TLC Book Tour: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile

The following review by appeared on the blog Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile.

You can find the full article here: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile

At first glance So L.A. might draw you in with its gorgeous cover. It might entice you with its chick-lit feel. However I can promise you that what is in these pages is so much more than that. A mixture of dry satirical humor, and a no-holds-barred look at the culture that is L.A., this is a story that is hard to define. What I can say, is that it is brilliant.

I think it’s fitting that I read this book while sitting in a 60 story sky rise in Downtown L.A. Overlooking the hub of the busiest parts of Wilshire Boulevard. This is the setting that Hoida chooses for her book, and it works wonders with Magdalena’s story. From small town girl, to big city business owner, Magdalena’s point of view is a fresh and honest take of the high society that is Beverly Hills. Her life is by no means perfect. Sure, she has the perfect shoes, the perfect house and even the perfect nose. She soon finds though, that all those things don’t add up to a happy life.

It’s honestly hard to like Magdalena because of how exasperating she can be sometimes. She is definitely a character that you want to save and slap in equal measures. Trying, and failing, to cope with the death of her brother is all that Magdalena does the majority of the book. However, it’s definitely true to life. She tries to fill the gap with things, with fake people, with fake smiles. All the time falling deeper and deeper into the craziness that her life has become.

In the end So L.A. is about hiding from oneself. About changing what is on the outside to try to compensate for what’s on the inside. I won’t say that Magdalena’s story is happy. It does show how easy it is to fall into a life that isn’t your own. About how easy it is to feel lost, but hide it from the outside world. Briget Hoida’s book may look like chick-lit at first glance, but it’s infinitely more than that. I loved it, and I think you will too.

Bridget Hoida on: Why I Write

I’ve always loved liars.

Writers who speak in hyperbole and whose pages are bursting with extraordinary exaggeration are totally my cup of tea. Like love stories. And war stories. Stories about childhood and politics and everything in-between. Especially, when guised as the truth. Especially when cloaked for the sake of story.

Portrait of Anais Nin taken in NYC in 70s by E...

And speaking such, I want to share a story with you. It’s not mine, that much is true. I came across it in the stacks of the periodical room, back when journals were bound twice yearly with thick leather backs and kept in rooms called libraries. I used to work in one such magical place. I was the assistant librarian in the Periodical, Newspaper, and Microfiche room at the Doe Library of UC Berkeley. I loved my job. And in ways most bibliophiles can understand, I miss that job more than I miss my youth. Because for me that job was my youth. It was paper and newsprint and dusty stacks of words that I would turn when I was supposed to be shelving or referencing or otherwise amending. But like every other assistant librarian, every volume I shelved was a volume I read. So there I was in the belly of the basement of PNM–while the microfiche machines hummed and clinking nickels made Xerox copies– reading serialized love stories of Henry and June. I will not lie. I do not remember who wrote it. I do not remember what journal or even what year. I am a bad librarian. But I remember the words:

“There is a hotel in Paris, above a café, of course, where Anais Nin and Henry Miller met for the first time and then made their way up to room 41. They brought along a picture of June, I swear to God they did, and they set it on the nightstand, (or perhaps it was already there). What they did next biographers are uncertain, but it involved most definitely Anais, Henry and Henry’s jacket. In Henry’s version he took the jacket off, laid it on the bed and Anais, naked lay upon it. In Anais’ version Henry took off all his clothes and wore the coat on top of both the bed and the woman. In June’s version the jacket was on the floor, out of June’s sight. Henry and Anais made love on top of it. Anais wore black lace underwear and when they were finished, Henry did a somersault on the bed and said to Anais, What? You expected more brutality?

“Before they met they had agreed to be platonic. Six days earlier, March 2, in a letter, Anais had sworn to Henry with silver ink on purple paper:  The woman will sit eternally in the tall black armchair. I will be the one woman you will never have. Excessive living weighs down the imagination. We will not live, we will only write and talk and sail the swells. Writers make love to what they need.”

Writers make love to the truth they need.

And in truth, the jacket is why I write.

This post, originally entitled “Lie To Me” first appeared on Ladies Who Proust: the real life Proustian heroines. To read the article in full and to find out how Henry’s jacket relates to Marcel’s cup of tea click here: Ladies Who Proust

Bridget Hoida on: hard beauty

I’ve always had, at best, a tumultuous relationship with Los Angeles. It’s like that with things you love enormously. So when I came across this breathless quote by Michael Ventura, in his essay “Grand Illusion” I knew it was the only place to start my book:

 “The beauty [of Los Angeles] is the beauty of letting things go; letting go of where you came from; letting go of old lessons; letting go of what you want for what you are, or what you are for what you want; letting go of so much—and that is a hard beauty to love.”

So L.A. –dare I suggest like Los Angeles itself– is fraught with beauty and self-loathing. Not only do the palm trees of Sunset clash with the Central Valley combines that supply L.A. readily with the organic soy for her venti lattes, but I’m readily convinced that the tanned and toned flesh of most every Angelino secretly yearns for the soothing balm of an aloe wrap in San Joaquin starlight. When I first moved to L.A. I was told I would have to give up the levees and lakes of the California where I was raised in order to embrace the wave-crashed beaches of the Los Angeles enigma. Twelve years later, I realize that you can let go without relinquishing everything and that beauty, no matter how hard (or hard earned) is always still beautiful.

Magdalena on: the freeway

I like to drive. Not to anywhere in particular because I have no place in particular to go, but I’m addicted to freeways. The 405 to the 10 to the 110 to the 101. It’s so L.A. I used to like driving more when I had a piece-of-shit Escort. It was a stick shift and unreliable and I never knew where I’d end up stranded. Since the move to L.A., nothing’s been unreliable, at least in terms of cars and appliances.