BUCKTOWN — A book about coming-of-age in Los Angeles in the early aughts topped summer reading lists and earned rave reviews from critics, but the author herself is the first to flash a gleaming white smile and caution readers they might not learn any big truths from reading it.
"You will find no profound great truths, but you will laugh," Lilibet Snellings promises of her book, "Box Girl: My Part-Time Job as an Art Installation."
While sitting on the upper patio of Goddess and Grocer at 1649 N. Damen Ave. in Wicker Park, just a few blocks from her Bucktown home, the 32-year-old Snellings said the word memoir makes her skin crawl.
"It's like a me-moir," Snellings said.
"Box Girl" recounts the various odd jobs Snellings held from the ages of 22 to 29, while she said she was being "naive enough" to think she could have made it as a writer post-college.
Booklist compared Snellings' tone to Lena Dunham of "Girls" fame while another reviewer said "Box Girl" is "one part Joan Didion, one part Holly Golightly," referring to the renown essayist and Audrey Hepburn's society girl character in "Breakfast at Tiffany's."
Self-aware and self-effacing in person and on paper, Snellings said she feels like her 20s "lasted 50 years" and centered on "a ridiculous post-collegiate, what am I doing with my life quarter life crisis."
The highlight of the collection of short chapters weaving in and out of a dizzying list of jobs is Snellings' "Box Girl" gig, which involved hanging out inside of a glass box in the lobby of The Standard Hotel in West Hollywood.
For four years and earning pay that ranged between $60 and $125 per shift, Snellings was on display as a human art installation during a near seven-hour shift that ended at either midnight or 2 a.m.
She was allowed to bring a few items into the box with her such as a laptop and a book.
Since the glass box, which had 5-foot-high ceilings, was not tall enough to stand in, Snellings often sat or sprawled out on a mattress, wearing a uniform of white shorts and a white tank top.
She was allowed to do anything she wanted except make eye contact with the people looking at her inside the 15-foot-long narrow box.
The "Box Girl" job was only one night each week because the hotel management wanted to offer a variety of different "Box Girls" in case guests stayed for multiple nights.
So Snellings was the blonde Box Girl.
In addition to being a "Box Girl," Snellings also secured reliable work as an assistant at a modeling agency in Beverly Hills, where one of her main duties was getting models to their casting appointments.
"It was like herding a pack of underfed, directionally retarded house cats," Snellings wrote in a chapter titled "Not so Model Behavior" that ends with a resignation spurred on by an incident involving a Post-it note and bikini wax request.
For those looking for juicy scenes with men, there are none to be found in the book, which also turns a spotlight on female friendships.
"It's not super racy, super Sex in the City-ish by any means," Snellings said.
Currently Snellings' book agent is negotiating an option for movie rights, as Snellings works as a freelance writer and settles into her new life in Bucktown with her husband, real estate investor Peter Kyte.
After floating between Los Angeles and Chicago for about two years, Snellings, who is originally from the East Coast and studied non-fiction writing in Colorado, moved to Bucktown in January.
"Now I am focused on being married and trying to have a baby and my next chapter of life. It's equally as complicated but a little more relaxed," Snellings said of her life with Kyte.
Snellings said she and Kyte did not look at any other neighborhoods besides Bucktown.
"I love the walkability and community here," Snellings said.
Some of her favorite local restaurants and cafes include Bento Box and La Colombe at 1552 N. Damen Ave., the latter she prefers when writing and visiting with friends because there is no Internet access in the cafe.
"I'm terrified of technology. Sometimes I long for the pre-Internet age. We've complicated everything so much. I miss the getting together in real time," Snellings said.
For more info on "Box Girl" visit www.lilibetsnellings.com.
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