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Who are L.A.'s greatest?

Bret Easton EllisF. Scott FitzgeraldHelen Hunt JacksonLA's greatestSteve Lopezwriters


L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez is on the hunt for the city's most admirable Angelenos. Specifically, he says, he wants to find the "all-time best do-gooders, mensches and sweethearts."

While a book by a do-gooder sounds, I'm afraid, like a bad idea, aren't novelists, in their own way, doing  good? Doesn't it take a mensch-like honor and integrity to hold a mirror up to society -- or one's self -- and publish it in a book? Even if stories don't feed the hungry or shelter the wretched, can't we say they nourish our hearts and minds, that they enrich our culture?

OK, that's a little much. But.

The fact is that writers are an essential part of Southern California. From Helen Hunt Jackson's "Ramona," in 1884, which lured Easterners with its idyllic vision of the Southland, to the bankrupt paradise of Bret Easton Ellis' "Less Than Zero," published 101 years later, Angelenos have invented and reinvented the city through their prose. We think of F. Scott Fitzgerald as quintessentially New York, but even he came to L.A.  -- to Hollywood -- to write.

Wouldn't it be a shame if there were no writers on Lopez's list? Who would you nominate?

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photos: Left, a file photo of F. Scott Fizgerald in Hollywood in 1939. Right, Bret Easton Ellis in West Hollywood in 2008. Credit: Barbara Davis / Los Angeles Times

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Any self-respecting writer would be embarrassed to be on a list of do-gooders.

L.A. indeed is, more than most, a creation of writers (film, too, of course, but that starts with a script). I posted some of these already with Lopez's article, but it doesn't hurt to repeat:
1. John Fante
2. Nathaniel West
3. Ray Bradbury
4. Terry Southern
5. Joan Didion
6. Aldous Huxley
7. Charles Bukowski
8. Raymond Chandler

Let us not forget Anita Loos.

See: Beach of the King, The Early History of Playa Del Rey, Westchester and Playa Vista, California by David J Dukesherer

I just got my copy of this unbeliveable book by Duke Dukesherer, from amazon.com.

It is a complete history of Playa Del Rey and Westchester and the Westside. In fact it covers much, much more.

Now, this is on of the REALLY GOOD GUYS IN LA!

Great read,

Tracy Shepherd
Torrance, CA

Fante, John, and Fante, Dan are the pillars of L.A. fiction.

Dear "Duke" Dukesherer.

I am writing to you to express my profound gratitute and great elation in receiving both copies of separate books you have authored. Playa del Rey and the Curious Case of Coach Tom Lieb.

I can't thank you enough for favoring me with these two superbly written, meticulously researched and beautifully designed books. The archival photographs and postcards displayed were of a rarefied vintage and were splendidly complemented by your insightful commentary.

living in Playa del Rey for nearly forty years, I have always cherished the quaint charm and allure of this sweeping grandiose Beach enclave. My wistful enchantment of this area was decidedly enriched through the deftness of the printed words you have woven in your inspiring books.

With sincere thanks and appreciation,
Bill Weber


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