Cruising State: Growing up in Southern California

Overview

"I know it's simplistic," writes Christopher Buckley, "but nine out of ten days all I want to do is drive an old Chevy again, lean back against the wide bench seat, switch the AM radio on to a game, shift that 3-speed on the column, and cruise with the windows down." You can almost feel the sun-warmed vinyl against the shoulder blades as you read this memoir of childhood and adolescence in California, the Golden State, in what now seems a golden time: the 1950s through the early 1970s. Cherishing a more innocent time and richer environment - a
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Overview

"I know it's simplistic," writes Christopher Buckley, "but nine out of ten days all I want to do is drive an old Chevy again, lean back against the wide bench seat, switch the AM radio on to a game, shift that 3-speed on the column, and cruise with the windows down." You can almost feel the sun-warmed vinyl against the shoulder blades as you read this memoir of childhood and adolescence in California, the Golden State, in what now seems a golden time: the 1950s through the early 1970s. Cherishing a more innocent time and richer environment - a quality of life largely vanished now in America - Buckley vividly re-creates both the physical and social details of being young in that place and time. Buckley describes a bike ride "through a world shaped like a tunnel beneath the overhang of camphors, pine, and oaks," the perfect baseball glove "that would close like a Venus flytrap over any ball it touched," or the required tennis shoes: "If you were a surfer, they were blue." He also movingly recalls the particulars of his own experience: his restless, demanding father; the claustrophobia of a dead-end job at a grocery; and the dawning joy of discovering poetry and his own ability as a writer. What Buckley calls "the fire at the edge of things" - the blindingly rapid changes in society, politics, and technology - glows brightly throughout the eighteen narratives in the book. Any discussion of these issues takes place in the context of people's lives - either Buckley's or those of his friends - rather than in abstract terms. Cruising State is thus a document that is deeply personal, yet ultimately universal, not merely for members of the author's generation, but for all of us.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In these 18 delightfully fresh essays, reprinted from such journals as the Cimarron Review and Denver Quarterly, California poet Buckley (Blue Autumn) recollects the ``cheap grace of youth''-in his case, the youth of a poet. He recaptures growing up in the '50s, '60s and '70s in the woodsy suburbs of Santa Barbara, discovering the ``speed, light, air and water'' of surfing, ``no hands'' bike racing and cruising in his '59 Chevy. In the midst of schooling and stockboy jobs, as a young man Buckley also showed a poetic bent, and later he taught creative writing. The essays end in praise of surfing, which for Buckley represents the good life-before the Vietnam War began, before crowded malls took root and heavy metal got its start. (Oct.)
Library Journal
The title of this coming-of-age book is a bit misleading. The author, a journalist who here condenses work published elsewhere, actually grew up in the Santa Barbara area, primarily in the enclave of Montecito, and references to any other part of Southern California is purely geographical. Santa Barbara is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the country, and even though Buckley speaks of how dull things were in the Fifties when he was a teenager, he still has affection for the city he refers to as popular with "the newly wed and the newly dead." His recollections of his youth and incredible knack for remembering names, places, and events will strike a responsive chord with many readers now in their late forties and early fifties. This breezy, well-written work is well worth consideration by public libraries.-Joseph L. Carlson, Vandenberg Air Force Base Lib., Cal.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780874172478
  • Publisher: University of Nevada Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/1994
  • Series: Western Literature Series
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 0.80 (d)

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