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I Used to be Charming by Eve Babitz

I Used to be Charming by Eve Babitz

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With Eve’s Hollywood Eve Babitz lit up the scene in 1974. The books that followed, among them Slow Days, Fast Company and Sex and Rage, have seduced generations of readers with their unfailing wit and impossible glamour. What is less well known is that Babitz was a working journalist for the better part of three decades, writing for the likes of Rolling StoneVogue, and Esquire, as well as for off-the-beaten-path periodicals like Wet: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing and Francis Ford Coppola’s short-lived City. Whether profiling Hollywood darlings, getting to the bottom of health crazes like yoga and acupuncture, remembering friends and lovers from her days hobnobbing with rock stars at the Troubadour and art stars at the Ferus Gallery, or writing about her beloved, misunderstood hometown, Los Angeles, Babitz approaches every assignment with an energy and verve that is all her own.

I Used to Be Charming gathers nearly fifty pieces written between 1975 and 1997, including the full text of Babitz’s wry book-length investigation into the pioneering lifestyle brand Fiorucci. The title essay, published here for the first time, recounts the accident that came close to killing her in 1996; it reveals an uncharacteristically vulnerable yet never less than utterly charming Babitz.


"There’s something divine about Babitz’s vision of the world, mixed with some incandescent undercurrent of delusion—sordid, surreal, and alienated from reality. . . . Every essay lurches as unpredictably as Babitz’s prose, toggling rapidly between sneering and leering. But even when Babitz leers, it’s like the Pope waving through the glass of his Popemobile: her leering conveys a blessing."—Heather Havrilevsky, Air Mail

"Zesty essays by a sly observer . . . [Babitz] gathers nearly 40 personal essays, book reviews, travel pieces, and celebrity profiles, published between 1976 and 1997, that give ebullient testimony to her colorful, star-studded past . . . A spirited, entertaining collection."—Kirkus

"As clearly as a great snapshot, [Babitz’s] best passages capture fleeting sensations, particularly pleasurable ones. . . . The [title] essay wryly tracks these surges of pleasure and desire, even as pain threatens to overwhelm every other feeling. As in the best of Babitz’s earlier work, you can almost feel the agony of her physical therapy and almost taste the tuna sandwich that is the first food she truly craves after surgery."—Megan Marz, The Times Literary Supplement

Publisher: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 978-1681373799
Pages: 448