Friday, March 18, 2005

Top Forty: Los Angeles's Best 40 Works of Fiction

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.

Isherwood, Christopher. A Single Man. Fine tale of a single day in life of gay professor--captures Los Angeles of the early 1960s.

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.


Jezdog said...

Julia: I'm impressed with your list.
-Jervey Tervalon

California Writer said...


Thanks for the nice comment. Hope
your writing is going well.