Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Endearing Harold Robbins

Sin City isn't by Harold Robbins, since he died in 1997, but by a writer who was chosen to hew closely to Robbins' writing style. The writer for this one was apparently Junius Podrug, according to Fantastic Fiction.

Nevertheless, Sin City makes me want to read the novels written by Robbins himself not only because Las Vegas is evoked so well here that I feel like I'm home already, but because of a line in Chapter 3. It encapsulates what I've come to realize about Los Angeles, after years of trying to extract some meaning from it, starting from 2003 when I was a new student at College of the Canyons and read every book that I could find about Los Angeles, including literary anthologies. But here it is, the meaning that shows that there isn't any meaning; there never was meant to be a meaning:

"She didn't like L.A. It didn't seem like a real town, just endless streets and rows of houses."

It sure felt like that yesterday when we drove back to Santa Clarita from the area where The Landmark was. Dad knew that Mom didn't want to go back by way of the 405, so he took local streets, which weaved us past houses high up on mountains, houses nestled in those mountains close to the street, houses on stilts, houses that cost more than I'll probably make in my entire life. It took so long to get past those houses, though there was a nice large yellow one I liked with a fountain in the front driveway. Endless streets and rows of houses is correct. In fact, a year and a half ago, I bought from The Library of America Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology for the sale price of $9.95, a perpetual sale price since it's still listed in the section of that website. I saw it at College of the Canyons, skimmed through it, but at that point, I wanted to read it to see if there was anything revealing about Los Angeles that could make me understand it. That one line in Sin City has made me seriously think about putting Writing Los Angeles in the Goodwill box. It's never been my city, it never will be my city, and I've found that meaning. Some like Los Angeles and perhaps to them it feels like a real town, but not to me. It never has.

The first paragraph of Chapter 10 in Sin City also has a perfect description in one of its sentences:

"To me, Vegas was like Hollywood, bigger than life, but even better because Betty told me that there really wasn't any place called Hollywood, that it was just a cheap and dirty street in Los Angeles and "Hollywood" was really movie studios and thousands of people scattered all over the L.A. basin."

Exactly. And now I can go home to Henderson and Las Vegas with this chapter of my life shut tight. I've nothing else to seek about Los Angeles. It's all right here.