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Becoming Los Angeles, a new collection by the author of the acclaimed memoir Holy Land, blends history, memory, and critical analysis to illuminate how Angelenos have seen themselves and their city. Waldie's particular concern is commonplace Los Angeles, whose rhythms of daily life are set against the gaudy backdrop of historical myth and Hollywood illusion. It's through sacred ordinariness that Waldie experiences the city's seasons. In his exploration of sprawling Los Angeles, he considers how the city's image was constructed and how it fostered willful amnesia about the city's conflicted past. He encounters the immigrants and exiles, the dreamers and con artists, the celebrated and forgotten who became Los Angeles. He measures the place of nature in the city and the different ways that nature has been defined. He maps on the contours of Los Angeles what embracing--or rejecting--an Angeleno identity has come to mean.
Becoming Los Angeles draws on a decade of Waldie's writing about the intersection of the city's history and its aspirations. He asks, what do we talk about when we talk about Los Angeles today? In a global, cosmopolitan city, is there value in cultivating a local imagination? And he wonders how to describe a city that is denser and more polarized and challenged by climate change, homelessness, and economic disparity. There will always be romance in the idea of Los Angeles, but it requires renewed hope to sustain. Becoming Los Angeles is a further account of how Waldie gained a sense of place, which James Mustich, author of 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die, described as "an almost sacramental act of attention." Becoming Los Angeles is ultimately a book about learning how to fall in love with wherever it is you are. (Angel City Press)
D. J. Waldie is a cultural historian, memoirist, and translator. In books, essays, and online commentary, he has sought to frame the suburban experience as a search for a sense of place. Often using his Southern California hometown of Lakewood as a starting point, Waldie’s work ranges widely over the history of suburbanization and its cultural effects. He has published five non-fiction books, each dealing with different aspects of everyday life. Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir, Real City: Downtown Los Angeles Inside/Out, Where We Are Now: Notes from Los Angeles, and Close to Home: An American.