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Lawrence Weschler Weighs in on LA

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Anyone can tell you what's wrong with Los Angeles and its surrounding areas, but few can clearly articulate what's right, magical and true about this place as well as Lawrence Weschler does in his 1998 New Yorker essay, "LA Glows," which is included in Weschler's latest collection of New Yorker articles, Vermeer in Bosnia.

That essay inspired many Angelenos, including local writer Jim Ruland, who interviews Weschler in the "The Golden West" issue of the online literary magazine, "The God Particle."

Weschler, who was raised in Van Nuys, has fascinating things to say about Culver City's intelligencia, The LA Reader and Matt Groening.

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Here's a taste:

TGP: ...I would like to know what, in your opinion, makes LA so special?

LW: Obviously the light is one of the things, which I write about a lot. One of the things that makes LA so special is it’s where I come from. I think anywhere you come from is really special. I don’t want to fetishize it, but having said that, one of the things I think that LA is not, is stupid. I think LA is intellectually really lively. It has this interesting confluence of influences. Obviously you have influences from Mexico and Asia and things like that, but then you have weird things on top of that: German-Jewish — who would have thought? Texas black — the Water Mosley thing. It’s a cliché to say that LA is a global city, but it’s true...

[Los Angeles Times Book Review Editor] Steve Wasserman claims that LA is the single best book buying market in the country, and my response to that is, Why is that surprising? It jives completely with my experience of going to people’s houses all over LA. They’ve got nice libraries. People are reading. It doesn’t surprise me. The whole premise of this conversation, parenthetically assumes that it’s between LA and New York. I suspect there is great stuff going on in Tulsa, too. Or Chicago. Chicago is a really great city.

Keep reading for more excerpts from the interview. Photo by Nitsa.