Skip to content

Category Archives: books

Los Angeles Review of Books: W. David Marx’s “Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style”

Forty years ago, four Japanese writers and photographers came to town and invented Los Angeles. Or rather, they invented an image of Los Angeles they could distill, package, and sell — first to Japan, then to the rest of the world — with the debut issue of Popeye, published July 1976. Described in its own […]

Guardian Cities: 45 Years of Reyner Banham’s “Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies”

“Now I know subjective opinions can vary,” the journalist Adam Raphael wrote in the Guardian in 1968, “but personally I reckon LA as the noisiest, the smelliest, the most uncomfortable and most uncivilised major city in the United States. In short, a stinking sewer…” Three years later, Raphael’s words appeared in print again as an […]

Los Angeles Review of Books: Donald Richie’s “The Inland Sea”

“IT IS PERHAPS TRUE that the best way to get to know a people is to sleep with them,” writes Donald Richie about halfway into The Inland Sea, “but this is complicated in Japan.” That hardly stops him from trying, however. In this account of a journey through the towns and villages of the titular […]

I talk Philip K. Dick on USC’s Bedrosian Book Club Podcast

USC’s Bedrosian Center on Governance and the Public Enterprise (a part of their Sol Price School of Public Policy) does a monthly podcast called the Bedrosian Book Club, which has so far discussed books like Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century, Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, and Joan Didion’s The White Album. This month — thanks, I believe, to my City […]

My Favorite City Book of 2014 in the Guardian

The Guardian rounds up its city writers’ favorite city books of 2014, including my selection: The Interior Circuit Francisco Goldman It takes bravery, or at least fatalism, to drive in Mexico City. Having developed a bit of both in the years after his young wife’s sudden death, Guatemalan-American writer Francisco Goldman took on the challenge of […]

Men’s style books: Adolf Loos, Why a Man Should Be Well-Dressed

Here we have a book that, to Put This On readers, may at first seem both perfectly relevant and perfectly irrelevant. Much of the relevance comes expressed, of course, in the title itself: notions of Why a Man Should Be Well-Dressed would make for a fine companion to instructions about how a man can dress well, or, […]

The Consummate Writer of Place: Christopher Rand in Los Angeles, China, and Beyond, 1943-1968

“LOS ANGELES may be the ultimate city of our age.” So begins the 20th century’s most unjustly forgotten book on Los Angeles, written by one of its most unjustly forgotten writers of place. Christopher Rand’s Los Angeles: The Ultimate City appeared in 1967, published by Oxford University Press and built upon a trilogy of articles TheNew Yorker ran in […]

Men’s style books: Nathaniel Adams and Rose Callahan, I Am Dandy

I Am Dandy: The Return of the Elegant Gentleman consists of 56 profiles of well-dressed men. Each one names the place of birth, current location, and occupation of the profiled. The first varies, the second tends toward the predictable urban suite of New York, London, and Paris, and the third includes such implausible careers as “creative […]

Five favorite reads of 2013 on Conversational Reading

Conversational Reading collected five of my favorite reads this year, new or old, a list which wound up hitting Los Angeles, Japan, Mexico City, China, and spanning the mid-1940s to this year: Mario Bellatin (trans. David Shook), Shiki Nagaoka: A Nose for Fiction. Despite the excitement he reliably gins up among his readers, Mario Bellatin, the […]

Men’s style books: Kevin Burrows and Lawrence Schlossman, Fuck Yeah Menswear

Whether published this century or the last, most men’s style books I pick up don’t present themselves as products of the internet age. This even holds for volumes that owe their very existence to the popularity of their authors’ blog, web series, Tumblr, what have you. So the process seems to have gone with Kevin […]