"No metropolis has been more loved or more hated. To its official boosters, "Los Angeles brings it all together." To detractors, LA is a sunlit mortuary where "you can rot without feeling it." To Mike Davis, the author of this fiercely elegant and wide-ranging work of social history, Los Angeles is both utopia and dystopia, a place where the last Joshua trees are being plowed under to make room for model communities in the desert, where the rich have hired their own police to fend off street gangs, as well as armed Beirut militias.

In City of Quartz, Davis reconstructs LA's shadow history and dissects its ethereal economy. He tells us who has the power and how they hold on to it. He gives us a city of Dickensian extremes, Pynchonesque conspiracies, and a desperation straight out of Nathaniel West - a city in which we may glimpse our own future mirrored with terrifying clarity."


At baseline, the reading of a book manifests certain complexities about what community is. It conjures childhood: hiding under covers with a flashlight, connecting intimately with someone I will never meet while moving further from those to whom I am in physical proximity. CRG hides under the covers together, making discoveries we might not be able to access without borrowing language.

The books I am proposing span genres from fiction to history to philosophy to self-help. I would argue that they share an investment in a social concept of the personal that exists in the relationship between science and other fields. The term “trauma” is likely to play a role in our discussions. In studying one of these books, I hope to examine how stories embed in matter or matters either metaphorically or in some cases literally.

– Beth Fiedorek