SOCIAL SCIENCES

City at the Edge of Forever: Los Angeles Reimagined

Viking. Aug. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9780525561934. $28. SOC SCI
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Lunenfeld’s (Snap to Grid) latest collection of essays finds itself at the intersection of cultural theory, aesthetics, and technology—territory familiar to the author. In this work, the author weaves stories of the history that made Los Angeles the (oft-stereotyped) landmark it is and draws some cautionary conclusions about the city’s future. These pieces link the seemingly unrelated (e.g., Hugh Hefner and Walt Disney; surfing culture and Austro-Hungarian immigrants), but speak to Lunenfeld’s view of L.A. as an alchemical city, where its elemental air, earth, water, fire, and aether—seen in this case as Hollywood’s glamour—combine to create a place that feels perpetually at the edge of forever. This book delves into both the stereotypes and glitz of Hollywood, while also pointing out L.A.’s underlying racism, injustice, and intolerance that exploded into rioting and unrest on several occasions. The author proffers both praise and critique in equal measure, offering a distinct perspective on a city he clearly loves, drawing connections and highlighting serendipities that make the sprawling metropolis so quintessentially itself.
VERDICT Readers with an interest in modern U.S. history, pop culture, and art and architecture should find this to be engaging.

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