California Fault: Searching for the Spirit of a State along the San Andreas

California Fault: Searching for the Spirit of a State along the San Andreas

by Thurston Clarke, William Windom
     
 

California has seduced millions with its breathtaking beauty and rich resources. For decades it symbolized the good life: perfect weather, spectacular beaches, agricultural bounty, limitless opportunity, endless optimism. To Clarke it had always promised "a new start, a kinder providence, a rebirth of soul and body." Yet the social problems and natural disasters… See more details below

Overview

California has seduced millions with its breathtaking beauty and rich resources. For decades it symbolized the good life: perfect weather, spectacular beaches, agricultural bounty, limitless opportunity, endless optimism. To Clarke it had always promised "a new start, a kinder providence, a rebirth of soul and body." Yet the social problems and natural disasters of recent years have tarnished the image of the Golden State. To find out what really happened to the California dream, Clarke set off on a remarkable journey down the San Andreas fault, searching for the places and the people who could enlighten him and perhaps answer the provocative question: What is it like living in a place that no matter how beautiful, might suddenly strike you dead? What emerges is a unique portrait of a fascinating, slightly loony, appealingly complex state, with it allure, eccentricity—and optimism—still wonderfully intact.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Travel writer Clarke has an original and entertaining angle on California in this meandering odyssey: the death-defying souls who live atop the most earthquake-prone regions of the country. With geological fault map in hand, he visits endangered communities from Eureka in the north to the Salton Sea in the south, and talks with such improbable characters as the man whose recurrent headaches and stomach upsets forewarn and pinpoint an unusual number of severe and minor quakes; the folks at Bodega Bay who consider the San Andreas fault their "patron saint" because it prevented Pacific Gas & Electric's astonishing plan to build a nuclear power plant on the fault, and kept away offshore oil drillers and strip miners; or the woman in Los Gatos who refused disaster relief for her quake-damaged house because she didn't want government computers to know the color of her panties. Interspersed with such irreverent tales are geological data, history and portraits of endangered communities in denial, still cleaving to the optimism of the "California dream." (Apr.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Listeners who get past the initial explanation of Clarke's odd fascination with the study of natural disaster, particularly earthquakes, will be richly rewarded for their patience. While the book is based on a report of his travels and studies of the earthquake phenomena primarily in California, it is also a sociological study of the development of a unique land and people. As Clarke drives along the fault from Northern to Southern California, he talks about the unusual, sometimes gifted people he meets and the discoveries he makes. Much time is devoted to discussing signs of impending quakes and errors in the reporting of earthquake dangers and losses during the 1800s and early 1900s. He introduces individuals who predict earthquakes, giving background information and documenting their successes (or lack thereof). His style of writing is softened by personal observations and colorful explanations of historically relevant incidents. Clarke's ability to look at the past to bring sharper focus on the future is probably the most remarkable element of his narrative. EmmyR-winning actor William Windom uses his wonderful gravel-edged voice and superior reading skills to enhance this worthwhile project. Recommended for general/public libraries in California, for most natural disaster and environmental collections, and for those interested in insightful glimpses into the relatively recent history and future of California.Carolyn Alexander, Brigadoon Lib., Salinas, Cal.
Kirkus Reviews
In this thoroughly entertaining travel narrative, Clarke (Pearl Harbor Ghosts: A Journey to Hawaii Then and Now, 1991, etc.) takes the measure of the San Andreas fault, that 750-mile scar running head to foot through California, and finds residing along the crack a sideshow's worth of oddballs, shysters, and ugly memories.

The fault comes ashore in rugged, remote Shelter Cove, where Clarke picks it up. One of those real-estate diddles classic to coastal developments, the cove is the source for an endless river of cranks, misfits, eccentrics, and garden variety weirdos running down the fault line: folks with headaches that predict earthquakes (perhaps the magnetite in their inner ears picks up electromagnetic signals from grinding tectonic plates); the insane Hoods gang members who commit meanness in Saratoga; garlic thieves in Gilroy; vicious counterculturalists in Bolinas; a pathetic, bloated flasher with a car full of Wendy's wrappers. More gratifying is the Anderson Valley Advertiser, "the funniest, nastiest, most high- minded and vulgar, entertaining, and addictive small-town weekly newspaper in the nation," and its editor Bruce Anderson. Then again, Clarke never shrinks from serious business: He chronicles the devastation of the Wiyot Indians around Eureka and experiences the brutal clearcuts of Humboldt and Mendocino counties, where the land has come to resemble the "fur of a sick cat" (unhappily, since redwoods can be used as seismic timetables—Clarke is forever on the quake beat). Knit through the journey, pretty much stealing the show, are Clarke's tack-sharp landscape sketches, for the San Andreas is a genius at "creating razorback ridges, folded green hills, soaring sea cliffs, pink mountains rising from desert, and jumbled wine-friendly valleys."

A nearly edible travelogue—smooth as mousse, full of savory tidbits, and memorable.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781574531305
Publisher:
Audio Literature
Publication date:
09/28/1999
Edition description:
Abridged, 2 Cassettes
Product dimensions:
4.39(w) x 7.02(h) x 0.75(d)

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