Dear Los Angeles: The City in Diaries and Letters, 1542-2018

David Kipen

Random House, 2018

Agent: Sandra Dijkstra

A rich mosaic of diary entries and letters from Marilyn Monroe, Cesar Chavez, Susan Sontag, Albert Einstein, and many more, this is the story of Los Angeles as told by locals, transplants, and some just passing through.

David Kipen scoured the archives of libraries, historical societies, and private estates to assemble a kaleidoscopic view of Los Angeles from the Spanish missionary expeditions in the 1500s to the present day. These entries are arranged by date--January 1 through December 31--but are selected from more than three centuries of writing by those living in, or visiting, Los Angeles. Thus the entry for January 21, for example, will have an excerpt from Benjamin Hayes in 1850, F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1938, Charlton Heston in 1957, John Lennon in 1974, and a blogger in 2011. In the process, readers get a wonderful glimpse of life in this city through the ages.

Profound, historical, whimsical, this rich mix of letters and diary entries marking each day of the year offers intimate flashes of life in Los Angeles over the past four centuries.

"The love-hate relationship between L.A. and its inhabitants comes alive in this scintillating collection of letters and diary entries....Readers fascinated by the town will find an engrossing trove of colorful, witty insights here."
Publisher's Weekly (starred)

“This book’s a brilliant constellation, spread out over a few centuries and five thousand square miles. Each tiny entry pins the reality of the great unreal city of Angels to a moment in human time – moments enthralled, appalled, jubilant, suffering, gossiping or bragging – and it turns out, there’s no better way to paint a picture of the place.”
Jonathan Lethem