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SCVNews.com | CalArts Launches Imprint With Book of Essays | 04-09-2012
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The School of Art at California Institute of the Arts in Valencia has launched its first title under its new imprint, East of Borneo Books.

The inaugural work is “Piecing Together Los Angeles: An Esther McCoy Reader,” compiled by Aperture editor Susan Morgan. The book provides an extensive sampling of the work of Esther McCoy, a prominent 20th-century essayist and architect.

Though the anthology is the first collection of McCoy’s writing, CalArts asserts that her impact on modern architecture and art criticism is unparalleled.

One of her contemporaries, architectural critic Reyner Banham once remarked, “No one can write about architecture in California without acknowledging her as the mother of us all.”

From the Great Depression to her death in 1989, McCoy spent time in Greenwich Village and Los Angeles, publishing short stories in The New Yorker and The California Quarterly. She also published six books on architecture between 1960 and 1984. Piecing Together Los Angeles will be her seventh.

At almost 400 pages, the reader contains out-of-print essays, articles, short stories and previously unpublished letters, memoirs and lectures, including such items of interest as an essay on Frank Lloyd Wright and letters between McCoy and Ray Bradbury.

In the future, East of Borneo Books hopes to continue to publish books that will “draw new attention to the best writing on the visual culture of Los Angeles.”

Supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts and The Getty Foundation, East of Borneo’s goal has always been to rethink “the way that we conceptualize, preserve and present the various histories of contemporary art.”

The title is available for purchase for $34.95 at http://www.eastofborneo.org/books/mccoy.

 

From East of Borneo Books:

McCoy’s impressive writing life spanned sixty years and charted the progressive territory of American idealism. During the 1920s, she pursued her vocation as a writer and apprenticed with novelist Theodore Dreiser. In 1932, McCoy moved to Los Angeles where she wrote for literary journals, popular magazines and progressive broadsheets. Her short stories were awarded numerous prizes, featured in publications ranging from Harper’s Bazaar to The California Quarterly, and adapted for radio and television. After completing a wartime stint as an engineering draftsman at Douglas Aircraft, McCoy went to work as an architectural draftsman for R. M. Schindler. By 1945, her attentive writing had turned significantly to architecture and the design-driven optimism of postwar Los Angeles. Her essays appeared regularly in the Los Angeles TimesArts & Architecture, Zodiac, Progressive Architecture, and Architectural Forum, and her 1960 book Five California Architects has long been acknowledged as an indispensable classic.

From fiction for The New Yorker to her seminal essays on new architectural forms, McCoy articulated the concepts and vibrant character of West Coast modernism as it was being created. This essential volume includes out-of-print essays, articles, and short stories, as well as hitherto unpublished lectures, correspondence, and memoirs that together illuminate the breadth and complexity of McCoy’s groundbreaking work. An introductory essay by writer and anthology editor Susan Morgan provides a lucid conceptual framework for understanding the development and diversity of McCoy’s writing and the region that inspired it.

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