West of the West: Imagining California: An Anthology

Leonard Michaels, Editor, Raquel Scherr, Editor, David Reid, Editor North Point Press $22.95 (332p) ISBN 978-0-86547-403-1
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.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989
Release date: 10/01/1989
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 332 pages - 978-0-06-097364-3
Ebook - 348 pages - 978-0-520-91664-7
Paperback - 348 pages - 978-0-520-20164-4
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