To write the definitive book about Los Angeles would be impossible. In Everything Now, the novelist Rosecrans Baldwin doesn’t try. And in not trying, he may have written the perfect book about Los Angeles ... Freewheeling and polyhedral, the book could serve equally as an ornament on the coffee table of a Silver Lake architect; a pamphlet at an anti-deportation rally downtown; or a primer beside bound scripts in a filmmaking class ... Baldwin embodies the 19th-century flâneur: alighting here and there in space and time, spending a while, passing through, pulling over. A Baudelaire of Bel Air; a painter of post-postmodern life ... None of these visits feel like drive-bys, or postcards from the edge. Perhaps because of Baldwin’s asides...These minutiae are central to our understanding of this place that is as overcrowded as it is desolate; sometimes friendly, but never cozy ... And if Everything Now is not the first to remark on the double meaning of Angelenos 'needing validation' — for parking but also their souls — no matter. Consider Baldwin’s ticket stamped.
... presents endless opportunities for an enterprising writer, and Baldwin has written the best book on the subject since City of Quartz. He helicopters his broader narrative down at carefully-chosen points in the city’s history ... This kind of kaleidoscopic approach is a risk, since it forfeits most narrative cohesion in its quest for momentum, but Baldwin makes it pay off ... It certainly conveys the persistent strangeness of the place, and this is hugely helped by Baldwin’s uncanny ability to get the best quotes out of the endless people he interviews over endless drinks in endless tacky bars. He’s amassed so many of these choice quotes that he can deploy them as punch lines ... If you’re not already under the odd spell that LA so often casts on even people who’ve never visited it, you’ll feel the light brushing of that spell while reading these pages; if you find the whole idea of Los Angeles vaguely, indefinably revolting, Baldwin’s anecdotes will make you seethe delectably with vicarious disapproval; and if you are indeed already bewitched by LA, you now have a new piece of required reading.
After discussing Hollywood, Baldwin mesmerically captures the horrors of recent forest fires and the 2018 mudslides, events that have scarred the landscape and its residents. In the final section, perhaps the strongest, Baldwin looks at the tragic and inexcusable inequality that divides L.A. Full of surprising facts and anecdotes, this is a compelling, thoroughly researched, and lovingly crafted chronicle of how Los Angeles came to be.