I Feel Earthquakes More Often Than They Happen: Coming to California in the Age of Schwarzenegger

Amy Wilentz, Author . Simon & Schuster $26 (322p) ISBN 978-0-7432-6439-6

For those living outside the Golden State, it's easy to forget that somewhere "out west" there is a land of sunshine and Schwarzenegger that may be a bigger force in shaping America's idea of itself than any self-respecting New Yorker would admit. Into this California—"the New World's new world, America's America" as Wilentz describes it—plunges the former Jerusalem correspondent for the New Yorker and lifelong East Coaster. Her book is both social criticism and the memoir of a self-described "catastrophist," who fled New York not long after 9/11 (having first bought an inflatable boat to escape her Upper West Side apartment in case of emergency). With pessimistic wit that is pure East Coast, Wilentz regards California, and Los Angeles in particular, as the same kind of strange and dark-hearted place it was for Nathanael West. Through Wilentz's Gulliveresque chronicles of the gubernatorial recall, natural disasters and Hollywood, there surfaces a clear affinity for the "showmanship" and "blowhardism" upon which California is founded. It is, Wilentz writes, America's "sunny coast of the imagination"—a dreamworld with all the confusion and awesomeness that implies. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 05/29/2006
Release date: 08/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 332 pages - 978-0-7432-6440-2
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4165-3805-9
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