Quotes, Writing

Fangirling Over Eve Babitz Quotes

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Eve Babitz was a committed hedonist with an eye for life’s complexities. It is impossible for me to get through her books in one sitting because the writing is so lyrical, so intriguing, that I have to stop every few minutes to savor it. I want to see what she saw. But, even better than her descriptions of the events she witnesses, is her ability to turn the people she meets into characters, crafting whole story arcs in paragraphs and lovingly eviscerating them.

Here are six descriptions from her first work, Eve’s Hollywood (Number 3 on this list!), that make me want to exist in bygone Los Angeles.

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Richard Green, the bluegrass breakneck violin player sounds the way The Girl in the convertible looks when she runs her fingers underneath her honey tresses at a light to free her hair for a moment from its own weight.

On Bluegrass
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And there was James, salty and famished-looking from the summer, standing like a raped angel with these dark blue eyes throwing southern aristocratic landscapes all across dark smelly nightclubs where we sat in front of the impossible.

On the next best thing
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[He] was always a prince to me until I grew up and then he treated me the way he treated most adults which was with tantrumic impatience and nasty remarks.

On her father’s fabulous friends
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Walter and I were born on consecutive days. We always understood each other perfectly and had a wonderful time pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes until he saw the dove of peace on acid, which was a drag. But anyway, we are friends. He’s an orphan, it was part of his story.

A complete story in 4 sentences
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I’ve read Proust all the way through because everyone said I’d like it, but Colette’s little sketch of Proust coming into a room after everyone had thought he’d gone and already had begun gossiping about how he was a f*g was only about three paragraphs and you could imply the other 9 million pages. Nevertheless, I liked the other nine million pages and recommend them to anyone in solitary confinement or otherwise out of commission. You can’t read Proust at the Laundromat.

On high art
Biography, Memoir, Nonfiction

Number 3: Title starting with the letter “E”

Eve’s Hollywood

Eve Babitz

Words cannot express how much I love this collection. I read it every year and I always find something new to appreciate about it. Eve Babitz is commonly compared to Joan Didion, but I never understood it. In my opinion she is much more in line with Edith Wharton and Candace Bushnell, women who wrote savagely and frivolously, like pink stilettos, which is my favorite kind of writing. The difference being that they wrote about New York, and she wrote about L.A.

In the Depression, when most of them came here, people with brains went to New York and people with faces came West.

Of all her books, Slow Days Fast Company is probably her best, the most polished and to the point, but I like the messiness of Eve’s Hollywood. It feels like being 22 and sitting by the pool with your best friend over mojitos. Although I am originally from LA county, I did not appreciate the beauty of it while I was growing up, but I did after I read this book. It makes me homesick in the best possible way.

Culturally, L.A. has always been a humid jungle alive with seething L.A. projects that I guess people from other places just can’t see. It takes a certain kind of innocence to like L.A., anyway. It requires a certain plain happiness inside to be happy in L.A., to choose it and be happy here. When people are not happy, they fight against L.A. and say it’s a ‘wasteland’ and other helpful descriptions.