Hollywood’s Eve: Eve Babitz and the Secret History of L.A. (Scribner) by Lili Anolik
January 17, 2019
Dear Mr. Hemingway,
Who is Eve Babitz? I can answer that it one word…Los Angeles. You know, The City of Lights, Tinseltown, La La Land. Eve Babitz was The L.A. Woman of the ’60s and ’70s. Daughter of Sol Babitz (a classical violinist) and Mae Babitz (an artist) and Goddaughter to Igor Stravinsky. She was an artist, a groupie, and a fixture on the L.A. social scene. Most of all though, Eve Babitz was a writer. In Hollywood’s Eve, Lili Anolik chronicles Babitz’s life using personal interviews and snippets from her extensive research. Her story isn’t told through lengthy narratives and timelines. Instead, this biography reads more like a personal account and a detective story wrapped in one. Readers will be launched into a gritty world filled with name dropping, wild nights, and artistic drive. Gossip lovers rejoice. Your thirst is about to be quenched.
Early in her career, Eve Babitz worked as an artist designing album covers for major record companies. Through the years, her writing was published in Rolling Stone Magazine and other publications and eventually into her own books about L.A. Even though her writing was not always well received, Babitz continued putting words on paper. While writing in the 60’s and 70’s, she rubbed elbows with Andy Warhol, Don Henley, Harrison Ford, Steve Martin, Joan Didion, Dan Wakefield, Michelle Phillips, Julian Wasser, Yoko Ono and Warren Beatty, just to name a few. Let me also kindly add that she was very hot and heavy with The Doors’ frontman Jim Morrison and photographer Annie Leibovitz.
Eve Babitz exuded an alluring vibe that attracted a crowd. She wasn’t necessarily glamorous like Marilyn Monroe, but instead more of a natural beauty. She lived a fast paced life where alcohol, drugs and sex fueled her creativity. Her pastimes included writing and fraternizing with the famous and yet to be famous crowd at Hollywood’s biggest hot spots (i.e. Troubadour, Ports and The Chateau Marmont). Babitz was no joke. Anyone who carried their diaphragm in a matchbox in their handbag was ready to play. She had no interest in adulthood and marriage wasn’t on her radar. By not trying at all, she inadvertently became the “It Girl” of Hollywood. Babitz’s alcohol and drug abuse eventually took its toll on the quality of her writing. With her books out of print and an accidental fire leaving part of her body severely burned, Babitz fell off the literary grid. How she got to where she is today (yes, she is still alive) is unveiled as the book continues through her later years.
What I love about Hollywood’s Eve is that it truly captures the spirit of Eve Babitz. Anolik did her homework. Her research on Babitz was stellar. Her writing is raw and her words are razor sharp. She introduced me to a powerhouse of a woman that I never knew much about. She transported me back in time to an L.A. I will never experience, but felt like I was a part of while reading her book. In writing Hollywood’s Eve, Anolik sparked a renewed interest in Babitz’s life and body of work. Recently, Babitz’s writing has been dusted off, reprinted and back in the eyes of its readers where it rightfully belongs. At age 75, Eve Babitz remains a Hollywood icon whose writing not only is socially significant, but has stood the test of time.
I hope this book dazzles readers like it did me! It’s just that cool.
Until next time Mr. H.
Your Biggest Fan,
P.S. To piss off her then married boyfriend (1963), Eve (age 20) posed nude while playing chess with artist and fully clothed Marcel Duchamp (age 76) for Julian Wasser (photographer). Little did she know at that moment how powerful this photograph would be. This iconic photo turned Eve Babitz into an overnight sensation.