The subject for Babitz (Slow Days, Fast Company, Eve's Hollywood) is again, predictably and by now a bit tiresomely, California. This time Babitz has a fictional alter-ego, Jacaranda Leven, who's testifying about how it is to be a surfer at heart (i.e. perfectly, improbably balanced); how it feels to get involved with such L.A. scenes as the West Hollywood rock-'n'-roll one; and then what it's like being on ""the barge""--the endless, wealthy, sybaritic party of beautiful people that surrounds the astoundingly, faultlessly elegant Max Winterbourne and his jaded sidekick Etienne, a kinky financier. But when the white linen suits and the vodka and the filet-of-sole perfections of this pale crowd start getting to her, Jacaranda begins to write. First come some magazine articles, and soon she acquires a high-power New York agent, a book contract, an invitation to New York, and, more worryingly, a nice little case of alcoholism. Jacaranda does overcome fear of boozeless-ness, New York, and Max--in the book's zippiest chapters. But Babitz's L.A. weltschmerz has gotten rather clotty and overdone--and, throughout, this effervescent writer tends to wind up more arch than bubbly. A trendy, self-involved frolic that doesn't come close to delivering what seems to be promised in either the title or the subtitle.