Just in time for the upcoming Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, The Times’ books staff has created an interactive map of Literary Los Angeles, a work in progress. We’ve gathered passages from more than two dozen books set in and around L.A., as well as literary landmarks and local bookstores.
This first draft of our map gives a sense of the wide scope, in time and space, of the Los Angeles literary scene. Wander over the map and you’ll find scenes from books by assorted writers offering a glimpse of L.A. places and characters.
On the Westside, we’ve got Joan Didion’s protagonist driving the freeway as if it were a river, “every day more attuned to its currents, its deceptions.” And to the east we’ve got Luis J. Rodriguez going to a “barrio beach” in the landlocked San Gabriel Valley, on the Rio Hondo in the Whittier Narrows.
In Hollywood, you’ll find F. Scott Fitzgerald describing epithets directed at a woman screenwriter by others in the movie biz — in the 1940s. You’ll see that so far, we’ve stuck to Los Angeles County, with one detour into Riverside County.
Our L.A. literary landmarks are just a start, but we’ve found some gems. Like the Garden of Allah, the hotel and apartments that were home to Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley, among others. And the Powell Library at UCLA, where Ray Bradbury wrote “Fahrenheit 451" while feeding dimes into a pay-as-you-go typewriter in the basement.
The map is just a beginning; it’s not meant to be comprehensive or definitive. What would you like to see on it? Do you have a favorite L.A. literary landmark? Or perhaps a real location where a scene from a great novel played out? Please let us know in the comments below.