L.A. DAYS, L.A. NIGHTS by Stephen Brook


A Journey Through America's City of Dreams
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 Having turned his acerbic gaze on the Big Apple (New York Days, New York Nights, 1985), Texas (Honkytonk Gelato, 1985), three European capitals (Vanished Empire, 1990), and Israel (Winner Takes All, 1991), Brook, who's British, now focuses on L.A.--in a travelogue marked by the superciliousness that's marred some of his earlier work. Caroming about the L.A. Basin from frumpy Pasadena to funky Venice, from scruffy Watts to yuppie Westwood, Brook explores venues both familiar (Knott's Berry Farm; Rodeo Drive) and unfamiliar (an employment agency specializing in strange jobs--like ``bad skin models'' for acne-remedy ads). Along the way, he interviews numerous Angelenos, from a self-proclaimed ``star'' of public-access TV to a junior-high-school principal who affects the flashy paraphernalia of success--chunky gold chains, white Mercedes-Benz convertible--in order to inspire students to try harder. Throughout, Brook takes less-than-polite potshots at women (``fifty smiling bimbos''; ``whores, thighs packed into tight shorts like sausage casings''), the elderly (``The average age...seems to be about ninety, and most...drive--their chins resting daintily on the steering wheel...''), and gays. His interest in architecture produces the most worthwhile and reliable pages here: Interspersed throughout are insightful comments on public and private L.A. structures designed by Frank Gehry, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Richard Neutra, among others. Plagued by name-dropping, humor tending toward the sophomoric, and arbitrary evaluations: middling both as city-guide and as social commentary.

Pub Date: June 28th, 1993
ISBN: 0-312-09321-7
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1993