Black Swans: Stories

Eve Babitz (Author) Stephanie Danler (Introduction by)

Product Details

$16.95  $15.59
Counterpoint LLC
Publish Date
April 10, 2018
5.5 X 0.8 X 8.2 inches | 0.55 pounds
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About the Author

Eve Babitz is the author of several books of fiction, including Sex and Rage, Eve's Hollywood, and Slow Days, Fast Company. Her nonfiction works include Fiorucci: The Book and Two by Two. She has written for publications including Ms. and Esquire, and in the late 1960s, she designed album covers for the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and Linda Ronstadt.


Praise for Black Swans

A Most Anticipated Book of the Year (The Millions)
A Best Book of the Year (MyDomaine)
1 of 15 Books That Are New (Or Newly Relevant) for the Summertime (The Lily)
1 of 14 New Paperbacks You Should Toss in Your Beach Bag (BuzzFeed)

"This summer I plan to catch up with two writers. The first is Eve Babitz, whose memoirs Eve's Hollywood and Slow Days, Fast Company I could hardly admire more. Counterpoint Press has issued two others, Sex and Rage, a novel, and Black Swans, a book of stories. They are already in my weekend bag, tucked beneath my man-Spanx." --Dwight Garner, The New York Times

"Eve Babitz's Black Swans . . . is both the comedy and the tragedy of the Los Angeles girl on her home coast, and it elevates one of my less-favored genres, the personal essay . . . The blinding twilight of a bygone era in Los Angeles is Babitz's lived experience, distilled here into stories with sweet bite, like sour fruit only just past the point of ripe." --The Paris Review, Staff Pick

"Eve Babitz is a little like Madame de Sevigne, that inveterate letter-writer of Louis XIV's time, transposed to the Chateau Marmont in the late 20th-Century--lunching, chatting, dressing, loving and crying in Hollywood, that latter-day Versailles." --Los Angeles Times

"Rebecca McCarthy [of Community Bookstore] always comes back to Eve Babitz . . . A new edition of Babitz's 1993 story collection, Black Swans, is out, full of glitzy, tipsy portraits of Los Angeles." --The Village Voice

"The closest thing I can compare it to is dessert." --Lori Keong, The Strategist

"Originally published in 1993, this collection of stories by Eve Babitz still feels incredibly relevant . . . With a sharp narrator who now has her wits about her and is able to look back at the tempestuous time with clear eyes and a biting tongue, the stories will both delight and horrify, and maybe show us that Hollywood has always had a seedy side--as we now know all too clearly." --The Lily, 15 Books That Are New (Or Newly Relevant) for the Summertime

"Babitz's story collection Black Swans is arguably her best work for its matured narrative voice. Babitz delivers the anticipated accounts of faltering love affairs and a who's who rundown of Hollywood's social register, but her trademark style steeped in voyeurism is tempered by middle age. Older and somewhat wiser than when she first met readers between the pages of Eve's Hollywood in 1974, Babitz here probes the causes and consequences of why the '60s and '70s were so thoroughly debauched . . . Rather than dissolve her charms, Babitz pumps the brakes on the drugs and alcohol and thus reveals a newfound depth. One of the strengths of this collection lies in her willingness to catalog her own flaws . . . Reading Eve Babitz is like eating cake for breakfast, like having a gossip over brunch with your best friend." --Los Angeles Review of Books

"There's a glamour to Eve Babitz's writing that I appreciate, and a kind of confidence that makes anything she writes sound like a universal truth." --Chelsea Hodson, The Seattle Review of Books

"The rediscovery of the fiction and essays of 1970's Hollywood It Girl Eve Babitz has been a literary joy, and as her backlist has been slowly re-released it's fun to savor each and every morsel." --BuzzFeed, 1 of 14 New Paperbacks You Should Toss in Your Beach Bag

"Now, at a time when being a woman is undeniably more political than ever, what is it about Babitz and her free-spirited life and writing that appeals to these new readers? For one, it seems this next generation is emboldened by her proclivity toward sex and owning her sensuality, the idea that women can enjoy sex without attachment. Babitz breaks the third wall and speaks to them . . . There is also a wandering in Babitz's world (she once told her mother that she wanted to grow up to become an adventuress) that embodies the spirit of today's popular wanderlust mantras inked on inside forearms." --LA Weekly

"Eve gives you the glitz and glam on top of the dirty and the realness of L.A., which is rare. If you haven't read Eve Babitz yet, I don't know what to tell you except what are you waiting for. Just do it." --MyDomaine, One of the Best Books of the Year

"This reissue of one of Eve Babitz's best collections is a doozy. If Grace Paley was the voice of the '60s and '70s, Babitz manages to be that voice for the '80s . . . With a keen eye and a rambunctious voice, Babitz tells the story of a generation's version of sex, drugs, rock and roll, and the recovery from it all. A fantastic and stirring collection, apt for our time's obsessions." --Read It Forward, A Favorite Read for April 2018

