The goddaughter of Igor Stravinsky and a graduate of Hollywood High, Babitz posed in 1963, at age twenty, playing chess with the French artist Marcel Duchamp. She was naked; he was not. The photograph, cheesecake with a Dadaist twist, 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. 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 sheerly enjoyable as to be mistaken for simple entertainment.
A freak fire in the 90s turned her into a recluse, living in a condo in West Hollywood, where Lili Anolik tracked her down in 2012. Anolik’s elegant and provocative new book is equal parts biography and detective story. It is also on dangerously intimate terms with its subject: artist, writer, muse, and one-woman zeitgeist, Eve Babitz.
Tue, November 19, 2019
6:30 PM – 8:00 PM
The Skylight Room: 9100
Lili Anolik is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. Her work has also appeared in Harper’s, Esquire, and The Believer. She lives in New York City with her husband and two small sons.
Los Angeles native and daughter of screenplay writer Melvin Frank, Elizabeth Frank is the Joseph E. Harry Professor of Modern Languages and Literature at Bard College. She won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography for Louise Bogan: a Portrait. The author the novel Cheat and Charmer, Frank is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies.
Presented by the Leon Levy Center for Biography.