Everything Now: Lessons from the City-State of Los Angeles

MCD. Jun. 2021. 272p. ISBN 9780374150426. $27. SOC SCI
Baldwin (Paris, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down) offers up a nonfiction work with the premise that Los Angeles should be considered a modern city-state. Chapters are organized into lessons about the nature of the city and its inhabitants, based on the author’s personal experience, his interviews with other Angelenos, and notable or famous quotes about LA. Baldwin presents anecdotes of the city’s famous and ordinary residents throughout the years (concentrating especially on the 21st century), while also bringing some of the city’s neighborhoods into clear focus. The writing is engaging, and the author argues for the city-state label in a variety of ways, but the book seems like a rather disjointed series of essays and quotes that happen to have a loose association to Los Angeles and its surroundings. The somewhat sprawling narrative takes detours to explore LA’s relation to California in general, and the wide-ranging effects of the city’s ongoing gentrification and its impact on Black and Latinx residents.
VERDICT Was the city-state argument convincing? Unfortunately, no. Was the book interesting to read? Undoubtedly, yes. This book would appeal to readers who enjoy narrative nonfiction, essays, or life in Los Angeles.
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