"Black Swans, originally out in 1993 and reissued this year, is the best example of what makes her writing so essential. The discursive nature of her short stories allows her narratives to move in tandem with the sociopolitical issues she is constantly and effectively addressing. It's a model for writing fiction that addresses politics that feels neither didactic nor preachy but natural. This is the product of the autobiographical style of her writing which often has a texture more similar to personal nonfiction than fiction, which makes conversations about contemporary events feel naturally woven into her world . . . When Babitz's stories engage with politics, they're focused on demonstrating how her characters would engage, and the good and bad that comes with it. It restricts their polemical efficacy and narrows their scope but takes away the awkward tinge that other fiction so dedicated to making a point can have. On top of all this, of course, Babitz is one of the most wonderful American prose stylists. Every page is littered with perfectly critical, funny, and illuminating sentences it seems only she could write . . . Nobody saw -- or sees -- the world as Babitz does, its glitz alongside what had to be scraped off to make it shine. Throughout Black Swans, she writes with ease about how the social and political impact both the people who are around here and the people who aren't. It'd be a boon for fiction writing if more writers could manifest this, too." --Bradley Babendir, Medium

"For some fizzy fun with a splash of self-reflection and social commentary, try Eve Babitz's short story collection Black Swans. This love letter to Los Angeles explores the friendships, loves, passions, and flings of an artist and writer with a singular voice: casual, colloquial, and propulsive, with enough insight and humor to elevate even the most frivolous excursions. What at first seems like an unfiltered array of impressions--about aging, or tango, ambition, or jealousy--comes together as a considered meditation on a theme. These stories will make you rethink your own interconnected memories and the beautiful people that inhabit them--though they may not be as beautiful as Babitz's." --Brooklyn Paper

"[Babitz's] recent renaissance, like her writing, has been both propulsive and rapturous . . . This April, Counterpoint Press released Black Swans (1993), a wistful collection of nine autobiographical tales from the 1980s and '90s. By then, Babitz's tidal pull--sumptuous prose organized into vignettes of hedonism without the weight of moral consequence--had lassoed the attention of bookish women, and, seemingly, everyone else too . . . What's captivating about Babitz's particular mode of confession is that it's anchored by an intuition that renders her environs both so enchanted and familiar. And her irreverence in the face of persistent expectations of feminine decorum--reanimated like a sociocultural zombie during this administration--can cause a sigh of relief . . . Babitz is sensitive to [Los Angeles's] fundamental contradictions. Namely, its preoccupation with contrived beauty and glitz and its vulnerability to nature's impositions: the hot gale winds of the Santa Anas, the earthquakes, and the fires. Her wholesale embrace of what is lovely and dangerous and absurd about Los Angeles appeals to contemporary readers. After all, the world Babitz depicts in her books of women roaming its streets and weighing their impulses very much remains the same, even if the landscape of the city itself has changed . . . The limitations of [Babitz's] work, and of her perceptions, do not negate her literary importance. The world she renders for us is always worth dwelling in, even skeptically." --BuzzFeed

Black Swans: Stories . . . is a collection of brilliant short stories. Babitz explored the modern society of Los Angeles and its beauty and rottenness. Through her honesty, sensitivity and her singular sense of humour, the author wrote about the human condition . . . The beginning of her texts are poetic, beautiful and simple. But all of her writing is, after all. In Black Swans: Stories, her words exude wisdom and clarity. Even if sometimes she is insecure, Babitz knows herself." --Books Turn You On

"What stands out about Babitz's writing is her voice: smart, unapologetic and knowing, like Dorothy Parker magically time traveling to the modern era . . . Rereading Babitz is a delicious, guilty pleasure." --Alta

"The subject of these nine stories by Babitz (Sex and Rage) is Hollywood: brilliant and beautiful couples who somehow get along; charming yet moody men and their odd needs; and "Eve," the narrator, who cautiously reveals in herself the vices of a naughty but not really bad girl." --Publishers Weekly

"Babitz is an acquired taste: her slewing style, bad-girl postures, and sad-funny takes on hedonism can be deliciously shocking... Here, though, as the narrator of these nine story/essays approaches middle-age--after all the drugs, booze, groupie sex, and wild passionate flings--the sense of brakes applied turns Babitz's voice sage as well as dispensed as Babitz's people try to be, they never are far from their fears and insecurities--and her wisecracking, ain't-it-the-truth-honey voice is just about perfect in illuminating the fact...Babitz's best book yet." --Kirkus Reviews

Praise for Sex and Rage

Bellatrist Book Club Pick for July 2017
Chosen as a staff pick by The Paris Review
1 of 10 Books to Pick Up Now (O, The Oprah Magazine)
1 of 9 Books By Women Authors to Read This Summer (W Magazine)
1 of 12 Great New Books to Bring to the Beach This Summer (The Huffington Post)

