‘The Flimsies’ by Eve Babitz

Like Gilliatt’s nature poet, Babitz’s boyfriend in ‘The Flimsies’ is a soap actor who is obsessed with his career. “Have you finished your piece?” he asks her. “Practically,” she replies. “Work on something else then. When you’re down, you should always work.” Work, he says, “really is the most important thing for people like us… For anybody. But mainly for people like us.”

A quarter of my picks constitute material that would not traditionally be called short stories, and ‘The Flimsies’ is one of them. I love the lazy flow of this story, the meandering yet concise narrative Babitz gives to this very clearly interim relationship between people who fall together only because they both work in an industry many don’t understand. ‘The Flimsies’ are the summary versions of the soap scripts, compiled by the writers to outline dramas before they’re fleshed out, and notoriously, the medium through which soap actors learn of their characters’ fates. Does it matter that the relationship Babitz is narrating is one which she actually experienced? I don’t think so.

Published in Slow Days, Fast Company: The World, the Flesh, and L.A. by Eve Babitz, Knopf, 1977l also available from New York Review of Books, 2016

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