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Publisher description for A year in Van Nuys / Sandra Tsing Loh.


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Counter Sandra Tsing Loh, a self-described neurotic, nonachieving, downwardly mobile “Dumpy,” has started to come out of denial over the fact that she does not live in Provence. Not only does she not live in Provence, she doesn’t even live in a nice part of Los Angeles. This upper-lower-middle-class suburb in the sun-swept grid of the San Fernando Valley, consistently ranked one of the worst places to live in America, whose night sky is flamed by a million fast-food neon signs and whose streets are chockablock with carnicerias, taquerias, and pupuserias, will, she’s pretty sure, never be Provence.

In A Year in Van Nuys, we find Sandra, an obscure writer, blocked at page 100 of her Great American Novel — the one that, when finished, will bring her fame, fortune, and the requisite country house in Provence. She’s 35 and she has eyebags like Bert Lahr, a too-rich, too-thin sister who torments her about her lack of initiative, and a $300-an-hour Malibu therapist. She writes for a failing women’s website — Amelia.com — makes a disastrous appearance on CNN, entertains a network’s idea about making a sitcom of her life, especially her eyebags, and watches new and old acquaintances alike succeed wildly at various pursuits. And this is merely the tip of the iceberg of a year in Sandra’s life. Divided by season — The Winter of Our Discontent, Spring Without Bending Your Knees, Summer Where We Winter, and Fall of Our Dearest Expectations — Sandra’s narrative charts a hilarious course through the anti-Hollywood, a morbid inferno that none other than Robert Redford called a “furnace that could destroy any creative thought that managed to creep into your brain.”

The result of this journey? Not thinner thighs, smoother skin, or a kind of space-age Zen Buddhist acceptance. (Notwithstanding the fact that a wise [gay] man notes that even Madonna has an inner Van Nuys.) No, the true grail turns out to be, unbelievably enough, Maturity. Which coincides, sadly, with the official end of Youth. Which, after a brief mourning period, turns out to be an odd relief for Sandra. After all, when one is no longer burdened by Youth, or Promise, or Potential, or even worldly Interest, a writer finally finds . . . the rush is over. Sandra has all the time in the world. And on a sunny blue-sky morning, a story begins to occur to her — of a 35-year-old, with Bert Lahr eyebags, who was blocked in the course of a Great American Novel in a colorful, tattered little outpost called Van Nuys . . .

Library of Congress subject headings for this publication: Van Nuys (Los Angeles, Calif, ) Social life and customs Humor, Los Angeles (Calif, ) Social life and customs Humor, Loh, Sandra Tsing, Loh, Sandra Tsing Homes and haunts California Los Angeles, Van Nuys (Los Angeles, Calif, ) Biography, Los Angeles (Calif, ) Biography