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Golden Days (California Fiction) Paperback – October 6, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0520206731 ISBN-10: 0520206738

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Product Details

  • Series: California Fiction
  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (October 6, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520206738
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520206731
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #823,757 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

See, who is the author of three previous, rather quiet, sensitive novels, a partner in the authorship of blockbuster pop sagas (Lotus Land, 110 Shanghai Roadp and an admired Los Angeles Times book reviewer, has found an entirely new voice for her most current novel, a breakout if ever there was one. Her publisher mentions Joan Didion, Anne Tyler and Nora Ephron, but none quite evokes the wry yet deeply felt and devastatingly feminine tone she has caught in Golden Daysrather as if John Cheever had changed gender and moved to California. There is Cheever's intense sense of place (Los Angeles instead of exurban Connecticut), of the passage of time and of the enormities that gape just below the surface of life in this tale of a breezy middle-aged woman coming to terms with life, men and, ultimately, nuclear war. Some of the material sounds familiar: marriage in the early 1960s to dreadfully wrong men, the depth and power of female friendship over the years, the California self-realization movement (for once, not satirized but quirkily affirmed) and, finally, the darkening into the 1980s and the coping with unimaginable nuclear horrors. But it has all been felt and thought afresh, and with startling sudden insights on nearly every page: on the way childhood memories linger, why men make war, how favorite restaurants somehow attain symbolic stature. A chapter that inhabits the mind of a philandering husband is uncanny in its accuracy and sadness. And the closing pages offer a vision of nuclear apotheosis and human survival utterly unlike anything in contemporary literature. Golden Days offers the excitement of discovering what seems like a brand-new talent, but enriched by a sureness of tragicomic touch that could only be the work of an experienced writer striking into bold new territory. 30,000 first printing; $25,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

At 38, Edith Langley starts over in Los Angeles, with two bad marriages behind her, two daughers beside her, and the notion that money is power. She's soon a financial advisor, dressing only in natural fabrics and buying gems and gold for the future. But Edith is a woman in a man's world, as See makes abundantly clear. Older financier Howard "Skip" Chandler, who becomes Edith's friend, housemate, and eventual lover, puts together the money for a bank and makes her its president. Young con man-evangelist Lion Boyce (whom she meets on assignment for her financial column) spouts a powerful brand of positive thinking that changes Edith's life. There are "golden days" among the rich and powerful, until nuclear disaster occurs (also courtesy of men). See has a sharp eye for the California scene, and her smooth, dry style is a pleasure, but the plot is diminished by a lack of focus. Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., Va.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
I first read this book when the cold war was still on, Ronald Reagan was president, and we were all afraid of Nuclear War. At the time, I found it one of the most intense, significant, but also funny and wonderful books I had ever read.
Since then, I have thought about it occassionally, and even once picked it up -- but it seemed sort of dated.
But now, ever since September 11, I can't stop thinking about it. I've read it again, and I have been recommmending it to everyone I know. All of a sudden, it couldn't be more pertinent, more important. Now, more than ever, we need to be reminded of a different kind of vision than the one's we see on CNN or read in the New York Times -- and this is just the book to do it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By DMU on May 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
A fascinating book--in part because you know, from reading the inside book jacket synopsis and the hints in the narrative, that this will be a book about nuclear war. But the war doesn't happen until 5/6 of the way in...and up until that point, it's a book about a lot of things: female friendship, love, hope, fear, California. In our current time of irony and sarcasm, it was both refreshing, and a little difficult at first, to completely stay with the narrator as she begins to believe a self-help guru's spiel about light, positive energy, and how what you believe will come true. In the final portion of the book though, which describes what happened after the nuclear war - all the self help speak becomes incredibly moving, and the novel really deepened for me. The book relies a lot on voice, and sometimes I wished there could be more fully developed scenes, but there's enough specific imagery and beautiful details here and there to keep you grounded. The beginning and middle can be slow-going at times, but beneath the slowness is this incredible build-up of tension as the war nears. Written in 1986, some of the personal anger towards men seems old-fashioned in some regards--but seen in the context of an approaching nuclear war, which the narrator believes (probably true) will be caused by men, her anger becomes convincing and justifiable.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
The first two thirds of the book should be a joy to women who have had real relationships and professional careers, and survived after having lost such. The last third is chilling because of the 'bomb theme'. I suspect negative reviews are generated by people under 30 who simply haven't lived much (yet). Plus it might be hard to appreciate the tone of consumer excess and obsession if you never lived in California or a major metropolitan area.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on October 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
In my top ten list of all time favorite novels. I'm one of those people that very rarely re-reads a book. This is the exception. I've read it at least four times and find something new in it every time. It's just really good writing and takes advantage of the fact that fiction can take you to any fantastic place in the universe. It's a real California book, specifically Los Angeles. Ms. See really has the feel of this town. One of the few writers, like Raymond Chandler, that gets and can capture the extreme oddness of this city. This is her best. Her newest one is close to this though and I'd very highly recommend them both. Clancy OHara
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Secret Artist on March 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is an amazing book. I have read it several times each decade. First as coming-of-age, confused 20-something, and recently as a hip & together 50-year old. The story keeps getting better in that way of true classics. Like a Frank LLoyd Wright house or a Charlie Chaplin movie, it is continually fresh, new & innovative. And yes, it is "out there" - but in such a human, intimate way. The characters are so vibrant, alive and funny, and there is a wonderful sense of place, even in the horrific "after" section.

I also love Dreaming, her autobiography/memoir that is the story behind the story. It has some of the same vivid and immediate qualities as the novel. We get to learn more about all of the characters, and the pain and the joy of a well-lived life.

In Golden Days, Carolyn See has created a guidepost for humanity, and one that I will surely reference in the coming decade.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By T. Briggs on July 6, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Two Stars says I don't like it which is not the same thing as being a crappy book. It's not a crappy book, technically. It's "California Fiction." If by California fiction you mean faux memoir about people so unlikeable regardless of the coast that you're grateful it all gets smited by some unnamed enemy This isn't a book about anything, it's a book about how the female protagonist feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeels about everything and it's basically men are evil, jewels are good and a human's worth is best measured by how much fun one has with no points being subtracted for having absolutely no moral compass and being the kind of human the rest of us would just kind of realize was empty of awareness and more or less useless to the survival of the species and yet there she is lacking breasts and personality surviving up to the very end where she gets one final opportunity to dare you to believe her version of the story. Problem is I don't. She is the writer's id come to life and it's clear she has enough self hate and thinks so little of humanity that she is precisely the last person I would want to experience the end of everything with. It's well written and I'm sure there's a cadre of lesbian feminists who find this mood and these paper thin characters just what Sappho ordered. But not this reader. I guess the "feel" of the 80's was captured. It was just more accurately captured by "Testament" and "The Day After."
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