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I'm looking for a contemporary book set in Los Angeles that is not crime fiction and preferably doesn't have to do with Hollywood and celebrities unless it describes the city really well. I have yet to find this book so hopefully this board/group will help with my search!
If you really want to know the city, I would go with nonfiction, especially memoirs, e.g., Joan Didion. I enjoyed Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice. It is contemporary fiction, but set in early seventies on LA's westside. Although its protagonist is a pi, it does not have the feel of a crime novel (unless you take parody seriously). It is not contemporary, however, The Day Of The Locust by Nathanael West masterfully captures what Hollywood was and still is all about. It is timeless.
I am scheduled to receive Peaceful Places: Los Angeles by Laura Randall through Early Reviewers. I'll be writing my review once I get it. It might be an different twist on the city that you are looking for.
Literary L.A. by Lionel Rolfe - Bio vignettes of authors who spent time in L.A. and where and how they spent it: Huxley, Mann, London, Lowry, Maugham, Isherwood, Faulkner, Steinbeck and others.
Traffic and Laughter by Ted Mooney
Play It As It Lays by Didion -- does deal w/Hollywood mostly (regarding the OP), but describes L.A. like few have and probably ever will.
Blonde, Joyce Carol Oates' fictional biography about Marilyn Monroe.
Le Ravissement de Britney Spears by Jean Rolin (not sure it has been translated) has a terrific overview of the city and how to travel by bus (or difficulty thereof!). It's a fictional look at the paparazzi.
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