Hollywood's Eve : Eve Babitz and the Secret History of L.A.
by Lili Anolik

Overview - "I practically snorted this book, stayed up all night with it. Anolik decodes, ruptures, and ultimately intensifies Eve's singular irresistible glitz." --Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker

"The Eve Babitz book I've been waiting for. 

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More About Hollywood's Eve by Lili Anolik
"I practically snorted this book, stayed up all night with it. Anolik decodes, ruptures, and ultimately intensifies Eve's singular irresistible glitz." --Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker

"The Eve Babitz book I've been waiting for. What emerges isn't just a portrait of a writer, but also of Los Angeles: sprawling, melancholic, and glamorous." --Stephanie Danler, author of Sweetbitter

Los Angeles in the 1960s and 70s was the pop culture capital of the world--a movie factory, a music factory, a dream factory. Eve Babitz was the ultimate factory girl, a pure product of LA.

The goddaughter of Igor Stravinsky and a graduate of Hollywood High, Babitz posed in 1963, at age twenty, playing chess with the French artist Marcel Duchamp. She was naked; he was not. The photograph, cheesecake with a Dadaist twist, made her an instant icon of art and sex. Babitz spent the rest of the decade rocking and rolling on the Sunset Strip, honing her notoriety. There were the album covers she designed: for Buffalo Springfield and the Byrds, to name but a few. There were the men she seduced: Jim Morrison, Ed Ruscha, Harrison Ford, to name but a very few.

Then, at nearly thirty, her It girl days numbered, Babitz was discovered--as a writer--by Joan Didion. She would go on to produce seven books, usually billed as novels or short story collections, always autobiographies and confessionals. Under-known and under-read during her career, she's since experienced a breakthrough. Now in her mid-seventies, she's on the cusp of literary stardom and recognition as an essential--as the essential--LA writer. Her prose achieves that American ideal: art that stays loose, maintains its cool, and is so sheerly enjoyable as to be mistaken for simple entertainment.

For Babitz, life was slow days, fast company until a freak fire in the 90s turned her into a recluse, living in a condo in West Hollywood, where Lili Anolik tracked her down in 2012. Anolik's elegant and provocative new book is equal parts biography and detective story. It is also on dangerously intimate terms with its subject: artist, writer, muse, and one-woman zeitgeist, Eve Babitz.

  • ISBN-13: 9781501125799
  • ISBN-10: 1501125796
  • Publisher: Scribner Book Company
  • Publish Date: January 2019
  • Page Count: 288
  • Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.9 pounds

Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > Entertainment & Performing Arts
Books > Art > Popular Culture
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Literary Figures

BookPage Reviews

Hollywood's Eve

When Joan Didion’s iconic novel Play It as It Lays came out in 1970, it was widely hailed as the ultimate Los Angeles story. But Didion’s friend Eve Babitz didn’t see it that way: Didion was from Sacramento via New York; Babitz was the real LA woman. So she wrote her own book.

Her book of lightly fictionalized autobiographical sketches published in 1974, Eve’s Hollywood, didn’t get the notice that Didion’s work did, but it was fresh, witty and buzzy. More books followed—some great, some not. But then Babitz became a drug addict. And after she got clean, she suffered a life-changing accident. The books stopped coming.

Babitz is still very much alive at 75 and is enjoying being rediscovered, thanks largely to Lili Anolik’s 2014 Vanity Fair article about her. Anolik has now written a smart, fast-paced meditation on Babitz in Hollywood’s Eve. Unsurprisingly, Babitz remains a complicated subject. Here’s a fractional list of Babitz’s lovers, back in the day: Jim Morrison, Steve Martin, Jackson Browne, Ahmet Ertegun, Annie Leibovitz, Warren Zevon—and so on. She appears nude in a photo with Duchamp, playing chess. Igor Stravinsky was her godfather. For a while, her best friend was the guy who inspired BZ in Play It as It Lays.

But Anolik argues that Babitz’s va-va-voom looks and sexual adventurism belied brains and talent. All those men weren’t exploiting her; she was exploiting them for writing fodder, like Proust and his duchesses.

Anolik’s own writing is jazzy and insightful, and her quest to find Babitz—both physically and psychologically—is an integral part of the book. Anolik notes that many of Babitz’s contemporaries misread her as a 1960s Carrie Bradshaw, yet Anolik sees her as ruthless, unencumbered, unapologetic. In other words, an artist.


This article was originally published in the January 2019 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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