Episode 118: Chiara Barzini on Culture Whiplash & 90s Los Angeles

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Listen to Chiara Barzini HERE.

I adored this episode with Chiara. In it we talk about her debut novel Things That Happened Before the Earthquake, what it was like moving from Rome to LA as a teenager in the early 90s, and writing in a second language. Here is a little about the novel (and Chiara) to get you excited…

When 15-year-old Eugenia’s family is cast as the face of Italian SPAM (yes, the canned meat), her father, Ettore, decides that the logical next step is to hit up his one contact in Hollywood—the guy who wrote the Phil Collins song “Run to Paradise.” And so the family moves from Rome to post-riot, early ’90s Los Angeles—specifically to the less-than-idyllic San Fernando Valley. Eugenia’s parents quickly begin work on a low-budget psychological horror film (complete with Johnny Depp cameo). Against this wild backdrop, Eugenia begins her own cultural (and sexual) awakening—one that takes her from skipping high school classes to counter-culture Topanga Canyon, the Mojave Desert, and beyond. This hypnotizing and audacious first novel is inspired by Barzini’s own teenage years in L.A., and the unusual details are like nothing captured in fiction before.


Photo credit: Jeannette Montgomery Barron