I am a fiction
writer. I live in Los Angeles
I once was asked, 'Why LA? Don't all fiction writers want to live in New York
Presumably because of the publishing industry?
I can't live in New York. I must live in a place that inspires me.
Los Angeles is that place.
It's not the ends of the earth or the land of disappointment. It's neither Hell
nor a smog
-filled cesspool of platinum blonde airheads. No, it's all of these at once, and more, and this is what makes it poetic.
Los Angeles is a polluted city full of beautiful and desperate people. It's an overpopulated desert
. It's content in its contradiction
; it is in cultural excess of everything. It's clusters of palm tree
s against a backdrop of skyscraper
s. It's a gigantic green
and concrete coffee shop
. It boasts the richest people in the country, and the most poor. It's a glittering beacon of beauty
laced with deadly poison.
When I stand on a sidewalk corner, I can look around and see stories everywhere, jumping out, overflowing. It's a city of everything, and everyone has their own tale - of success
, of failure
, of compromise
. Look at the old lady wearing a handkerchief
and pushing a shopping cart
, dancing in circles around the rest of the world. Look at the blonde mother on the freeway
consoling her Hispanic son. Look at the dreadlock
ed drummers underneath purple flowers that line the surface street
s, alternating with palms, dotting the buildings with color. Look at the mohawk
ed boy shuffling into Amoeba Music
with no one else on his arm. Look at the swimmers, at the showers of tourist
s, walking the boardwalk and screaming to the beat of the rollercoaster
on the Santa Monica Pier
Is everything here perfect? Of course not. Perfection
does not make art. Reflection
does. And I use everything as a mirror
: the palm
s, the concrete
, the coffee
shops, the movie star
s, the sun
, the smog
, the freeway
. The police siren
s after dark and going to sleep to the hum of helicopter
s. The neon
from my window, and the fact that you can drive for miles and not see a single building over four stories, then suddenly a high rise
will appear out of nowhere and dominate the landscape.
Like this city, fiction is a mix of the beautiful and the ugly, the profane and the sacred, the stars and the slums. Like this city, it seems to know that moments are wasted on rushing. Like this city, it sees art
in every single day.