Read Your Way Around the World is a series exploring the globe through books. On Sunset Boulevard in Bel Air, street vendors offer “Maps to the Stars’ Homes.” The vendors don’t sell “Maps to the Authors’ Homes,” which is a shame, because F.
Scott Fitzgerald, Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote all lived nearby. A map to the homes of Angeleno authors might also guide you to the bungalow where Bertolt Brecht penned one of his greatest plays, “The Caucasian Chalk Circle.” And to the mansion where a teenager named Susan Sontag visited one of her literary heroes, the German exile and Nobel laureate Thomas Mann.
Outsiders often think of Los Angeles as an anti-intellectual place, all Hollywood glitz and no substance, but writers have always been drawn to my hometown.
In David L. Ulin’s “Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology,” I read about Simone de Beauvoir’s 1947 journey to L.A.’s Eastside, where she learned about the city’s anti-Mexican prejudice and admired Dia de los Muertos skulls.