We Britons had at that time particularly settled that it was treasonable to doubt our having and our being the best of everything: otherwise, while I was scared by the immensity of London, I think I might have had some faint doubts whether it was not rather ugly, crooked, narrow, and dirty.
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations (1861)
Ellis likes to say that the myths about L.A. are wrong, that it’s less a city of reinvention than a place where you become yourself, and he’s correct in this regard. As many actresses as have moved from Iowa and taken new names, and as delightful as it is to live in a place where no one asks about your alma mater or tries to pinpoint your family’s financial status, it’s a lonely place: There are few public spaces in the city other than hiking trails, and the distances between the most mundane activities, often spent on apocalyptic freeways, loom large in the mind. Most important, given the difficulty of making it in Hollywood in any way other than through social connections, the concern of most of those you meet is not collegiality or lasting friendship but what you can do for me, whom you can introduce me to. You find yourself staying home more often than not.