L.A. Weekly is determining the best L.A. novel ever by holding a tournament featuring 32 of our favorites in head-to-head matchups, until there's only one novel standing. For further reading:
*Best L.A. Novel Ever: The Tournament Brackets
*Best L.A. Novel Ever: More Matchups
This contest may seem like an unfair one for Hollywood Regional Final of our Best L.A. Novel Tournament. What Makes Sammy Run?, written by Budd Schulberg, who would later win an Oscar for writing On the Waterfront, is synonymous with Hollywood, while Evelyn Waugh's The Loved One spends only a couple chapters there. Still, both books poke fun at a brand of phoniness that's become synonymous with the place.
The titular Sammy is Sammy Glick, who lies and scams his way from the Lower East Side tenements up the ranks of New York journalism and then Hollywood, his story told through the eyes of the older, wiser, morally principled Al Manheim, who can't help but tag along as he attempts his own transition from one coast to another.
The Loved One, published just seven years after Sammy, in 1948, goes the opposite direction, starting in Hollywood and moving elsewhere. It follows Dennis, a poet who came to L.A. from England to write for Hollywood but now works works at a pet cemetery called the Happier Hunting Ground. When his roommate Sir Francis gets fired from his studio job and then commits suicide, the funeral arrangements bring Dennis to the fancy human cemetery Whispering Glades, where he falls for a mortician named Aimee.More »