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Literary Hot Spots L.A.
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Santa Monica Pier

New York City embraces literary landmarks the way vermouth and gin saddle up to each other to create a classic martini. The city’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, for instance, connects with J.D. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield when Holden goes there to wait for his sister Phoebe. The windows of Tiffany’s conjure Holly Golightly eyeing the jewelry in Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's. On the other coast, Los Angeles is just as rich in writers and literary hot spots.

Four classic writers have brought their own unique outlooks to their visions of L.A.: Raymond Chandler (The Big Sleep), John Fante (Ask the Dust), Nathanael West (The Day of the Locust), and Joan Didion's (though her incredible essays and her novel Play It As It Lays).

Add to them a number of more modern and well-noted writers. The women include Sara Davidson, Kate Braverman, Wanda Coleman, Sandra Tsing Loh, Aimee Bender, Carolyn See, Lisa See, Mona Simpson, Susan Straight, Rachel Resnick, Octavia Butler, and Diana Wagman, among others.

With them join such men as Walter Mosley, John Rechy, Hector Tobar, TC Boyle, Charles Bukowski, Bret Easton Ellis, John Gregory Dunne, Bernard Cooper, Christopher Isherwood, Steve Erickson, Chester Himes, James Ellroy, Michael Tolkin, Jim Krusoe, David Scott Milton, Benjamin Weisman, Michael Nava, Budd Schulberg, Bruce Wagner, Gary Indiana, and myself, Christopher Meeks, among others. If you want great cultural critics of Los Angeles, add Mike Davis and Norman Klein to the top of your lists.

So many places, so many authors, necessitates a kind of eclectic smorgasbord of ten spots to visit. Here is an an example:

The Santa Monica Pier

The Santa Monica Pier appears in Raymond Chandler's books multiple times, most notably in the climactic scene in "Farewell, My Lovely." Chandler thinly disguises Santa Monica as Bay City, and describes the pier as a "lightless finger [that] jutted seaward into the dark." At the end of the dock, detective Philip Marlowe boards a small boat that zips out to a gambling ship, where he finds trouble. In real life, beginning in 1928, gambling ships anchored off the coast of Santa Monica, though this practice ended in the late thirties when they were shut down for being a nuisance. The original Santa Monica Pleasure Pier was built in 1916, and a carousel was built on it in 1922, which you can still ride. There are also a variety of rides, shops, an arcade and restaurants on the pier. Colorado Avenue at Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica.

For nine more spots (and a different, shorter opening), go to my article at AOL Travel at: http://news.travel.aol.com/2010/12/21/literary-hot-spots-los-angeles/

Thanks goes to Gina Misiroglu of Red Room for setting this up.