FEATURING: Emily Ratajkowski, Rosecrans Baldwin, Porochista Khakpour, Kyla Wazana Tompkins, Anthony Christian Ocampo, Chloe Watlington, Rosie Stockton, Rachel Rabbit White, Lindsay Gellman, Geoff Nicholson, Lisa Teasley, Yxta Maya Murray, Oliver Wang, Ana Quiring, Perwana Nazif, Vickie Vértiz, Cathy Linh Che, Sholeh Wolpé, and Ahmad Shamlou.
Featured Artists: ASCO, Mario Ayala, Graciela Iturbide, Suzanne Jackson, and Hedi El Kholti.
Before we could even start to answer this issue’s question — “What is LA?” — we had to ask ourselves a more personal one: What is LARB? Our 10th anniversary has naturally inspired a good deal of soul-searching. What have we built, and what needs a remodel? Who do we want to be? What is there left to say? What are we even doing out here?
These are the most fundamental of L.A. questions. People here are always seek-ing something, wanting to be someone, per-haps not knowing what or who. We here at LARB do know who we are, of course, and are proud of what we’ve done over the last decade, online and in the pages of LARB Quarterly. We’ve helped hundreds of new writers publish their first pieces, and built new bridges between the worlds of scholarship and popular culture that we promise to keep maintaining well into the future. But looking forward we want to do more. We want to take risks. With this new phase, we’re committing anew to our original mis-sion of offering a diverse and always challenging body of creative critical work from a range of authors, both old friends and new arrivals. And we at LARB Quarterly are also renewing our vows to Los Angeles, a city whose status as a literary capital has always been underappreciated. We’ll continue to showcase writers from all over the world, but we’ll always keep one foot on this side of the San Andreas fault, writing as if the Big One were coming tomorrow.
So finally — what is L.A.? “Buried under a mountain of clichés,” says Mike Davis in his laconic blurb for our bloated burg on this issue’s last page. Those clichés are indeed hard to shake, but that’s so for a reason: some part of each one sticks to the truth. Take the old saw about L.A. being the place you go to reinvent yourself. Every L.A. crime writer worth their salt, from Dorothy Hughes and Ross Macdonald to Walter Mosley and Steph Cha will tell you it’s a mug’s game, trying to break loose from the past. But that doesn’t keep people from trying and, on occasion, succeeding. The self-appointed prophets of the 1920s, immigrants from across the globe, disgruntled East Coasters seeking the sun and maybe getting burned, hundreds of pseudonymous stars, and even Angelyne in her pink Corvette — all icons of reinvention, all Angeleno as they come. And we’re no different. As the pieces in this issue show, journeys through L.A.’s labyrinth can dead-end or, just as suddenly, open up to unknown vistas. The closer we get to the heart of the city, the more mysterious paths unfold before us.
The only constant in Los Angeles is change, and after a decade, it’s time for a few changes around here. Welcome to the new Quarterly — and get ready for a reinvigorated LARB yet to come.
— Sarah Chihaya, Boris Dralyuk, and Chloe Watlington