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Coming to Terms with Los Angeles

David L. Ulin (Author)

Available worldwide

Hardcover, 152 pages
ISBN: 9780520273726
October 2015
$16.95, £12.95
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In Sidewalking, David L. Ulin offers a compelling inquiry into the evolving landscape of Los Angeles. Part personal narrative, part investigation of the city as both idea and environment, Sidewalking is many things: a discussion of Los Angeles as urban space, a history of the city’s built environment, a meditation on the author’s relationship to the city, and a rumination on the art of urban walking. Exploring Los Angeles through the soles of his feet, Ulin gets at the experience of its street life, drawing from urban theory, pop culture, and literature. For readers interested in the culture of Los Angeles, this book offers a pointed look beneath the surface in order to see, and engage with, the city on its own terms.

Street, Haunting
Los Angeles Plays Itself
Falling Down
Mapping History
Miracle Mile
A Walker, in the City
David L. Ulin is the author or editor of eight previous books, including The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time and the Library of America’s Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology, which won a California Book Award. A 2015 Guggenheim Fellow, he is book critic, and former book editor, of the Los Angeles Times.
"In this brief but engaging book, the author chronicles his wanderings through the streets and his conversations with friends, entrepreneurs, and officials, and he makes it clear that he has read every book and seen every movie on his subject. Those who know the city will have the advantage, but Ulin casts his net widely, so most readers will enjoy his observations of Los Angeles in literary and popular art as well as his thoughtful personal views."—Kirkus
"In Sidewalking, Los Angeles Times book critic David L. Ulin wanders L.A.—along Wilshire, around Bunker Hill, through the Grove—and as he does, he ponders the city’s fading past and emerging future. A self-described 'reluctant Angeleno,' Ulin, who moved here from New York in 1991, brings a sharp eye, a good pair of legs, and a sensitive thoughtfulness to the subject of urban sprawl. Ulin’s musings are immediately relevant, covering everything from the Metro Purple Line extension to Rick Caruso’s proposed downtown trolley to Councilman Jose Huizar’s Bringing Back Broadway campaign."—Los Angeles Magazine
"The moments of true beauty in this shortest of books are precisely when Ulin reminds us that the everyday texture of Los Angeles . . . already functions like a quantum field out of which distant influences, disorienting urban rebirths and half-remembered cinematic cameos are constantly emerging. It is a city of 'seismic existentialism,' he wonderfully suggests, whose ground is shaken not just by earthquakes but by the seemingly endless eruption of alternative urban forms, often successfully breaking through."—Geoff Manaugh Los Angeles Times
"Walking in Los Angeles is not an oxymoron. In this revealing meditation on what it means to pound the pavement in the City of Automobiles, book critic David L. Ulin observes a Los Angeles that many of us didn't even knew existed. . . . Thoughtful and poetic, Ulin's small volume proves there is more to the City of Angels than just beaches, movie stars and abundant sunshine."—June Sawyers Chicago Tribune
"In a series of fascinating, at times impressionistic, disquisitions [Ulin] unlocks some of Los Angeles’s “hieroglyphic” secrets. Step right up then for Ulin’s tour of Los Angeles, a diffuse city full of 'nonlandmark landmarks.' . . . The pleasure of Sidewalking is watching Ulin contextualize each place by considering the way its history is preserved, effaced, or buried under the surface."

—Matt Seidel Los Angeles Review of Books
"David Ulin’s Sidewalking opens LA up for all of us—locals or not. A quietly stirring book, this should be on your must-read list. . . . I loved it and can’t wait to read it again and again."—Anna March The Rumpus
"In SidewalkingDavid Ulin brilliantly reflects on the city as experienced by someone with a need to walk, a need to savor streetscapes, registering signage, vistas, vegetation, fellow citizens. And while Ulin walks, he thinks: processing traces of history, architectural styles, street plans, demographics, changes. A longtime L.A. Times book critic, Ulin, intimately familiar with the best that’s ever been written about this sprawling, layered city, also artfully folds in the perceptions of others. Memories, observations, bygone L.A., 21st-century L.A.—Ulin’s superlative tapestry makes this the latest of great literary takes on the City of Angels."—Bookish
"Sidewalking is a profound and poetic book. It is a meditation not only on the strange and marvelous nature of Los Angeles but also on the nature of history, memory, and community itself. This is nonfiction writing at its very best."
—Susan Orlean, staff writer for the New Yorker and author of seven books, including the New York Times bestseller The Orchid Thief

Sidewalking will cement David Ulin’s already well-deserved reputation as a leading literary critic. Like a good, long walk, his book is an exercise in patience, observation, and reflection. At the end of the journey, you feel you’ve been someplace—and you feel illuminated and enlightened."
—Héctor Tobar, author of the New York Times bestseller Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free

"An inspiring challenge to engage with urban life, Sidewalking raises unprejudiced questions about city and 'city'—the built environment and the individual’s own experience of it. L.A.'s famous sprawl and very human neighborhoods, its uneasy meld of public and private spaces, its legendary gridlock, its organic and artificial environments, all feature in what is no less than the teasing out of a new and nuanced interpretation of the nature of 'urbanity’ itself."
—Janet Fitch, author of Paint It Black and White Oleander

"I see this book as a benign remake of [the movie] Falling Down. In this version, Michael Douglas, after abandoning his car, has the good fortune to bump into David Ulin, who not only offers to accompany him on his journey home but also suggests a few extensive detours. In the course of their walking-talk tour, Douglas learns that he has the good fortune to reside in a fascinating city and goes on to live a fulfilled—and inquiring—life."  
—Geoff Dyer, author of numerous books, including But Beautiful, winner of the Somerset Maugham Prize

"There are so many lines in this book I’d like to have at my fingertips, so many rational, logical, wholly original arguments for why Los Angeles is deeper and more soulful than it can seem, that I almost wish I could keep it in my pocket for whenever an outsider coughs up the usual hoary insults. As it is, Sidewalking has taken up welcome and necessary residence in my mind. And, to be precise, David Ulin doesn’t argue on behalf of his adopted city. He observes, he challenges, he shows his abiding and complicated love for the place. Which is only right, since when it comes to L.A.’s status as the most surprising and mysterious city in America, there is no argument." —Meghan Daum, author of The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion

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