L.A. Stories: Fiction and Non-Fiction | Los Angeles Public Library

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L.A. Stories: Fiction and Non-Fiction

Updated: August 18, 2017

There are as many L.A. stories as there are Angelenos - here are just a few of them.

Mosley, Walter.
Call Number: Ed.a
Through a series of interconnected short stories, Mosley tells the story of Socrates Fortlow, an ex-convict with plenty of demons to wrestle, struggling to bring justice to his Los Angeles neighborhood.

Fante, John, 1909-1983.
Call Number: Ed.c
Arturo Bandini, an aspiring young writer, moves to a rundown hotel on Bunker Hill and falls for an unstable waitress in this classic portrait of Depression era Los Angeles. Charles Bukowski cited Fante's novel as an inspiration.

Call Number: 338.4A17 B6585

The aerospace industry, more than the entertainment industry, created a monumental population growth within a short period of time and changed the Southern California region in unimagined and unthought of ways which still have repercussions today. This unique collection of essays examines various aspects of the growth of that industry and brings attention to another major aspect of the history of Los Angeles.

Lepucki, Edan.

Frida and  Cal left the crumbling city of Los Angeles and set out on their own, building a home out of the refuse of others’ dross in Northern California.When Frida becomes pregnant, she and Cal set out for the nearest settlement – a place guarded  by its own community’s secrets. Intricately-plotted and suspenseful, this Dystopian fiction asks us to question just how far we will go to protect those we love.

Friedrich, Otto, 1929-
Call Number: 979.41 L881Fri 1997
Otto Friedrich's City of Nets tells the story of the Hollywood stars, composers, academics, artists, labor organizers, and film industry folk who made the scene in the 1940s. Surly, engrossing, and loaded with good gossip.

Rechy, John.
Call Number: Ed.a
Viciously panned by the Los Angeles Times upon its publication in 1963, Rechy's groundbreaking novel about the gay underground scene during the 1960s is now widely considered a classic.

Davis, Mike, 1946-
Call Number: 309.7949 D263 2006
One of the most notorious and scathing social histories of Los Angeles ever written, Davis examines how class, race, development, crime, and other forces have shaped the city.

West, Nathanel.
Call Number: Ed.d

West's novel about the bottom feeders, has-beens and hangers-on of the Hollywood studio system was a flop when it was first published in 1939 but has since gone on to become, along with The Last Tycoon, the epitome of the Hollywood novel. Coincidently, Nathanael West died in an automobile accident on December 22, 1940, one day after the death of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Abbott, Megan E., 1971-
Los Angeles noir from a woman's point of view - this tale of betrayal and corruption smolders.

Faragher, John Mack, 1945-
Call Number: 979.41 L881Far

There is nothing sweet, quaint, or gentle about the history of Los Angeles, especially during the last half of the 19th century.  It was a city of mob rule, violence and murder. Historian John Mack Faragher's extensive research presents a portrait of a city that is a match for any modern horror film.

See, Carolyn.
A strange and singular book that captures the excess, entitlement, Cold War anxiety, and New Age rhetoric of Los Angeles in the 70s and 80s.

Bukowski, Charles.
Call Number: Ed.c
Henry Chinaski grows up on the mean streets of Los Angeles, and embraces a life of horse-racing, liquor, and poetry in Bukowski's semi-autobiographical novel.

Corwin, Miles.
Call Number: M
A great first novel by a former Los Angeles Times crime and police beat reporter, Miles Corwin, who gets into the mind and motivation of detective Ash Levine. After the murder of a witness he was protecting, Levine resigned from the police department but returns for a special assignment and hopes that he will also be able to solve the witness's murder. Well-paced with wonderfully detailed descriptions of L.A.'s varied neighborhoods.

Ellroy, James, 1948-
Call Number: Ed.b
James Ellroy's wild tale of political corruption, police brutality, and tabloid celebrity scandals set in 1950s Los Angeles is not to be missed.

Choi, Roy,
Call Number: 641.595 C545

Angeleno and rising star in the L.A. culinary landscape, Roy Choi chronicles--with charisma and sincerity--the story of his life and the Los Angeles food scene. From Korean taco inventor with his Kogi truck, to Chego to community-based inititiatives in the inner city, Choi is much more than a celebrity chef. Includes 85 recipes.

Hamilton, Denise.
Call Number: M
Former OSS spy Lily Kessler combs the streets of Los Angeles for a missing starlet, and finds more than she bargained for. Loosely based on the real-life disappearance of aspiring actress Jean Spangler, the book includes stellar period detail, an exploration of women's roles in postwar Los Angeles, and a cameo by a young Ray Bradbury!

Ellis, Bret Easton.
Call Number: Ed.b
Bret Easton Ellis's notorious chronicle of 1980s sleaze and decadence begins with the famous line: "People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles."

Mosley, Walter.
Call Number: M
The eighth installment in Walter Mosley's much-loved Easy Rawlins series is set in the aftermath of the 1965 Watts Riots, and combines a good detective story with an insightful portrait of African-American life in a Los Angeles divided by de facto segregation.

Chandler, Raymond, 1888-1959.
Call Number: M Ed.b
Hard-boiled sleuth Philip Marlowe is in trouble with the police after he helps a suspected murderer flee the country, but his troubles don't end there.

Banham, Reyner.
Call Number: 720.910941 B2165 2009
Los Angeles is often considered to be a fragmented city, but architect Reyner Banham draws it all together by showing how Angelenos interact with the beach, the freeways, the flatlands, and the foothills of the city.

Creason, Glen.
Call Number: 979.41 L881Crea
A lively cartographic history of Los Angeles featuring maps of everything from streetcars and sewers to stars' homes and Sleepy Lagoon.

McCoy, Esther.
Call Number: 720.910941 M131
Esther McCoy was one of modern architecture's most important critics and writers. She was the first architectural critic to take Los Angeles architecture seriously. This is a new anthology which includes a variety of her work.

Drohojowska-Philp, Hunter, 1952-
Call Number: 709.794 D784
During the 1960s Los Angeles was a place of great possibility and freedom for all kinds of artists. Today's well-known and respected artists were then rebels who stirred things up, created controversies and unintentionally challenged figures from the East Coast art establishment (who thought Los Angeles was a cultural wasteland). This is a joyous account of those glory days when the city provided the best blank canvas ever!

Crais, Robert.
Call Number: M
Crais continues his Joe Pike series and delves into the mindset and past of this man of mystery, former LAPD officer and currently a private investigator. Joe encounters two Hurricane Katrina refugees in Venice, California who are being menaced by a local street gang. Joe moves to protect the duo but they are not exactly what they seem to be. Snappy dialogue and a quick narrative pace move the story along. This is a good beach read.

Didion, Joan.
Call Number: 973.92 D556 2008
Though she left Los Angeles for New York years ago, it's hard to think of a writer who understood the city (and California) better. No one but Raymond Chandler could make the Santa Ana winds seem more ominous.

Revoyr, Nina, 1969-
Before the Watts Riots, Jackie Ishida's grandfather owned a grocery store in the Crenshaw district. After his death, Jackie is plunged into a decades-old mystery and uncovers the neighborhood's complex history.

Brown, Janelle.
A giddy satire about a young married couple, a musician and a filmmaker, who decide to celebrate the impending success of their careers by buying a Mount Washington bungalow with an adjustable mortgage rate.

Fitch, Janet, 1955-
Janet Fitch's intense first novel is about a teenage girl who ends up in the Los Angeles County foster care system after her mother is imprisoned for murder.