Conceived as a novelistic journey through the worlds of California, West of the West offers a vivid and diverse collection of writings on the state where extremes of every sort are dramatically evident in the weather, geography, and people. This richly fascinating collection represents the experience of California both physical and metaphysical, in fiction, poetry, essays, travel writing, confessions, reportage, and social criticism. The authors are native Californians, born-again Californians, exiles, émigrés, critics, and visitors of every kind—Jack Kerouac, Joan Didion, Amy Tan, Simone de Beauvoir, Carey McWilliams, Tom Wolfe, Gore Vidal, Octavio Paz, Jean Baudrillard, Ishmael Reed, Allen Ginsberg—to name just a few.
An anthology of fact and fiction written about California captures myriad visions of theelusiveness and genius of place long associated with the Golden Land.
To Theodore Roosevelt, California was ``west of the west''; to Joan Didion, it is a ``place in which a boom mentality and a sense of Chekhovian loss meet in uneasy suspension.'' Michaels ( The Men's Club ), Scherr (coauthor of Face Value ) and Reid (coauthor of Pure Silver ) here assemble a distinctive collection of writings--fiction, poetry, essays, travelers' tales, reportage, journals--to analyze the California mystique. Most of the material covers the last 50 years, though a few pieces reach back into the 19th century. Topics are as varied as the state's scenery: sex and drugs, murder, youth gangs, internment of the Japanese in World War II, Hollywood, hippies, Esalen, student revolt in the '60s, the desert. Simone de Beauvoir records her impressions of San Francisco and Berkeley; Umberto Eco writes about cults and the Jonestown suicides; Amy Tan takes us to a meeting of the Joy Luck Club; Tom Wolfe introduces the Pump House Gang. Whether the reader views California as Paradise or purgatory, this anthology will confirm either vision. (Oct.)
M. F. K. Fisher
Simone de Beauvoir
Maxine Hong Kingston
Ralph J. Gleason
James D. Houston
Leo E. Litwak