Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: August 30, 2016
Slow Days, Fast CompanyThe World, the Flesh, and L.A.
by Eve Babitz, introduction by Matthew Specktor
No one burned hotter than Eve Babitz. Possessing skin that radiated “its own kind of moral laws,” spectacular teeth, and a figure that was the stuff of legend, she seduced seemingly everyone who was anyone in Los Angeles for a long stretch of the 1960s and ’70s. One man proved elusive, however, and so Babitz did what she did best, she wrote him a book. Slow Days, Fast Company is a full-fledged and full-bodied evocation of a bygone Southern California that far exceeds its mash-note premise. In ten sun-baked, Santa Ana wind–swept sketches, Babitz re-creates a Los Angeles of movie stars distraught over their success, socialites on three-day drug binges holed up in the Chateau Marmont, soap-opera actors worried that tomorrow’s script will kill them off, Italian femmes fatales even more fatal than Babitz. And she even leaves LA now and then, spending an afternoon at the house of flawless Orange County suburbanites, a day among the grape pickers of the Central Valley, a weekend in Palm Springs where her dreams of romance fizzle and her only solace is Virginia Woolf. In the end it doesn’t matter if Babitz ever gets the guy—she seduces us.
by Eve Babitz, introduction by Matthew Specktor
Reading Eve Babitz is like being out on the warm open road at sundown, with what she called, in another book, '4/60 air conditioning' — that is, going 60 miles per hour with all four windows down. You can feel the wind in your hair.
—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
Babitz's style is cool, conversational, loose, yet weighted with a seemingly effortless poetry. Unlike her contemporary, Joan Didion, Babits isn't staring into the abyss and reporting back; but she does want to tell you how good the light is out by the abyss.
—Andrew Male, The Guardian
What we now call a ‘fictive memoir’ comes in the form of ten extended anecdotes about Los Angeles, delivered with all the gossipy sprezzatura of the most desirable dinner guest. Food, drink, drugs, sex, sunsets and a surfeit of move stars soak these tales with colour, while the most colourful component of all is our narrator herself.
—Hermione Hoby, TLS
Her writing took multiple forms. . . . But in the center was always Babitz and her sensibility—fun and hot and smart, a Henry James–loving party girl.
—Naomi Fry, New Republic
Babitz takes to the page lightly, slipping sharp observations into roving, conversational essays and perfecting a kind of glamorous shrug.
—Kaitlin Phillips, Bookforum
[Babitz] achieved that American ideal: art that stays loose, maintains its cool, is purely enjoyable enough to be mistaken for simple entertainment. It’s a tradition that includes Duke Ellington, Fred Astaire, Preston Sturges, Ed Ruscha, and, it goes without saying, Marilyn Monroe.
—Lili Anolik, Vanity Fair
Undeniably the work of a native, in love with her place. This quality of the intrinsic and the indigenous is precisely what has been missing from almost all the fiction about Hollywood...the accuracy and feeling with which she delineates LA is a fresh quality in California writing.
—Larry McMurtry, The Washington Post
Eve Babitz was Los Angeles' greatest bard. Promiscuous but discerning, the bombshell with a brain bonded with Joan Didion and bedded Jim Morrison… Babitz is finally getting the literary comeback she deserves.
—Lili Loofbourow, The Week
[The] radiantly specific Slow Days, Fast Company...might serve to explicate LA better than any other book I’ve ever read... Like her generational and aesthetic peer Renata Adler, Babitz has a nervous, windblown eye, a knack for perceptual and associative leaps. Like her West Coast fellow Joan Didion, she has a stringent–in fact, rather stark–intelligence...Babitz’s perceptions, her aphoristic formulations, are legion and strike me as both startling and profound.
—Matthew Specktor, Tin House blog
Babitz’s sentences—fluffy, golden, and spunky—which appear flippant…but like Marilyn Monroe infusing the ditz with closeted intellectualism, Babitz has a genius for revealing the depths of ostensibly shallow waters.
—Monica McClure, The Culture Trip
Her dishy, evocative style has never been characterized as Joan Didion-deep but it's inarguably more fun and inviting, providing equally sharp insights on the mood and meaning of Southern California.
—Laura Pearson, Chicago Tribune
In these ten cajoling tales, Los Angeles is the patient, the heroine, hero, victim, and aggressor: the tales a marvel of free-form madness. Like Renata Adler, Eve Babitz has fact, never telling too much.
Babitz’ collection of essays, Slow Days, Fast Company, the best non-fiction written about the Joys of Sensuous LA, I have always thought right up there with Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem.
—Lee Grove, The Boston Globe