From one of Vanity Fair’s rising stars comes a brilliant, star-studded portrait of the glamorous and brazen Hollywood artist, muse, and writer Eve Babitz.
Hollywood, California in the 60s and 70s was the cultural capital of America and the world—a movie factory, a music factory, a dream factory. Eve Babitz, the subject of Lili Anolik’s remarkable new book, is Hollywood’s native daughter.
Babitz, the child of bohemian parents and a graduate of Hollywood High, posed, at age twenty, in 1963, with the great French artist Marcel Duchamp. She was naked; he was not. The photo, cheesecake with a Dadaist twist, went on to become one of the most celebrated images of its era. Over the next several years, Babitz turned herself into the West Coast’s answer to Edie Sedgwick: a groupie with an artistic streak (or is that an artist with a groupie streak?). She designed album covers for Buffalo Springfield and Linda Ronstadt, to name but a few, and seduced Jim Morrison, Steve Martin and Harrison Ford, to name but a very few. Though Babitz was famous on the Sunset Strip by her late twenties, she was unknown as a writer. And then, Joan Didion read a short piece Babitz wrote on her alma mater, Hollywood High. Didion passed the piece on to Rolling Stone magazine. Babitz had been discovered.
Over the course of her career, Babitz would publish seven books, usually billed as novels or short story collections, but always autobiographies and confessionals. To quote Dwight Garner of The New York Times, “Reading Eve Babitz is like being out on the warm open road at sundown...going sixty miles per hour with all four windows down. You can feel the wind in your hair.”
Life was “fun and men and trouble” for Babitz until a freak fire in the late 90s turned her into a recluse.
Anolik’s dazzling Hollywood’s Eve is many things: a philosophical investigation, a critical appreciation, a sociological study, a cultural commentary, and a noir-style mystery. What it is above all else, though, is a love story. The lover, Lili Anolik, the love object, Eve Babitz, muse, artist, writer, and one-woman zeitgeist.
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About the Author
Lili Anolik is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. Her work has also appeared in Harper’s, Esquire, and The Believer. She is the author of Hollywood's Eve and lives in New York City with her husband and two small sons.
Read an Excerpt
Hollywood’s Eve isn’t a biography—at least not in the traditional sense. It won’t attempt to impose narrative structure and logic on life, which is (mostly) incoherent and irrational, lived moment-by-moment and instinctively rather than by grand design and purposefully; or to provide explanations, which (mostly) dull and diminish; or to reach conclusions, which are (mostly) hollow and false. In other words, it doesn’t believe, or expect you to, that facts, dates, timelines, firsthand accounts, verifiable sources tell the tale.
Here’s what Hollywood’s Eve is: a biography in the nontraditional sense; a case history as well as a cultural; a critical appreciation; a sociological study; a psychological commentary; a noir-style mystery; a memoir in disguise; and a philosophical investigation as contrary, speculative, and unresolved as its subject. Here’s what Hollywood’s Eve is above all else: a love story. The lover, me. The love object, Eve Babitz, the louche, wayward, headlong, hidden genius of Los Angeles.
A book can be infatuated—hopelessly, helplessly, heedlessly—same as a person. I’m telling you this not as a way of asking for allowances, but for understanding. In the following pages, things might get a little heated, a little weird, a little out of hand. Now you know why.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Few works of art break a mold, create something new. This non-traditional biography pulls us into a brilliantly structured bio/memoir/newjournalism accomplishment. Looking for much more from this author.