“Impatient with ordinary sunsets”: Eve Babitz’s one-liners

Winning the award for the book most unlike what I usually read is Eve Babitz’s Slow Days, Fast Company: The World, The Flesh, and L.A.a sort of impressionistic mini-memoir of Los Angeles in the early 1970s. I can’t say that I had a particular interest in Hollywood party people before picking it up, but it sucked me in nonetheless, mainly because she is such a brilliant writer. One example:

A long time ago my mother and I were driving to a wedding. I had been engaged to both the groom and the best man at one time or another. I was twenty-three, a clerk-typist by day and a groupie- adventuress prowling the hot Sunset Strip at night. I’d broken off with both of those guys because I was impatient with ordinary sunsets; I was sure that somewhere a grandiose carnival was going on in the sky and I was missing it. But still, it made me feel funny having those guys slip away like that.

“Impatient with ordinary sunsets” is just a wonderful turn of phrase.

Once I start excerpting it’s hard to stop, so I’ll confine myself to one of her classic one-liners:

She was an actress, and like all actresses, she was only real when she was pretending.

OK, one more, just because:

Art is supposed to uphold standards of organization and structure, but you can’t have those things in Southern California—people have tried.

The general theme is that Babitz works very hard to seem superficial while actually cutting to the chase.


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