From ordinary door-to-door men working for the City Directory and fired trolley drivers, to dental technicians and lots of musicians, Ry Cooder’s “Los Angeles Stories” takes the reader on a tour of Los Angeles during the ‘40s and ‘50s when jazz, rock and Spanish music set the background of the time.
The characters’ lives are cropped to show their journey through Los Angeles neighborhoods such as Santa Monica, Bunker Hill or Chavez Ravine. Who said “Nothing ever happens in Los Angeles?”
64-year-old author Cooder reveals eight small stories showing Los Angeles from a darker side. The stories are open windows to Los Angeles as each tale begins with a special event in the characters’ lives.
Cooder builds his stories around a murder in which the dental technician, the custom tailor and the drummer are considered innocent until proven otherwise.
The book makes complete sense when you know the background of the author, who is a well-known singer, composer and guitarist born in L.A. in the late 1940s.
More than that, he created songs for over 20 films. His talent to compose soundtracks for movies is undeniable, and clearly influenced his writing.
Music is present in all the stories, as if an old jukebox was playing in the background.
The book is written so that the stories resemble a series of short films that only make sense when they are read one after the other.
They reflect the unusual lives of musicians and men with no big deal. The melodies mixed with the words reveal the famous root musician a great modern author.
While reading the first pages of the book, the real life writing style stories appear to be little unrealistic as the characters are all caught in murders, mostly against their will. Random characters become embedded in the stories as the reader questions the reason for their presence.
However, the more the reader progress in the book, the more the stories that appeared to be strange become completely normal.
At this point, Cooder proves that he did right with his short tales. The post-World War II period is felt through the conversations full of slang and Spanish, the streetcars, the Buicks, the Cadillacs and the music as well.
Years are written under the titles, but they even appear to be unnecessary. The epoch is more than well described as Cooder draws his inspiration within his musician life.
Cooder’s collection is a great book to relax with. Still, the best way to enjoy the book is probably to open it, “Sit down, take a load off [and] try some pork fried rice.”
Without any doubt, Cooder’s stories will make anyone interested in music want to head to Los Angeles for the Thanksgiving weekend.
This entry was published in The Pioneer Online on Thursday, November 10th, 2011 at 3:03 pm.