A 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.
An ebullient and often moving way to organize history ... consuming [Dear Los Angeles is a bit like watching an orange-scented, palm tree-lined, gin-soaked version of Christian Marclay’s 24-hour film montage, The Clock ... Kipen doesn’t have the historical richness to work with that Carpenter did in New York Diaries. Among this collection’s more obvious blind spots is pop music. This book’s joys are pomegranate joys, feeling for seeds among the pith.
... what Dear Los Angeles: The City in Diaries and Letters 1542 to 2018 shows us is that L.A. is a place that can’t be rationalized, explained or excused ... Kipen’s new compendium collects fragmentary views of Los Angeles, from nearly 500 years of letters and diaries, turning the City of Angels into a city of angles, glimpses, shards of perception, like a million little slivers of a broken mirror, all reflecting different images of our disparate city back to us ... A number of the fragments in Dear Los Angeles are master classes in micro-storytelling ... Though many of the entries offer riveting views of and perspectives on Los Angeles, the juxtapositions sometimes feel less meaningful, determined mostly by the impediments of the book’s idiosyncratic formal conceit ... Even if one snapshot doesn’t seem particularly enlightening, each gains iridescence by rubbing shoulders with the rest in the calendrical procession of partial portraits.