Los Angeles in the 1960s and 70s was the pop culture capital of the world—a movie factory, a music factory, a dream factory. Eve Babitz was the ultimate factory girl, a pure product of LA, and Vanity Fair writer “Lili Anolik decodes, ruptures, and ultimately intensifies Eve’s singular irresistible glitz” (The New Yorker).
The goddaughter of Igor Stravinsky and a graduate of Hollywood High, Eve Babitz posed in 1963, at age twenty, playing chess with the French artist Marcel Duchamp. She was naked; he was not. The photograph made her an instant icon of art and sex. Babitz spent the rest of the decade rocking and rolling on the Sunset Strip, honing her notoriety. There were the album covers she designed: for Buffalo Springfield and the Byrds, to name but a few. There were the men she seduced: Jim Morrison, Ed Ruscha, Harrison Ford, to name but a very few.
Then, at nearly thirty, her It girl days numbered, Babitz was discovered—as a writer—by Joan Didion. She would go on to produce seven books, usually billed as novels or short story collections, always autobiographies and confessionals. Under-known and under-read during her career, she’s since experienced a breakthrough. Now in her mid-seventies, she’s on the cusp of literary stardom and recognition as an essential—as the essential—LA writer. Her prose achieves that American ideal: art that stays loose, maintains its cool, and is so simply enjoyable as to be mistaken for simple entertainment.
For Babitz, life was slow days, fast company until a freak fire turned her into a recluse, living in a condo in West Hollywood, where author Lili Anolik tracked her down in 2012. Hollywood’s Eve, equal parts biography and detective story “brings a ludicrously glamorous scene back to life, adding a few shadows along the way” (Vogue) and “sends you racing to read the work of Eve Babitz” (The New York Times).
Hollywood’s Eve A Note, Slipped to the Reader Hollywood’s Eve isn’t a biography—at least not in the traditional sense. It won’t attempt to impose narrative structure and logic on life, which is (mostly) incoherent and irrational, lived moment-by-moment and instinctively rather than by grand design and purposefully; or to provide explanations, which (mostly) dull and diminish; or to reach conclusions, which are (mostly) hollow and false. In other words, it doesn’t believe, or expect you to, that facts, dates, timelines, firsthand accounts, verifiable sources tell the tale.
Here’s what Hollywood’s Eve is: a biography in the nontraditional sense; a case history as well as a cultural; a critical appreciation; a sociological study; a psychological commentary; a noir-style mystery; a memoir in disguise; and a philosophical investigation as contrary, speculative, and unresolved as its subject. Here’s what Hollywood’s Eve is above all else: a love story. The lover, me. The love object, Eve Babitz, the louche, wayward, headlong, hidden genius of Los Angeles.
A book can be infatuated—hopelessly, helplessly, heedlessly—same as a person. I’m telling you this not as a way of asking for allowances, but for understanding. In the following pages, things might get a little heated, a little weird, a little out of hand. Now you know why.
Lili Anolik is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. Her work has also appeared in Harper’s, Esquire, and The Believer. She is the author of Hollywood's Eve and lives in New York City with her husband and two small sons.
“A swooning, sometimes madcap look at Babitz...compelling.” —The Washington Post
“Fills in many of the gaps in our knowledge of Babitz’s life and work...What Hollywood’s Eve has going for it on every page is its subject’s utter refusal to be dull… It sends you racing to read the work of Eve Babitz.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“Anolik’s book brings a ludicrously glamorous scene back to life, adding a few shadows along the way to give Babitz’s sun-bleached biography more nuanced contours.” —Vogue
“Anolik’s fantasy Eve reflects Babitz’s brilliance at self-presentation.”—Harper’s
“Anolik now presents the full jaw-dropping drama of Babitz’s on-the-edge life and complicated personality, paired with an account of Anolik's pursuit of her wily subject. With the recent reissue of Babitz's books, this radical American writer of stunning verve, candor, and insight is truly a phoenix rising.” —Booklist
“The Eve Babitz story you've been looking for—a true page-turner about an icon of Los Angeles' 1960s art scene that'll satisfy your thirst for glitz, glam, and drama.”—Women’s Day
“[A] loving and perceptive new book on Babitz… [Babitz’s]unique and entertaining body of work is now crowned by Lili Anolik’s Hollywood’s Eve.”—Los Angeles Review of Books
“Vital and clarifying….wonderful.” —NPR.org
“Perfect for fans of Hollywood in its glory years, this is a biography energetically told.” —Publishers Weekly
“[A] smart, fast-paced meditation on Babitz … Anolik sees her as ruthless, unencumbered, unapologetic. In other words, an artist.” —BookPage
“Hollywood’s Eve does not fit the mold of a biography—it’s a bona fide love story. Anolik achieves an incredible intimacy with her subject, who talks to almost no one these days.” —Kirkus Reviews
“From Joan Didion to Harrison Ford to Steve Martin, the book is chockablock with stories both salacious and soulful, exactly the kind of poetically enticing account (with just the right amount of tawdry) Babitz herself delivered so sharply.”—The AV Club
“There’s no doubt that Anolik is daffy for Babitz but she is also clear-eyed in her critical assessment and paints a portrait that is beyond smitten, always smart, and an awful lot of fun.” —Esquire
“An intimate biography of a glamorous writer and a portrait of the city she called her playground.” —Town & Country
“A dishy, splashy biography filled with more celebrity cameos than a table at the Polo Lounge.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Fascinating…it’s impossible not to be infatuated.” —Oprah Magazine
“Anolik has expanded her magazine piece into a book of her own, calling it ‘a biography in the non-traditional sense.’ But Hollywood’s Eve is richer and stranger than that.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Lili Anolik delves into the mysterious life of Eve Babitz in this revealing, anecdote-packed biography.” —InStyle
“Lili Anolik has hunted and captured her favorite forgotten author and helped to save Babitz’s long out-of-print books from the dustbin of cultural history. Now, like Babitz before her, she has created her own genre: fan nonfiction. In fevered, up-all-night-chain-smoking-at-the-Chateau prose perfectly suited to her subject, she excavates the lost world that Babitz so deftly wove into her autofiction.” —Karina Longworth, creator and host of You Must Remember This
“Read Lili Anolik’s book in the same spirit you’d read a new Eve Babitz, if there was one: for the gossip and for the writing. Both are extraordinary.” —Jonathan Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn
“The first injectable biography.” —James Wolcott, Vanity Fair columnist and author of Lucking Out
“There's no better way to look at Hollywood in that magic decade, the 1970s, than through Eve Babitz's eyes. Eve knew everyone, slept with everyone, used, amused, and abused everyone. And then there's Eve herself: a cult figure turned into a legend in Anolik's electrifying book. This is a portrait as mysterious, maddening-and seductive-as its subject.” —Peter Biskind, author of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls
“Lili Anolik's love letter to Eve Babitz is as probing and intelligent as it is outrageously fun, swirling with secrets and gossip, celebrity and art, feminism and literature and tragedy and sex and sex and sex. A glorious trip through the looking glass of a golden-age L.A., Hollywood’s Eve makes the case for Babitz as chronicler and muse of an era even as it paints an unsparing picture of its lost illusions.” —Joe Hagan, author of Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine
“Let other writers worship at the banal altar of L.A. Thanatos; Anolik’s Eve is the fearless beating heart of L.A. Eros, and her inimitable voice comes alive in Anolik’s own lovingly warm and penetrating celebration of Babitz’s magnificent beauty, wildness and art.“ —Elizabeth Frank, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Cheat and Charmer