10 Los Angeles-Based Memoirs You Must Read
Because in this town, there are so many great stories
Here’s a tip: Forgo your usual beach reading for a book set in the Southland. And not just any book--one of these ten memoirs that follow Hollywood insiders, warriors for social justice and rock stars.
As one writer quips about the L.A. scene, “Nobody knows anything.” But we know you’ll enjoy seeing your home turf as the backdrop of these spicy tales.
Like Hollywood Moguls?
Read The Kid Stays in the Picture: A Notorious Life, by Robert Evans
He produced The Godfather, he romanced Ali MacGraw and he’s straight out of central casting.
Want social justice?
Read Power Concedes Nothing, by Connie Rice
A Harvard-educated lawyer wearing St. John suits heads to the ’hood to help the Bloods and Crips work out a truce. It’s the 20-year struggle of former secretary of state Condolezza Rice’s second cousin to make our city safer.
Have a thing for writers?
Read Adventures in the Screen Tradeby William Goldman
A kid from a troubled home grows up to become an Academy Award-winning screenwriter (he penned Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Princess Bride, among others). This is his tale.
Interested in movie-star royalty?
Read Watch Me, by Anjelica Huston
The sophisticated, wry memoir of a legendary director’s daughter who went on to become a Vogue model and Academy Award-winning actress is compelling. And she breaks up with Jack Nicholson!
Like those bad boys?
Read Permanent Midnight, by Jerry Stahl
A television comedy writer descends into drug addiction--eventually leaving his baby daughter in the car while he scores--wisecracking all the way.
Just in it for the kicks?
Read I’m with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie, by Pamela Des Barres
Romancing Mick Jagger, Robert Plant and Jim Morrison along the Sunset Strip in the pre-AIDS era with a lighthearted sweetness.
Love a handsome, charming man?
Read Stories I Only Tell My Friends, by Rob Lowe
A breezy, name-droppy (in a good way) and wittily told story of a Malibu youngster made good.
Like true-crime stories?
Read Freeway Rick Ross: The Untold Biography, by Rick Ross
An ’80s tale: An illiterate high school tennis star in south L.A. becomes a millionaire by 23 selling a new drug called crack. He’s imprisoned, learns to read and discovers his drug suppliers were making money to support an illegal CIA-backed revolution in Iran.
Dig the rock-and-roll lifestyle?
Check out Scar Tissue, by Anthony Kiedis
Lots of girls, lots of drugs, but also lots of anecdotes about the failed intimacies and creative turmoil behind the Red Hot Chili Peppers, from this frontman of the defining band of the ’90s Los Angeles neo-punk scene.
Never want to grow up?
Read Black Swans, by Eve Babitz
This 1993 book is subtitled “Stories,” but truly this is an alternately playful, rueful memoir. The connecting thread is the narrator’s coming to grips with middle age in a preternaturally young town. Our favorite story is one about sleeping through the L.A. Riots during a days-long tryst at the Chateau Marmont.