Last month Cory reviewed Ry Cooder's album, Pull Up Some Dust And Sit Down, describing the songs as "a combination of Mexican-style corridos, stomping blues, shitkicking C&W tracks, and other forms of great American music." Cooder has also written a book of short stories, Los Angeles Stories, and the publisher has given us an excerpt. If you live in LA, you can meet him and listen to his talk about Los Angeles Stories at Book Soup tonight (Oct. 12).
Los Angeles Stories is a collection of loosely linked tales that evoke a bygone era in one of America's most iconic cities. In post-World War II Los Angeles, as power was concentrating and fortunes were being made, a do-it-yourself culture of cool cats, outsiders and oddballs populated the old downtown neighborhoods of Bunker Hill and Chavez Ravine. Ordinary working folks rubbed elbows with petty criminals, grifters and all sorts of women at foggy end-of-the-line outposts in Venice Beach and Santa Monica.
Rich with the essence and character of the times, suffused with patois of the city's underclass, these are stories about the common people of Los Angeles, "a sunny place for shady people," and the strange things that happen to them. Musicians, gun shop owners, streetwalkers, tailors, door-to-door salesmen, drifters, housewives, dentists and pornographers, new arrivals and hard-bitten denizens all intersect in cleverly plotted stories that center around some kind of shadowy activity. This quirky love letter to a lost way of life will appeal to fans of hard-boiled fiction and anyone interested in the city itself.