California Childhood: Recollections and Stories of the Golden State

Gary Soto, Editor Creative Arts Book Company $9.94 (255p) ISBN 978-0-88739-057-9
Poet and essayist Soto gathers 32 recollections and short stories that attempt to represent perspectives from Northern to Southern Californiaurban and rural, coastal and inland. Although Soto's bland introduction is uninviting and quite a few of the works are mediocre and non-California related, a few do stand out for their appeal, such as ``A Juk-Sing Opera,'' which shares the ``guilt . . . of that generation of Chinese-Americans who fled the Chinatowns. The invisible breed. The shamed, who . . . cannot escape our yellow skins behind masks of white.'' ``Siddhartha'' is a short poignant account of a child whose religious mother``so attuned to the world as illusion''perversely wants to die alone, as the family cat died, ``utterly absorbed in an instinctual world in which illusion cannot be conceived.'' In ``The Horned Toad,'' another fine piece, a youth is confronted with the indomitable, alien personality of his great-grandmother. Many of the writers are middle-aged or older, and they provide through their works a sociological context for the pastWW I, the '20s, the Depression, WW IIas well as the added dimension of regional history, as in ``Recollections of a Valley Past.'' California's diverse ethnicity is also well portrayed. Photos not seen by PW. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1988
Release date: 03/01/1988
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