Saturday, June 23, 2007

Fall Book List

OK, the book lineup for the Fall course on Los Angeles is set. In order, the books are:

Carey McWilliams, Southern California: An Island on the Land
Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep
Chester Himes, If He Hollers Let Him Go
John Fante, Full of Life
Charles Bukowski, Post Office: A Novel
Joan Didion, The White Album
T.C. Boyle, The Tortilla Curtain

This was a tough list to assemble. Other candidates included Fante's Ask the Dust, Schulberg's What Makes Sammy Run?, Bugliosi and Gentry's Helter Skelter, Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Walter Mosley's A Red Death, D.J. Waldie's Holy Land, and many others. I would love to teach Greg Mitchell's Campaign of the Century, Otto Friedrich's City of Nets, and Mike Davis's City of Quartz, but I didn't think they would work in this course. I tried to get some historical coverage here, something from every decade or so, but I would have been happy to teach a course just on Los Angeles in 1939.

The feature films I've penciled in are:

Sunset Boulevard
Devil in a Blue Dress
Endless Summer
Real Women Have Curves
Laurel Canyon

There will be documentaries, too:

Zoot Suit Riots
Hollywood on Trial
The Doors

The idea is to pick some evocative works, but also to get some resonances between and among them: Zoot Suit Riots dramatizes McWilliams, Bukowski picks up on Fante, Chinatown comments on The Big Sleep (and McWilliams), Devil in a Blue Dress looks back on Himes, etc. So we'll see how that goes.


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