The Los Angeles Review of Books is launching today, after many backroom deals, alcoholic drinks and diatribes on the robust yet underrepresented L.A. literary scene. I'm glad to finally see the project come to fruition, because I've been hearing rumors for years.
It's not the full site (which you can see a mock-up if you join their facebook fan page) but more of a soft launch, or as they say on the site, a "preview review."
Initially, this claim seems hyperbolic — "The Los Angeles Review of Books is the first major book review to launch in the 21st century" — but then you read the list of contributors. Whew. It's like a literary all-star team. It probably would have been a shorter list if they named reviewers who weren't writing for them.
What I like about the review is that it seems West Coast centric while simultaneously full of ambition for international relevance:
Since the 19thcentury writers have bridled at New York’s seeming monopoly over publication. Bret Harte in The Overland Monthly, Hamlin Garland in Crumbing Idols, John Crowe Ransom and Robert Penn Warren in I’ll Take My Stand, and writers and readers in a thousand other places—including even New York—have called for a more representative literary world. The internet has started to bring this to fruition, and Los Angeles, the largest book market in the country, is taking its rightful place as the new center. Looking outward, rather than inward, at the world rather than the parish, Los Angeles is a global city with a global reach, speaking over 100 languages and sending its music, literature and film to every corner of the globe.
Tom Lutz, who runs the U.C. Riverside MFA, is at the helm for this venture, so it's in very capable hands. Good luck, Tom. May the acronym LARB ascend to heights reserved previously for only the NYRB.