by 12-step-programs and simple aging) turns Babitz's voice sage as well as outrageous. A number of the pieces revolve around the L.A.-based narrator's weakness for visiting male New York writers; in the best of these, the title one, an effervescent affair is ruined when the narrator dares get something she wrote published for the first time (``Normal men aren't going to love anyone who looks forward to anything but them''). Yet as dispensed as Babitz's people try to be, they never are far from their fears and insecurities—and her wisecracking, ain't-it-the-truth-honey voice is just about perfect in illuminating the fact. Equally good, if somewhat labored (Babitz's chief stylistic flaw is repetitiousness), is a pair of pieces about learning to tango, being swept up in the dance's ``fearless wrongness'': funny, philosophical (``Nobody `got on with their life' in Tango Argentina; they preferred suffering in hell for all eternity''), and with desperate polish. Babitz's best book yet. Read full book review >