Former UC Irvine writing instructor Bridget Hoida aims to capture the crazy intensity of L.A. culture in this debut novel, looking for humor and pathos among the startling lifestyle innovations and entertainment business clichés that La La Land is known for.
The book opens when protagonist Magdalena de la Cruz falls off a 51-foot yacht into the blue Pacific while filming a promo for Luxe, a mineral-water/herbal energy-supplement priced at a dollar an ounce.
Her husband is too deep in conversation with Miss Big Hollywood Somebody to notice the fallen model/businesswoman (she owns the water company in partnership with her husband). She has to chant Hare Krishna to stay calm while waiting to be rescued.
The story flashes back to Magdalena’s history with her deceased brother, Junah. She blames herself for his death while rock climbing, and that guilt twines together with the pain of her deteriorating marriage to give the novel an emotional core sufficiently dark to contrast effectively with the brilliant SoCal setting.
This is literary fiction written with verve in short, diary-like episodes. The writer sometimes seems to be trying a little too hard to hit the high notes of Southland absurdity, but she pulls off some good scenes and gets some big laughs.
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QUICK FACT: Founded in 1781, the city of Los Angeles was incorporated as an official municipality on April 4, 1850, five months before California achieved statehood.