Nina Revoyr's Los Angeles

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[p. 3 of 5]

[Revoyr continues]... during the time that all of this crazy stuff was happening... Prop 187, big political and social things happening. My missing LA at that point was not just about the town, but wanting to be in the middle of all these fights.

Not only that, but I was kind of losing my edge, I thought, being so far removed from everything. Life in an idyllic little northeast town could not be more different from Los Angeles with the hustle and bustle and craziness. On the one hand, it's good to have peace and quiet, and you just start to really calm down—but it gets boring after a while, and you need to be in the middle of things. I think ideally, I would love to have the kind of life where you just spend part of your time away and then part of your time here in LA. I still go out of town a lot to work, even if it's just to the mountains.

LRS: I wanted to ask you a little more about something we were talking about earlier—realizing that you love LA after you leave it, if that was what your experience was like.

Revoyr: I did love it while I was here. But leaving it gave me a greater appreciation, because there are things that you take for granted, things that are less obvious than weather, you know, that—I didn't really feel how different the mixture of people was here until I went to a place that was not so diverse. And then suddenly I really missed Los Angeles, and not just the diversity but the kind of unexpected meetings of people, the unexpected crossings, the access that you have to all different kinds of things. I missed that more when I was gone because you know, you take it for granted. I also missed the landscape a lot. I never noticed that Los Angeles had mountains until I left—actually, until I moved to Japan and lived in a mountain community. I fell in love with those mountains and then I came back and discovered that we have mountains here. It just gave me a different perspective. I've been back for eight years, and I still don't take it for granted.

LRS: What was it like going to college in New Haven [to Yale] from Culver City? What was the feel of those first few months?

Revoyr: Huge culture shock. Not so much geographically, because I've lived in other places, you know, I lived in Wisconsin, I lived in Japan, but being around the people—it wasn't so much the wealth, because growing up in LA you definitely see wealth, you see people with fancy cars. But suddenly going to college where people my age had grown up going to prep schools or you know, who were from the Rockefeller family—it was just unreal. That was the biggest adjustment—having spent part of my life in Japan and being raised by a single parent and going to a large urban public school growing up in LA, I felt—I don't want to say out of place, because there were other people like me, but I was definitely in a new place.

On the flip side, one of the things that was so positive about being there was suddenly realizing that I could play with those folks, that I could be in classes with folks who'd all gone to Deerfield and Exeter and Andover and do just as well as them in school. Any kind of class intimidation that might have been there at the beginning quickly faded once you realized, okay, these people have fancy backgrounds but that doesn't mean that they have more smartsÉand in fact in many cases a lot of those kids were incredibly sheltered and had very little life knowledge.

LRS: When did you know that you wanted to write about LA?

Revoyr: I don't know that it was a conscious choice. I wrote a lot of other things in college but when I started writing the story that became my first book [The Necessary Hunger] it was not a conscious decision to write about LA. I was trying to capture a particular time in life and a particular area, and it was very important to me in both of the first two books to depict parts of the city that other people—that many outsiders overlook or dismiss as 'ghetto'É or think of as negative and dangerous and bad. I wanted to depict those communities as vibrant interesting places that actually have a lot of good qualities. I wanted to show that even though this neighborhood of Inglewood seemed undesirable from the outside, that people loved it and didn't want to leave it, and to just show this city in a different light.

I don't think it was really until I started working on the second book that I realized okay, this appears to be a repeating pattern for me—trying to write about the city. Since then, again I've written about the city in the new book, and I'm sure I will continue to. I think it's a city of endless possibilities. There are so many different things going on here, that any writer—whatever you're interested in, whether it's politics, race, immigration, labor, the environment, pop culture, or the inner city—all of it is not only happening here, but also seems to be kind of coming to a head here all the time. There are an infinite number of stories that could be told.

LRS: From the way that you talk about Culver City, it sounds like that a lot of the things you've written about were at least inspired by your experiences growing up there, but you picked Inglewood and Crenshaw to write about. Were there particular reasons why you did that, instead of just writing about Culver City?

Revoyr: I think for me, to do something that is strictly autobiographical is limiting. That little bit of distance created a sense of intrigue or mystery







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purchase selected works by Nina Revoyr:



The Necessary Hunger

The Age of Dreaming

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