So L. A.: A Novel

So L. A.: A Novel

3.5 2
by Bridget Hoida
     
 

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Beautiful Magdalena de la Cruz breezed through Berkeley and built an empire selling designer water. She'd never felt awkward or unattractive... until she moved to Los Angeles. In L.A. where "everything smells like acetone and Errol Flynn" Magdalena attempts to reinvent herself as a geographically appropriate bombshell-with rhinestones, silicone and gin-as she seeks an

Overview

Beautiful Magdalena de la Cruz breezed through Berkeley and built an empire selling designer water. She'd never felt awkward or unattractive... until she moved to Los Angeles. In L.A. where "everything smells like acetone and Errol Flynn" Magdalena attempts to reinvent herself as a geographically appropriate bombshell-with rhinestones, silicone and gin-as she seeks an escape from her unraveling marriage and the traumatic death of her younger brother, Junah.

Magdalena's Los Angeles is glitzy and glamorous but also a landscape of the absurd. Her languidly lyrical voice provides a travel guide for a city of make-believe, where even Hollywood insiders feel left out.

Like a lane change on the 405 freeway during rush hour, Bridget Hoida, skillfully navigates the impossible in So L.A. offering a portrait of contemporary Los Angeles through the penetrating prose of her female protagonist. Evoking a dynamic and materialist landscape, So L.A. introduces readers to the unforgettable voice of an extremely talented new writer.

"Bridget is a rare thing - an original writer with a unique voice. Her writing is ironic, satirical, smart, sexy and deeply tender. This is a book Joan Didion will wish she'd written!" - Chris Abani, author of The Virgin of Flames and Song For Night

"Bridget Hoida has crafted a remarkably fine novel. The language of this work is fresh, surprising and relentless. The novel captures California, it captures the culture, it captures this one woman's life and it captured me. This is strong stuff from a strong talent. Hoida's voice is here to stay." -Percival Everett, author of Assumption and Erasure

"In So L.A., Bridget Hoida has crafted that rarest of books: intelligent, gorgeously written-and, best of all, fun. The charming, witty and slightly off-kilter voice of narrator Magdalena de la Cruz brings to mind the writing of Nabokov-but in a distinctly California style: Magdalena is a six-foot blonde rhinestone artist with acrylic nails and silicone breasts living in the heart of Los Angeles. She is, by turns, endearing, frustrating and heart-breaking as she tries to salvage her dissolving marriage in the wake of her brother's death. Hoida's sharp, exquisite prose awed me, and brought me to both laughter and tears." -Shawna Yang Ryan, author of Water Ghosts

"Both heartbreaking and hilarious, Bridget Hoida's novel is a stunning debut. Inventive and deeply poetic, charming and wickedly witty, this is a work of lasting and profound satisfactions." -David St. John, author of The Red Leaves of Night

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
One woman juggles the five stages of grief in this novel's cutting portrait of a marriage's slow-motion deterioration. Twenty-nine-year-old, 6-foot-tall Magdalena de la Cruz (nee Jablonowski) mourns the death of her "Polish twin" brother, Junah; they were born 19 months apart, though they were nearly identical. A Northern California viticulturist turned water mogul, Magda begins her story while desperately treading water in the Pacific Ocean after falling overboard. After Junah's death, she explains, she's done everything to "rebirth herself": moving to LA and erasing the many physical similarities she shared with her brother. She's been Lasiked, Jeuvedermed and Botoxed; pumped with saline, small white pills and gin--everything "short of a corneal transplant." Yet nothing brings her closer to Ricky, her overcommitted (possibly unfaithful) husband, or to the acceptance of grief, as her psychiatrist advises. Magda agrees to see "the Shrink"--a female therapist "highly recommended by Eric Clapton's personal assistant"--only because it gives her 45 minutes of alone time with Ricky in rush-hour traffic. As they drive their tanklike Mercedes home from "Lynda Carter's Hillary for President Beach Bonfire and Benefit in Malibu," Ricky stops in "the dead middle of Sunset" and violently takes her, as drivers honk, scream and drive around them. Despite the blood, bruising and noise, Magda feels nothing. Instead, she sets out to discover what it's like to be unfaithful, hooking up with Quentin, a tattooed rock-star wannabe. After the "third worst day" of her life, when she realizes "infidelity wasn't fun," Magda returns to her hometown to rediscover the beauty of a place that also smells like cow manure. She seeks solace in art, eventually making a larger-than-life self-portrait out of rhinestones. Prone to embellishment, melodrama and laugh-out-loud set pieces, Magda isn't an unreliable narrator, even though she admits to being "inconsistent." Hoida gives her a sure and steady voice, full of caustic wit and raw emotion. With bright similes and shining epigrams, she gleefully mines Tinseltown tropes while skewering class, consumerism and body image. Revelations are punctuated with punch lines that land squarely in the gut. Although the ending is abrupt, it's as clever as the rest of the book. Best of all, it leaves hope that readers haven't seen the end of Magda. In this razor-sharp debut, grief and loathing beget a juicy tragicomedy.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780985129415
Publisher:
Lettered Press
Publication date:
04/28/2012
Pages:
382
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.85(d)
Age Range:
16 Years

