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Nowhere City, The (Abacus Books) [Paperback]

Alison Lurie
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Jan 1991 Abacus Books
To Los Angeles comes Paul Cattleman, a young historian newly married to Katherine. Paul immediately takes to the city, but Katherine's catarrh is exacerbated by the smog. Paul meets the uninhibited Ceci and Katherine eventually takes a secretarial job, working for Iz Einsam, a psychiatrist.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere Books Ltd; New e. edition (1 Jan 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349122113
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349122113
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 13 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 758,378 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I really enjoyed this, it's a good yarn and not as serious as a lot of Lurie's works. There's a strong sense of period (I don't know when she actually wrote the book) with a highly entertaining mix of LA 1960's themes: the comic Germanic shrink, the blonde starlet, the pre-hippyish beatnik bars... and into this world wander the two protagonists, a young and rather staid couple from East Coast Academia. Lots of fun!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Squares, starlets and proto-hippies in 60s LA 11 Mar 2010
Paul and Katherine, an extremely square academic couple from New England arrive in `60s Los Angeles for Paul's job. They are not getting on. Paul is initially taken with the freedom and casualness of the city and starts an affair with Ceci, an artist and beatnik. Katherine hates LA and is always ill. But then she meets a sexy psychoanalyst. And gradually their attitudes to the city change...

This satirically deadpan book directs its light irony at `liberal' `60s academia, trendy psychoanalysis, hyocritical Hollywood, tawdry commercialism, heartless big business and selfish Bohemians. I loved it! It's intelligent and thought-provoking while being a smooth and easy read - totally the best combination. Alison Lurie has become one of my favourite writers. I can't believe she's not better known than she is.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Eternal Dizzying Present 20 July 2012
By J C E Hitchcock TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Like Alison Lurie's first novel, "Love and Friendship", her second deals with marital disharmony among members of America's academic community. Whereas the earlier book, however, was set in a wintry New England, "The Nowhere City" takes place in sunny California. Paul Cattleman, a young university historian, accepts a job with a big corporation based in Los Angeles to write the company's history.

One of the major themes of the book is cultural differences between America's East and West coasts. Paul and his wife Katherine are both Easterners, she from an upper-class New England family. At first they react to their change of scene in very different ways. Paul loves Los Angeles for its sunny climate and its relaxed lifestyle. Katherine, on the other hand, hates the city. This is partly because the atmospheric pollution aggravates her allergies, but mostly because she regards it as a cultural wasteland, the "nowhere city" of the book's title. Los Angeles, to her, appears to have no sense of history, to be a place living in "an eternal dizzying present", where the differences between the seasons, and even between day and night, are less distinct than they are in the north-east.

The differences between the couple create tensions within their marriage. Paul begins an affair with a young waitress named Ceci and gets drawn into her circle of unconventional friends living in Venice Beach, at that time a centre for the beatnik community. (The book is set in the early sixties).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lurie is always superb 8 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
If you've never read any Alison Lurie then please do: she's one of the best writers working in the English language today and her comedies of manners are subtle, wise and far more profound than they might appear at first glance. She also debunks the received idea that America has no class system.

Mostly her novels, while written in the 60s, 70s and 80s, have a timeless quality. This is less true of The Nowhere City than others given that some of the characters are beatniks and their language, such as referring to people as 'cat's, is comically dated; still, the human nature on display has not changed, nor the vexed relationships between men and women -- the subject which are Lurie's bread and butter. It also differs from such classics as Love & Friendship and The War Between the Tates by being set in Los Angeles, the eponymous city, where a pair of east-coast preppies are fishes out of water, with all their smug assumptions challenged, for good or ill.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A sardonic look at Los Angeles and its people 28 Feb 2013
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
The Nowhere City is Los Angeles - at least this is how it strikes Katherine Cattleman, who never wanted to come out to California from Harvard; but her historian husband Paul, disappointed at not getting a teaching fellowship, had thought of improving his CV by taking up a year's post at the Nutting Research and Development Corporation to write the Corporation's history. Paul loves everything about sunny, garish, brash, thrusting California in the 1960s, but Katherine hates it all, especially as the smog-laden atmosphere there and her unhappiness aggravate the painful sinusitis to which she is a martyr. Sexually she is, and has always been, merely passive. During her first couple of months there she is a feeble invalid - while Paul enjoys his work and it is no wonder that he begins a relationship with Ceci, a comely waitress in a coffee shop who is surprisingly literate - and surprising in other ways, too. She and her beatnik friends live in a derelict neighbourhood having the inappropriate name of Venice, whose dilapidation in described with the same relish as Lurie describes the more affluent parts of Los Angeles (or its inhabitants, whom she observes with, I think, sardonic New England distaste: in one place she describes them as having "a look of being cheaply made - put together, like the clothes they wore, out of shoddy materials, and coloured with harsh chemical dyes.") Paul likes Ceci's beatnik friends and, when he is in Venice, he tries to be part of the beat scene himself, but ... It's quite hilarious.

Meanwhile Katherine has pulled herself together enough to get a secretarial job in the Psychology Department of UCLA, where she works mainly for Iz Einsam, a smug and infuriating psychiatrist whom his Hollywood dolly-bird starlet wife has just left.
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