"As a young girl growing up in Los Angeles, I spent a lot of time and energy trying to figure out who I was. I think this is true for young women growing up in most places--and it is for this reason that we chose Sex and Rage by the legendary Eve Babitz as our July @belletrist book pick. Babitz's heroine, Jacaranda, speaks volumes to the messiness and mistakes that mark adolescence. I can't wait for you guys to read her story." --Emma Roberts, actress and cofounder of Belletrist Book Club

"On the page, Babitz is pure pleasure--a perpetual-motion machine of no-stakes elation and champagne fizz . . . A mesmerizing account of a young woman trying to decide what to do about her own premonitions." --The New Yorker

"[T]his novel is studded with sharp observations... Babitz's talent for the brilliant line, honed to a point, never interferes with her feel for languid pleasures."--New York Times Book Review

"In language that coils and surprises... this reissued fiction classic shimmers like a Santa Monica sunset."--O Magazine, 1 of 10 Titles to Pick Up Now

"The entirety of Sex and Rage . . . is a kind of pushback against the notion of Southern California's banality and vanity: it gives great merit to simple beauty and solitude, and does its part to redeem the SoCal lifestyle." --The Paris Review (staff pick)

"The liveliness of her portraits and plates-in-the-air precariousness of her storytelling reach through the decades to entertain a completely new audience. Now, Counterpoint Press has resurrected the deliciously titled 1979 bildungsroman Sex and Rage. (Who would have thought that pairing would still be so sharply resonant?) Babitz may be something of a recluse now . . . but the fact that her work has only recently resurfaced is still something of a literary crime . . . The ultimate effect of this Angeleno's writing is to cast her beloved, glamorous town in the main role. And what a performance it is." --Elle Magazine (Online)

"Sex and Rage reveals a more self-conscious Eve Babitz . . . Sometimes an author transcends the line between writer and work, emblematizing an era, such as how one can walk into the Library Bar downtown and order a Hemingway Daiquiri, why there is an Amazon series about Zelda and F. Scott, or the phenomenon of lugging one's books in a tote emblazoned with an image of Joan Didion holding a cigarette and looking delightfully contemptuous. Babitz too has become larger than her oeuvre, a sort of colophon of her own work. Babitz's iconic status is why Jacaranda is such a fascinating character. She signals Babitz's fear of time passing, of being an almost former it-girl. Similar to its author, Babitz's writing is also like the jacaranda tree in glorious bloom--bewitching an entire city, but all too brief." --Los Angeles Review of Books

"Sex and Rage is less controlled, and in my view, a more interesting work from Babitz. Jacaranda shares some of her biographical markers but not all of them, giving her room to experiment. And though the book is plotless, told in vignettes, and this will bedevil some readers, there is something about its portrait of an It Girl on the verge of a nervous breakdown that softens and opens the type." --Los Angeles Times

"Sex and Rage is a the portrait of the artist as an ever-evolving young woman." --W Magazine, 1 of 9 Books to Read This Summer

"If you're not desperate to read this book based on the title, I don't know what to tell you." --Elle Magazine, 1 of 19 Books to Read This Summer

"Counterpoint has just republished Sex and Rage, which seems a wise move as the story still feels modern . . . Sex and Rage is most interesting for its early and astute portrayal of a horribly familiar, hopefully transformative late-twenties crisis." --VICE, 1 of Six Smarter--But Not Quite Guilt-Free--Beach Reads

"It is the story, really, of one's 20s . . . wherein the clashes of reality and desire can lead to spectacular and terrifying confrontations with the chasm that divides them." --The Millions

"If you love Eve, this book feels gently revolutionary in showing the artist at her most vulnerable." --The Hairpin

"Sex and Rage is a great read for anyone currently in their 20s or anyone who can identify with the feeling of being unsure of what's next. (So, all of us?)" --HelloGiggles

"Because Babitz is contemporaneous with Didion, the two women are often compared to one another . . . Babitz's closest peer--or perhaps her heiress--is Francesca Lia Block . . . Their writing is much like L.A. at its best: alluringly sexy but also heartbreakingly unpredictable, beautiful but indifferent to what you want from it." --The New Republic

"Babitz was living proof that rock-and-roll decadence also could be elegant and that muses could be the sharpest tacks in the room. Her writing was so lush and so arch--so sexy and so smart--that she made you believe lush and arch were not mutually exclusive . . . Only Eve could inspire you to buy seven caftans and all the ingredients of a tequila sunrise after reading only ten pages of her books. (Cocaine and caviar were optional.)" --Signature Reads

"First published in 1979 and now back in print with Counterpoint, California queen Eve Babitz's Sex and Rage is a witty, unconventional coming-of-age story of surprising depth and pleasure . . . The book's warmth radiates from her wit and charm, as well as moments when young women recognize and affirm each other. Sex and Rage is a romp with substance--just beyond the descriptions of drinks and parties and devastating one-liners is a sweet story of a bright but messy young woman, making her own way. Nearly forty years after Sex and Rage's initial publication, Jacaranda's candid combination of moxie and sophistication feels fresh as a new generation of their private and public lives." --The Riveter Magazine