Ulin, David L. 1961(?)-
Ulin, David L. 1961(?)-
Home—Los Angeles, CA.
Editor and freelance writer. Los Angeles Reader, book editor, 1993-96; Los Angeles Times, book editor and editor of the Los Angeles Times Book Review, 2005—.
National Book Critics Circle (member of board of directors, 2008—).
Cape Cod Blues, Red Dust, 1992.
(Editor) Another City: Writing from Los Angeles, City Lights (San Francisco, CA), 2001.
(Editor) Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology, Library of America (New York, NY), 2002.
(Contributor of essays, with Michael Dear and Tim B. Wride) Robbert Flick, Trajectories, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA), 2004.
The Myth of Solid Ground: Earthquakes, Prediction, and the Fault Line between Reason and Faith, Viking (New York, NY), 2004.
(Author of essay) Looking at Los Angeles, edited by Marla Hamburg Kennedy and Ben Stiller, Metropolis Books (New York, NY), 2005.
(Author of introduction) Teresa Carmody, Requiem, Les Figues Press (Los Angeles, CA), 2005.
Contributor to periodicals, including Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Nation, Atlantic Monthly, GQ, New York Times Book Review, and LA Weekly.
David L. Ulin is the book editor for the Los Angeles Times and editor of the Los Angeles Times Book Review. Ulin graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and began writing for a number of periodicals. He published his first book, Cape Cod Blues, in 1992.
In 2002 Ulin edited Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology. With nearly eighty contributors with listed credentials on writing about Los Angeles, Ulin gives a portrait of the vast city. Contributor stories range from specific streets and industries to the region as a whole.
Library Journal contributor Sue Samson "recommended" the book. Alex Lee, writing in Yale Review of Books, stated: "As a showcase of literary greatness, Ulin's book leaves something to be desired. With the exception of Raymond Chandler, not one of the authors has his best work on display. The native authors are second rate, and the visitors' works tend to immature polemic. For the most part they are complaining." Lee conceded, however, that "the uneven quality of the book is made up for in depth of focus." Lee continued, noting that "the contributors each provide their own perspective on the city, at times complementing and at times conflicting with each other." Lee concluded that for readers "willing to encounter LA on its own terms, [Writing Los Angeles] is strangely seductive."
Booklist contributor Connie Fletcher called the collection "stunning" and "wide-ranging." Fletcher added that "the brilliance of this anthology is in the editor's determination to showcase as many facets of L.A. as possible, warts, beauty marks, and all." A contributor to the Economist opened the review by saying that "this excellent anthology reminds us that, artistically speaking, there is more to Los Angeles than movies." The same contributor mentioned that "even now, Los Angeles rarely gets the attentive ear it deserves. Writing Los Angeles goes some way—at nearly 900 pages, actually quite a long way—towards putting that right." Amanda Cockrell, writing in Hollins Critic, called the anthology "splendid." Cockrell concluded: "In over 800 pages, not every one is a winner, but all are pure L.A. If you hate Los Angeles, you will be vindicated. If you are perverse enough to love it, you will find your justification here. And if you have never been there, this is the place to start."
After moving to California, Ulin developed a fascination with earthquakes. In 2004 he published The Myth of Solid Ground: Earthquakes, Prediction, and the Fault Line between Reason and Faith. In this book he covers the range of opinion Californians have about the inevitable seismic events, including the full gamut of opinion from seismologists to astrologers and those who believe that they can sense the previbrations of an earthquake.
Alex Lash, writing on the SF Station Web site, noted that "curiously, there's not a single map … to orient us, despite many discussions of specific fault segments." But Lash commented that "Ulin certainly explores enough science to satisfy quake hobbyists. He does enough road-tripping to qualify his book as a California seismo-social study." Lash remarked: "But ultimately Ulin has an ulterior motive, using the framework of science and sociology to explore what he calls his own ‘eternity on the cosmic level.’ Thankfully, for all his hazy solemnity … Ulin is self-aware enough and Californian enough to sum up earthquakes with the word his young son utters after a temblor shakes the house one night: Cool." Wook Kim, writing in Entertainment Weekly, called the book "smart and engaging." Kim also commented that after reading the book, readers will "think twice about the ground beneath your feet."
Ian Gordon, writing in Library Journal, "recommended" the book, citing his belief that "Ulin writes in an accessible style." Booklist contributor Donna Seaman found that Ulin "takes a fresh and fluently metaphorical, mythological, and personal approach to earthquakes and our attempts to predict them." Seaman added that "Ulin's volatile combination of rarefied thought and gut reaction is uniquely his own." A contributor to the Midwest Book Review described the book as an "excellent treatise on earthquakes," adding that it "holds an approach unique in the genre." Susan Hough, writing in American Scientist, found that "there is little if anything in The Myth of Solid Ground to appeal to the educated, scientifically inclined reader, who may occasionally find the book entertaining but will probably more often find it irritating. The volume is without question a deeply personal expression of one man's impression of the natural world." Hough conceded, however, that for those interested in alternative theories of earthquakes, The Myth of Solid Ground "is an interesting little journey into the stratosphere."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Scientist, July 1, 2005, Susan Hough, review of The Myth of Solid Ground: Earthquakes, Prediction, and the Fault Line between Reason and Faith, p. 374.
Atlantic Monthly, October, 2002, Benjamin Schwarz, review of Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology, p. 159.
Booklist, September 15, 2002, Connie Fletcher, review of Writing Los Angeles, p. 195; August, 2004, Donna Seaman, review of The Myth of Solid Ground, p. 1884.
Economist, January 11, 2003, review of Writing Los Angeles.
Entertainment Weekly, July 23, 2004, Wook Kim, review of The Myth of Solid Ground, p. 82.
Hollins Critic, June, 2004, Amanda Cockrell, review of Writing Los Angeles, p. 18.
Library Journal, October 1, 2002, Sue Samson, review of Writing Los Angeles, p. 95; August, 2004, Ian Gordon, review of The Myth of Solid Ground, p. 115.
Los Angeles Times, September 9, 2001, review of Another City: Writing from Los Angeles, p. 2; December 2, 2001, review of Another City, p. 31; October 27, 2002, review of Writing Los Angeles, p. 3; December 8, 2002, review of Writing Los Angeles, p. 25.
Midwest Book Review, December, 2004, review of The Myth of Solid Ground.
New Yorker, December 16, 2002, Lauren Porcaro, "Go West, and Write about It," p. 22.
Reference & Research Book News, February, 2003, review of Writing Los Angeles, p. 232.
Review of Contemporary Fiction, fall, 1992, Steven Moore, review of Cape Cod Blues.
Science News, August 14, 2004, review of The Myth of Solid Ground, p. 111.
SciTech Book News, September, 2004, review of The Myth of Solid Ground, p. 55.
Yale Review of Books, spring, 2004, Alex Lee, review of Writing Los Angeles.
Archinet,http://www.archinet.com/ (April 18, 2006), author interview.
LA City Beat,http://www.lacitybeat.com/ (February 10, 2008), Steve Appleford, author interview.
Mark Sarvas,http://marksarvas.blogs.com/ (September 21, 2005), Mark Sarvas, author interview.
SF Station,http://www.sfstation.com/ (October 15, 2004), Alex Lash, review of The Myth of Solid Ground.