So L.A. by Bridget Hoida

“In Bridget Hoida’s So L.A. [...] One woman juggles the five stages of grief in this novel’s cutting portrait of a marriage’s slow-motion deterioration. [...] Prone to embellishment, melodrama and laugh-out-loud set pieces, Hoida gives her [protagonist] 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.”

-Kirkus Reviews

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“This is an exceptional first novel. [...] So L.A. is a little autobiographical and a lot experimental as Magdalena’s subsequent unraveling turns the city into a sometimes trite but often revealing “soul” window. Hoida’s style makes the story seamless–for instance, she avoids using quotation marks in passages of dialogue. But in the end, as in all good endings, her protagonist finds a new determination and a new dream. We leave Magdalena anticipating a successful rebuilding in her altered, but more realistic, lifestyle.”

-Jane Glenn Haas, “True Grist” Orange Coast Magazine, September 2012
“A protagonist’s soul is revealed only through the expertise of a skilled writer capable of capturing every thought, mood, and emotion. In So L.A., Bridget Hoida creates a poignant exploration of a grief-stricken artist’s mind as she learns to accept the accidental rock-climbing death of her younger brother and the gradual demise of her marriage to a wealthy businessman.”

-Julia Ann Charpentier, ForeWord Clarion Review

“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 

“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

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.

A California native, Bridget Hoida peers past the high-gloss veneer of her home state to illuminate the inhabitants of the Golden State via a dystopian lens. From the parched grape farms of the San Joaquin Valley to the scuffed cement of the Sunset Strip Hoida offers a glimpse of Los Angeles that is as painful as it is pretty. Praised by fellow writers, journal editors, and prized juries as a distinctive and noteworthy new voice, Bridget Hoida makes her novel debut with So L.A.

Bridget Hoida grew up in Northern California on an eight-mile road. Flanked by grapevines and asparagus. Hoida was determined to escape her agrarian upbringing. Armed with a BA from UC Berkeley and a MA in fiction writing from San Francisco State, Hoida filled her tank with gas (and her trunk with books) and set off in a stick shift for Los Angeles. “I don’t know what I was thinking,” Hoida admits. “Perhaps I was channeling a B-movie cliché, but I really did take my first steps on the streets of Los Angeles in a pair of Birkenstocks and a tie-dyed sundress.”

Like her main character, Magdalena de la Cruz, Hoida had trouble reconciling her Northern California roots with the strict beauty code of Los Angeles. Newly enrolled in the innovative Literature & Creative Writing PhD at USC, and teaching an undergraduate course called: “Social Issues in Sex & Gender,” Hoida decided to explore the L.A. Woman as an academic and literary subject. “They were everywhere,” Hoida states, “these tanned and toned beauties sipping seltzer water at Chin Chins; queued up behind the velvet ropes at Area; walking across the USC campus in three inch Jimmy Choos, void of any imperfection and smelling like cocoa butter with a hint of cinnamon toast. I wanted to be them and yet I also wanted to wipe off their mascara, deflate their implants, and give them a hug.”  That’s how Magdalena, the main character of Hoida’s novel, So L.A., was born.

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A transplant like Hoida, Magdalena de la Cruz struggles to navigate the blinding glare of perpetual sunshine in the southland. Escaping the traumatic and sudden death of her twin brother, Junah. Magdalena uses her body as a canvas of reinvention. “When Junah died I stopped wanting to be me” Magdalena says as she literally cuts any resemblance between herself and her brother “out with sleek scalpels.” In Magdalena’s own words she “refashion[ed] myself in skin temporarily scarred with puffy red staples. I doused my face in designer tonics to erase the light brown spots of San Joaquin sun. I surrender[ed] to filthy, exorbitant whims…”. As Magdalena takes refuge in boutiques and Botox—seeking desperately for something to fill the void her brother has left—her marriage to Ricky, a socially conscious first-generation Mexican-American, is in jeopardy; her few friendships begin to unravel; and Diamond Myst, her booming designer water business, is drying up.

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Like a lane change on the 405 freeway during rush hour, Bridget Hoida skillfully navigates the impossible. In So L.A. Hoida offers both a satirical and sympathetic 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.

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