Novelist Clancy Sigal Asks: ‘Why is LA So Boring?’

Early on in Clancy Sigal’s scintillating deconstruction of the March 5 Los Angeles city election, he references Raymond Chandler‘s detective Philip Marlowe. As the piece rolls on, it’s easy to imagine a modernized screen version of that character voicing passages like this:

In Chicago, my home town, we all knew how to get something done: you sold your vote to a precinct captain who passed it along to an alderman and so on up a trail of corruption to the mayor’s office. In the process we got robbed blind but also shared a civic sense that in a perverse way we counted for something.

Not so in dull, low-voter-turnout LA, the 87-year-old Sigal bemoans, a region encircled by 29 townships “you’ve never heard of” and watched over by a termed-out mayor with “great teeth and fine skin.” It’s also a place anchored for centuries now to the larger and more pervasive forces of homeowner associations, real estate development, water politics, immigration and service unions.

Sigal’s new book Hemingway Lives! comes out next month. In the meantime, do yourself a favor and read Why is LA So Boring?