Monday, December 2, 2013

Book review: "Depth Takes a Holiday" by Sandra Tsing Loh

I like Sandra Tsing Loh a lot, but I couldn't get through "Depth Takes a Holiday."

Loh is a funny and perceptive social commentater if you live in the L.A. area, you may have heard her on the radio but there are two fundamental issues working against this 1996 book today.

First, the book is a collection of essays Loh wrote in 1992 through 1995, and I was reading the book in 2013. If this was "Moby Dick" or "The Grapes of Wrath" that kind of age wouldn't matter, but Loh's material is very topical, so this book seems really old. She includes a lot of references to pop culture and TV commercials that I just didn't get.

Second, the book is very L.A.-centric. I live just outside Los Angeles, and I work in L.A., but a lot of her references to the city and specific places were lost on me.  For example, "He was a mild-mannered fellow who had a small, shabby office in North Hollywood, right off Lakershim. Or, I should say, off-off Lankershim." I have no idea what joke she is making there. I can only imagine how puzzled someone from Georgia or New Hampshire would be.

I read about half the book 12 of the essays. The best was "Nudes on Ice," about a Las Vegas show that Loh attended. Also very good were "Joystick," "Women's Day," and "These Little Town Blues."

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