Review: Sidewalking

Sidewalking is David Ulin’s collection of thoughts composed while walking the streets of downtown LA.  Of course he’s polished those thoughts more than that, but that’s the idea.

Ulin is a New York City transplant and academic, which shapes his thought and writing style.  His views of LA are informed by comparisons to NYC’s own vibrant street life.  These places are very different, though the differences seem to constantly surprise those raised in either place.  I say that as a transplant myself who has been surprised by the differences between LA and my life.  Everyone’s experiences light LA from a different angle, and Ulin’s are both interesting and well expressed.

Ulin does have the perspective of writing as an academic.  Again, I have some experience in that world, and we often write for posterity.  Ulin does this, citing historical perspectives and framing his physical and literary ramblings against the policy initiatives that LA city government are carrying out to revitalize downtown.  It’s a nice combination of erudition and street experience, albeit from different streets.  For me many of his thoughts are as much conversation starters as pronouncements. I keep wanting to say “yeah, but in Southern California…”

And I’m no native.

Overall, an interesting read.

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