URBAN STUDIES AND THEORY

PUBLISHER
EAST OF BORNEO BOOKS

BOOK FORMAT
Paperback, 6 x 8.25 in. / 392 pgs / 6 bw.

PUBLISHING STATUS
PUB DATE 5/30/2012
Active

DISTRIBUTION
D.A.P. EXCLUSIVE
CATALOG: FALL 2012 p. 130   

PRODUCT DETAILS
ISBN 9780615528236 TRADE
LIST PRICE: $34.95 CDN $34.95

AVAILABILITY
In stock

The first anthology of McCoy's influential writings on midcentury Californian architecture.

"Reading through Piecing Together Los Angeles, edited by Susan Morgan, we are in the company of a writer with a reach that takes her way beyond architecture. Among the strongest pieces included are a series of memoirs, in which McCoy describes friends and personal experiences with the same exactitude she brings to buildings and architectural ideas. The opening essay, 'Patchin Place: A Memoir,' with its small cast of oddball characters, is one of the best things ever written about Greenwich Village in the late 1920s. McCoy composes a portrait in miniature of Bonnie Grainger, a novelist who ran a speakeasy in her home and 'also played the guitar—cowboy songs, sea shanties, English folk songs and, after hearing Pablo Casals, she searched through second hand music stores for Bach scores, which she played.' McCoy’s memories are sharp and concise. Her few pages about living on Zuma Beach in Malibu in the 1930s, when 'everybody who stopped off at the beach cottage…was looking for work,' convey a melancholy no longer easy to associate with that part of the world. And she offers a beautiful account of the death of Theodore Dreiser, for whom she had worked on and off as a researcher for years. Everything is glinting suggestions, nothing is held too long. She recalls Helen, Dreiser’s wife, saying 'You know why Teddy likes you, don’t you?' And McCoy continues: 'for some reason, not wanting to hear why, I had laughed, and she had joined me in laughter and so I never really knew. It was unlike me to guard myself against knowing; but I had.'"

Jed Pearl, The New Republic

  

EAST OF BORNEO BOOKS

Piecing Together Los Angeles: An Esther McCoy Reader

Published by East of Borneo Books
By Esther McCoy. Edited and with text by Susan Morgan.

Featured image, of Esther McCoy (left) and her
mother, c. 1947, is reproduced from <I>Piecing Together Los Angeles: An Esther McCoy Reader</I>.Esther McCoy (1904–1989) is one of the twentieth century’s foremost architecture historians, and one of the greatest chroniclers of the architecture of midcentury southern California. Her 1960 book Five California Architects has long been acknowledged as an indispensable classic, and as Reyner Banham famously observed of her, “no one can write about architecture in California without acknowledging her as the mother of us all.” Piecing Together Los Angeles: An Esther McCoy Reader is the first anthology of McCoy’s writing. It features a selection of some 70 pieces--ranging from her 1945 article “Schindler, Space Architect” to “Arts & Architecture: Case Study Houses,” a 1989 essay commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. From fiction for The New Yorker to seminal essays on new architectural forms, McCoy charts the progressive edge of American idealism, from the collective utopian spirit of Jazz Age Greenwich Village, through the Depression and the war years, to the optimism of the 1950s and 1960s. In preparing this volume, writer and editor Susan Morgan extensively researched the McCoy papers at the Archives of American Art. Her editorial decisions were based, in part, on McCoy’s original selections for an unrealized anthology solicited by W. W. Norton in 1968. Expanding on that project, Morgan has included essays, articles, lectures, correspondence, memoirs and short stories that illuminate the breadth and complexity of McCoy’s writing and the southern California region that inspired her groundbreaking work.

Featured image, of Esther McCoy (left) and her mother, c. 1947, is reproduced from Piecing Together Los Angeles: An Esther McCoy Reader.

PRAISE AND REVIEWS

The New Republic

Jed Perl

McCoy has long been a hero among students of modern architecture in southern California, a subject scarcely defined until she came along. What has not yet been sufficiently recognized is the subdued power of McCoy's prose. There is an extraordinary delicacy in the way McCoy moves from the idea of architecture to the reality. Now, with the publication of Piecing Together Los Angeles, we can see deep into McCoy's complex imagination.

Architectural Record

Alexandra Lange

Affection isn’t a word often used to describe architecture criticism, but that’s the ruling emotion of Piecing Together Los Angeles, the first collection of the writings of California historian and critic Esther McCoy (1904-89). There’s McCoy’s affection for Los Angeles superstars like Charles Eames, Pierre Koenig and John Lautner when they were young and needed books like McCoy’s Five California Architects (1960) to give their work a backstory—and when they were old, and the world needed a reminder of their talents. Reyner Banham called McCoy “the founding mother” and said, “She has the gift of friendship...and is profoundly concerned about people... and that is one of the special strengths she brings to her architectural writing.” This book, which collects McCoy’s never-finished memoirs, essays on three generations of California architects, fiction, and retrospective essays from the 1980s, is the product of editor Susan Morgan’s affection for McCoy’s whole project.

FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG

CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 5/10/2012

"Schindler, Space Architect" Excerpted from Piecing Together Los Angeles: An Esther McCoy Reader

Schindler, Space Architect Excerpted from Piecing Together Los Angeles: An Esther McCoy Reader
In 1945, while working as a draftsman in R.M. Schindler's office, Esther McCoy was invited to write an article on Southern California by the left-wing East Coast art journal, Direction. According to Susan Morgan, editor of East of Borneo Books' remarkable new essay collection, Piecing Together Los Angeles, McCoy responded with “Schindler: Space Architect,” and her career as an architectural writer began in earnest. McCoy's "precisely drawn firsthand account of Schindler’s practice and his dynamic use of space as a fundamental building material" is reproduced below, from Piecing Together Los Angeles.
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