cover image Frantic Transmissions to and from Los Angeles

Frantic Transmissions to and from Los Angeles

Kate Braverman, . . Graywolf, $15 (217pp) ISBN 978-1-55597-438-1

Experimental poet and novelist Braverman (The Incantation of Frida K. ) proffers a brash, witty memoir comprising a dozen bubbling, occasionally repetitive essays chronicling her 1990s move from L.A. to an upstate New York farmhouse. After the last spate of riots and a major earthquake, the 40-something Braverman decides to quit the city of her birth and head to the Allegheny Mountains to live through brutal winters with her husband, an academic scientist, and teenage daughter. In the first and funniest essay, Braverman relates how a longtime denizen of L.A. like herself manages to leave, an ordeal in itself: "Such a departure requires magical intervention." Then she is prey to advice from others, such as Uncle Irving, who gives the lowdown on their Jewish family's desperate emigration from the Old World: "They couldn't even invent a past with a single exception to impoverishment." In six "Transmission" essays, Braverman delineates her thorny new eastern habitat, where she enjoys four bathrooms, gardening and "active correspondence necessitating pens and the postal service"; with snow falling for eight consecutive months, she even craves the crass fantasyland of L.A. malls. In fact, once removed from that city's crime and materialism, Braverman finds she can draw in sharp relief its "accumulated atrocities." (Feb.)