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The Best Best of LA Ever: LA Weekly's Stories of Survival

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The LA Weekly's annual Best of LA issue came out Thursday. This year's version, Best of LA 2005: Look Homeward, Angeleno, is edited by theater critic Steven Mikulan and features a compilation of creative nonfiction shorts on Los Angeles. Last year's Seven Deadly Sins version provided a mind-numbing number of recommendations - bars, clubs, restaurants. It was a useful guidebook but overwhelming. Here, Mikulan gives the writers room to expand. Rather than a list of twenty things they like, each one tells the story of one time, one moment, one place, from the Sunset Junction fair to backyard parties in East L.A.

This issue has heart. Staffers write their personal narratives about what they already love in Los Angeles. It's divided into four sections: Memory, Terrain, Mirrors and Destinations. Our favorite article is Kerry Madden's story Memory: Pregnant Pauses, Toys In The Crawlspace about her first year in LA. It begins with "We moved to L.A. in 1988 in a '74 Corolla, pregnant, jobless, no insurance. My husband, Kiffen, had intentions of acting. I would write. "

Of course there are still lots of restaurant recommendations, movie listings, and escort ads, but this issue is reaching for something even more valuable - an homage to the city, and an exploration of why we stay. Copies of this giant issue are available everywhere, including at most library branches, and - as usual - free. It's some of the most loving writing on LA you'll find.