“Who’s Eve Babitz?”

By Paul ThompsonMay 14, 2024

“Who’s Eve Babitz?”
Paul Thompson scratches the surface of Eve Babitz’s Los Angeles on the occasion of her birthday:

Eve Babitz’s death from Huntington’s disease, in the sleepy week right before Christmas 2021, punctuated a thoroughly deserved period of renewed interest in her work. Though she’d remained largely hidden from view since the 1997 accident that left third-degree burns on more than half of her body, the 2010s sort of belonged to her—at least in the sense that her books, reissued and reappraised, seemed to understand L.A. better than any contemporary writer’s, even when they underlined a superficial change. On what would have been the late writer’s 81st birthday, we’re unearthing two essays. The first, by Katie Kadue (which originally appeared in the What Is L.A.? issue of the LARB Quarterly), begins on the night of Babitz’s death. “Someone else said, ‘Who’s Eve Babitz?’” Kadue writes. “She was in town from the East Coast.” The other, by Dan Wakefield, recounts the year he spent living at the Chateau Marmont, during which he became involved with the woman who lived just down Sunset, on Formosa. When he was interviewed about his relationship with Eve, Wakefield told Vanity Fair that 1971 was his favorite year. “[B]ut I couldn’t have lived through another one.”

LARB Contributor

Paul Thompson is a senior editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books. He has written for Rolling Stone, GQ, New York, Pitchfork, and The Washington Post, among other publications.


Did you know LARB is a reader-supported nonprofit?

LARB publishes daily without a paywall as part of our mission to make rigorous, incisive, and engaging writing on every aspect of literature, culture, and the arts freely accessible to the public. Help us continue this work with your tax-deductible donation today!