What People are saying about this

David St. John
Both heartbreaking and hilarious, Bridget Hoida's novel is a stunning debut. Inventive and deeply poetic, charming and wickedly witty, this is a work of lasting and profound satisfactions. —David St. John, author of The Red Leaves of Night
Aimee Bender
Electric, funny, lively, edged prose illuminates the pages of So L.A. —Hoida knows how to write sentences and characters that bite right into you. —Aimee Bender, author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
Shawna Yang Ryan
In So L.A., Bridget Hoida has crafted that rarest of books: intelligent, gorgeously written and, best of all, fun. The charming, witty and slightly off-kilter voice of narrator Magdalena de la Cruz brings to mind the writing of Nabokov but in a distinctly California style: Magdalena is a six-foot blonde rhinestone artist with acrylic nails and silicone breasts living in the heart of Los Angeles. She is, by turns, endearing, frustrating and heart-breaking as she tries to salvage her dissolving marriage in the wake of her brother's death. Hoida's sharp, exquisite prose awed me, and brought me to both laughter and tears. —Shawna Yang Ryan, author of Water Ghosts
Percival Everett
Bridget Hoida has crafted a remarkably fine novel. The language of this work is fresh, surprising and relentless. The novel captures California, it captures the culture, it captures this one woman's life and it captured me. This is strong stuff from a strong talent. Hoida's voice is here to stay. —Percival Everett, author of Assumption and Erasure
Chris Abani
Bridget is a rare thing an original writer with a unique voice. Her writing is ironic, satirical, smart, sexy and deeply tender. This is a book Joan Didion will wish she'd written! —Chris Abani, author of Graceland

Meet the Author

Bridget Hoida lives and writes in Southern California.

In a past life she was a librarian, a DJ, a high school teacher and a barista. In this life she experiments with poetry and fiction and has taught writing at UC Irvine, the University of Southern California and Saddleback College.

Bridget is the recipient of an Anna Bing Arnold Fellowship and the Edward Moses prize for fiction. She was a finalist in the Joseph Henry Jackson/San Francisco Intersection for the Arts Award for a first novel and the William Faulkner Pirate's Alley first novel contest. Her short stories have appeared in the Berkeley Fiction Review, Mary, and Faultline Journal, among others, and she was a finalist in the Iowa Review Fiction Prize and the Glimmer Train New Writer's Short Story Contest. Her poetry has been recognized as an Academy of American Poets Prize finalist and she was a Future Professoriate Scholar at USC.

She has a BA from UC Berkeley and a Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California.

So L.A. is her first novel.

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So L. A.: A Novel 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings What a book, definitely a different take on life on Los Angeles and maybe not the prettiest look at it. The reader is taken on a loopy journey through life in LA with Magdalena as the tour guide. Magdalena is trying to cope with the loss of her sibling, a marriage that is falling apart and a loss of interest in her job.
Karin_Marie More than 1 year ago
From the very beginning to the very end, this book had me eagerly guessing about what would happen next and I often guessed wrong, which is part of what I love about this book. On one hand, I feel as though I have nothing in common with Magdalena, the main character of the book and the one who talks to you, the reader, directly, and holds your hand as you experience her wild, self-destructive, never-a-dull-moment journey. On the other hand, Magdalena reminds me of the part of me, and everyone, that you hope for your own sake never wins out against the rational, take-a-deep-breath-before-you-decide-what-to-do part of yourself. The book is very entertaining and cleverly written, with enough specific references about California and life in general to make you have to keep reminding yourself it's fiction. I found myself stealing time away from my kids and husband to read just a few more pages of this book. Highly recommend!