Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Gavin Lambert has written extensively about films and Hollywood as the founder of Sequence, former editor of Sight and Sound, and author of On Cukor (1972) and The Making of “Gone with the Wind” (1973). He has written or co-written such screenplays as Bitter Victory (1957), Sons and Lovers (1960), and I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1977). The themes of “The Slide Area” are also examined in other stories in The Slide Area: Scenes of Hollywood Life (1959), his 1963 novel Inside Daisy Clover, and his screenplay for the 1965 film version of the latter. Lambert’s Hollywood fiction is in the tradition of such British examinations of the Los Angeles scene as the novels Prater Violet (1945) by Christopher Isherwood and The Loved One (1948) by Evelyn Waugh, as well as Paul Mayersberg’s nonfiction Hollywood: The Haunted House (1967).

The protagonist of “The Slide Area” is less the narrator than Los Angeles itself, which Lambert sees as representative of the United States, a metaphor for the aimlessness of twentieth century life. Los Angeles lacks any definite identity because it is constantly in a state of flux, is “a comfortable unfinished desert” in which “between where you are and where you are going to be is a no-man’s land.” The crumbling cliffs of the Pacific Palisades perfectly embody the way in which chaos always lurks...

(The entire section is 581 words.)