For a place that defies easy explanation, Los Angeles has inspired a great many clichés claiming to define what life is like here. L.A. is the city of Hollywood and freeways, earthquakes and urban blight! But local authors are always mapping other ways of understanding the city. One of the latest efforts is LAtitudes, an anthology of essays accompanied by whimsical map illustrations. Its publisher, Malcolm Margolin of Berkeley-based Heyday Books, says LAtitudes attempts to “rip up all the conventional thinking and start afresh,” exploring L.A.’s pop music, ugly buildings, curbside tacos and street names, among other topics.
Several of the book’s 19 authors gathered last May at Clockshop, an arts venue in Atwater near the L.A. River, to discuss their fascinations with the city. Margolin, a respected figure in California’s publishing scene for several decades, shared their enthusiasm. Seated at a picnic table in Clockshop’s lush garden, speaking into the microphone I held just above his billowing white beard, Margolin expressed his vision for L.A. writers to reveal genuine, intimate views of their city.
Hit play to hear the interview.