This collection gathers nearly fifty pieces written by the Hollywood "it girl" between 1975 and 1997, including the full text of Babitz’s book-length investigation into the pioneering lifestyle brand Fiorucci. The title essay, published here for the first time, recounts the accident that came close to killing her in 1996.
Babitz’s winking embrace of clichés provides ideal cover for an intellect suffering no fools ... Babitz may sneak up on readers who are unfamiliar with her work. Fans of her books, like Slow Days, Fast Company, will find a trove of delights here ... This collection ought to cement her place among contemporaries like Joan Didion, an early champion of her work, and Pauline Kael, of whom Babitz was a fan ... Babitz declares, 'I have never liked perfect things, they give me the creeps.' Still, this collection comes close.
... we are lucky enough to have more of Babitz’s writing to read ... Babitz is at home anywhere, and everywhere she goes she finds the most interesting person, the weirdest place, the funniest throwaway detail. She makes writing seem effortless and fun, which any writer can tell you is the hardest trick of all ... this collection shows Babitz to have been insanely prolific while also attending every good party in the LA hills and many long nights at the Chateau Marmont. The parties are part of her process, just like those long drives to the beach she recommends ... gossip is part of her reporting style, because so much of gossip is news that powerful men don’t want made public; it reveals them as silly, or petty, or cruel. Babitz can’t help but make important men look as silly as they really are. But she isn’t gratuitously cruel. Just as she doesn’t shy away from recording men at their most ridiculous, she doesn’t shy away from objectifying beautiful men (and she does it so much better than anyone else). She’s nobody’s sycophant, and that commands a certain kind of respect from her subjects, who’ve grown used to being sucked up to ... Babitz writes like someone who lives life to its limits ... To read Eve Babitz is to feel like her passenger, cruising down long Hollywood streets through a painted-backdrop sunset toward eternal waves.
Such is the paradox of Eve Babitz: When she’s not gossiping, bragging, or showering on praise worthy of a press release, she’s issuing unrepentant verdicts on widely beloved icons ... Babitz embraces an unself-conscious high-is-low/low-is-high perspective that places her well ahead of her time ... I Used to Be Charming might offer an uneven ride, swinging from thoughtful pop-culture analysis to extended bouts of name-dropping to frothy musings about which types of man legs are the sexiest, but it’s never the least bit boring. There’s something divine about Babitz’s vision of the world, mixed with some incandescent undercurrent of delusion—sordid, surreal, and alienated from reality ... Every essay lurches as unpredictably as Babitz’s prose, toggling rapidly between sneering and leering. But even when Babitz leers, it’s like the Pope waving through the glass of his Popemobile: her leering conveys a blessing.