Friday, March 18, 2005

Top Forty: Los Angeles' Top Forty Works of Fiction

The first part of oldies But goodies, the latest hits plus some obscure numbers you need to know. From Oscar Acosta's radical Chicano lawyer hanging out with the Brown Berets to Joseph Hansen's gay detectives searching for clues during the AIDs plague:
Acosta, Oscar- Revolt of the Cockroach People. – novel of Chicano revolt in1960s by the legendary Oscar “Zeta” Acosta
Adamic, Louis. Laughing in the Jungle. Debunker novel about LA in 1920s-the first fine novel showing poor immigrant struggling to achieve his dreams.
Boyle, T.C. Tortilla Curtain. Novel of the two couples in Topanga Canyon: the wealthy Anglo and struggling Mexican-American
Bukowski, Charles. Post Office .Story explains why a postal worker would go postal.
Cain, James. Mildred Pierce. Brilliant story capturing life of single working woman in Glendale during the 1930s.
Chandler, Raymond. The Big Sleep. – the first, the great, detective novel.
Connelly, Michael. Angel’s Flight. Fine detective work dealing with mid-1990s conflicts over L.A.P.D. and race.
Didion, Joan. Play It As It Lays. The great car story of a alienated actress driving.
Dunne, John Gregory. True Confessions. Corruption and murder in high places in Catholic church in late 1940s L.A.
Fante, John. Ask the Dust. Wrenching tale about poor young man living in Bunker Hill and struggling to have his dream of being a writer..
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Last Tycoon. Fitzgerald’s last unfinished novel describing the last brilliant Hollywood movie producer.
Fitch, Janet. White Oleander- Girl surviving the craziness of the foster care in this tale.
Fuchs, Daniel. The Golden West- lovely short stories and a novella about Hollywood by Jewish-American working class writer who worked a sreenwriter in 1930s-1950s.
Himes, Chester. If He Hollers, Let Him Go African-American fights racism in South Central- best novel written about Los Angeles during World War II.
Hansen, Joseph. Early Graves. Gay detective investigates deaths of gays with AIDs.
The second half of oldies but goodies, the latest hits plus some obscure numbers you need to know, from 1920s exposes of corporate corruption by Upton Sinclair to 2000 exploration of East L.A. by Luis Rodriguez and many points in between:
Hirahara, Naomi. Summer of the Big Bachi. Mystery about Japanese-Americans spanning a time period from war-torn Japan to present-day Los Angeles.
Huneven, Michelle. Jamesland. Funny novel explores L.A's obsessions with eating good food and exploring new religions.
Huxley, Aldous. After Many Summer Dies a Swan- Brilliant satire of Hollywood and its environs in the 1930s.
Jackson, Helen Hunt. Ramona. 1st novel about Southern California published in late 19th century about half-Mexican/half-Native young woman Ramona and her sweetheart having hard times in Anglo era.
Kadohata, Cynthia. In the Heart of the Valley of Love- surviving the horrors of postacolyptic days of 2052 Los Angeles.
McCoy, Horace. They Shoot Horses Don’t They. Classic noir about Depression L.A. marathon dancers.
Morales, Alejandro. Brick People. Magic realist novel about epic struggle between Mexican-American brickyard workers and the Simons family who owns the brick yeard.
Mosley, Walter. Walking the Dog- brilliant novel about African-American ex-con rebuilding his life in Southcentral.
Oates, Joyce Carol. Blonde. Sizzling fictionalized novel about actress Marilyn Monroe.
Ponce, Mary Helen. The Wedding. Novel about working class Chicana’s large wedding.
Rechy, John. The Miraculous Day of Amalia Gomez. One of the best L.A. novels of the 1980s about Mexican-American woman surviving hard times.
Revoyr, Nina. Southland. Searing novel about two generations of blacks and Japanese in Crenshaw district.
Rense, Rip. The Last Byline.Captures the decline of the old time newspapers in California and the rise of corporate journalism
Rochlin, Michael. Cascaron. Wonderful novel about the last days of the Mexican ranchos in Southern California in the 1850s.
Rodriguez, Luis. The Republic of East Los Angeles. Fine stories about East Los Angeles.
Schulberg, Bud. What Makes Sammy Run. Classic noir expose of film industry and a nasty movie executive.
See, Carolyn. Making History. Living with random violence on the Westside.
Sinclair, Upton. Oil. The first strong anti-boomer novel exposing corruption in the oil industry in the 1920s.
Tervalon, Jervey. Understand This- Surviving drugs in a black neighborhood.
Tobar, Hector. Tatooed Soldier. Great work dealing with Guatemalan immigrant on the city’s downtown mean streets during the 1992 riots
Waugh, Evelyn. The Loved One. Brilliant satire on 1930s L.A. from a master.
West, Nathanel. Day of the Locust. Classic noir on down-and-out Hollywood wannabees.
Woods, Paula. Inner City Blues. Mystery with African-American LAPD detective heroine investigating murder during 1992 riots.
Yamamoto, Hisaye. Seventeen Syllables. Dazzling stories about Japanese-Americans in L.A. from through 1930s farms through the post war period.

1 comment:

Cal Barnes said...

Great list. Found some new titles here I'm going to add to my library reading list. A few of my other favorites are Alison Lurie's 'The Nowhere City', Bud Schulberg's 'The Disenchanted', and Harold Robbins 'The Carpetbaggers' and 'The Dream Merchants.'